Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Certification


(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)


Certification can be defined as the formal attestation or confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education, assessment, or audit. Certification can also be seen as an official document attesting to a status or level of achievement.

So, certification can come in the form of attestation or confirmation. In our day to day activities, it seems natural that attestation or confirmation should come from an official institution like a school, a biological relative, friends and colleagues. It is at times strange when an “enemy” or an opponent of yours give good attestation or confirmation about you.

I give this background because of what St. Mark tells us in today’s Gospel. On a Sabbath day in the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus’ ministry received a heartwarming certification. According to St. Mark, the crowd was not only impressed with his authority over unclean spirits but they were overwhelmed by his teaching style, method, and the power in his teachings; for they said: “this is a new teaching and not like the teachings of the scribes.” We should remind ourselves that in Roman Political Governance, though power rested in the hands of Caesar and probably the Senate, Rome recognized the power of the Roman people. A good example can be found in the account on the trial of Jesus. Though Pilate had all the powers to sentence Jesus, the voice of the crowd that day was very influential in his final decision. So in Roman and Palestinian politics of the day, the attestation of the people carried weight. With democracy as a form of governance in most countries today, we should understand the power of the people.

If this is the case, then the people were right and were backed by the law to confirm Jesus’ authority and teaching style. This accolade did not stay only with Jesus but was conferred on all who will teach in his name. Jesus himself said, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will do greater things and you will teach with authority. It was based on that empowerment that St Peter received from attestation from some of the members of the Sanhedrin, as St Luke tells us in Acts 4:13. The inspired writer wrote: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

The extraordinary certification of the day that inspires me spiritually is the “certification” that came from the demons/unclean spirit. St. Mark tells us that the unclean spirit in a man in the synagogue pushed him to say: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” If an unclean spirit can push a man to give this testimony, then we expected much from the High Priest and the other members of the Sanhedrin. Did they fail throughout the ministry of Jesus to certify him as the Messiah/Son of God because they didn’t know, or knew but jealousy influenced their decision. Whatever was their intention, is not important because Jesus is on record to have said: “…I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

This way of certification is the “portion” of every child of God. If you give your life to Christ whole and entire, the enemy sent to destroy you will not only be powerless but will attest to the world that you are a child of God who cannot be touched. I am always touched and empowered when I read Job 1:10. The devil was on a mission to destroy Job but when he failed, he gave this testimony: “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” Remember this is the testimony of the devil himself on Job.

My dear child of God, do not be afraid of the plans and mechanizations of “your presumed” enemies and even of the devil himself because, if you have really given your life to Christ, no one can touch you without the consent of God. Hear the authorization of God on you: “For this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘…for whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye’” (Zechariah 2:8). Now tell me who can touch the “eye of God”; be rest assured, you are safe in Jesus Name.


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