Artist: Benjamin West
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 90.5 x 69.8 cm
Location: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Mark 1:21-28 - They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Jesus’ teaching is unlike that of the scribes because it is tied to His person and to His interpretation of Scripture. As soon as Christ began to preach, he began to work miracles for the confirmation of his doctrine, announcing the coming of the kingdom and the defeat of Satan. The victory Jesus Christ obtained over the unclean spirit astonished those that saw it; they were all amazed. It was evident, beyond contradiction, that the man was possessed; it was evident that he was forced out by the authority of Christ. The victory which Jesus Christ obtained over the unclean spirit was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Benjamin West, (October 1738 – March 1820) was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence. He was the second president of the Royal Academy in London, serving from 1792 to 1805 and 1806 to 1820. West is known for his large scale history paintings, which use expressive figures, colours and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented. West called this "epic representation". In 1806 he produced The Death of Nelson, to commemorate Horatio Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar.