Introduction: In our day we have almost a revulsion against people in authority – preachers, teachers, state officials, parents. The list seems endless. We seem to resent an authority figure because it seems to say we are dominated, directed and denied our independence. We desire to be free to make our own decisions and to do our own thing. In our Gospel Jesus appears as an authority figure and yet the people seem to like it. They are favorably impressed and marvel at His authority. Can we feel the same about Jesus today? Let’s look at Him and the authority He demonstrates.
Consider Jesus as an authority figure today.
1. The source of His authority – who he is – Vs. 24 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!
A. When confronted by the One who has the words of life the demons must be placed into submission. They know who He is – Most people knew Him as Jesus the carpenter; the man from Nazareth, the son of Mary and her husband Joseph. Now He will go by a different name. He is the Holy One of God – the Savior of the world.
B. As Savior, Jesus will do the will of His Father which is to destroy the works of the devil. Already the demon must place himself into submission. Already he knows he is finished. Already he knows the Son of man has come to destroy the works of the devil. “Have you come to destroy us?” The demon asks.
The demon is no match for the Savior. Every time he confronts the Savior - the devil and his host - the demons find themselves defeated!
1. He was defeated in heaven. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:7-9
2. He was defeated at the cruel cross of Calvary when the Son of God cried “It is finished!”
3. He will also be defeated in your life – personally - when he tempts and attempts to torment you. Already the victory is yours if you would look to Him who was lifted up on the bloody cross and who broke free from the sealed tomb. As you avail yourselves with those means which He supplies you - His cross; His Supper; His absolution; the demon must leave and flee!
2. The authority of His knowledge is found in His teaching – Vs. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law
A. The authority of Jesus was expressed in both word and deed. He impressed the congregation with His authority and astonished them with His ability (and authority) to cast out a demon. It was an authority without being an authoritarian;which people do not admire.
B. Jesus’ authority was different from other religious leaders. Their authority was second-hand as derived from past “authorities.” Jesus had the authority of His identity as “the holy One of God.” His authority was based on who He is.
3. His authority over evil – Vv. 25-26 Be quiet! said Jesus sternly. Come out of him! The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
A. The One with authority has spoken - the demons are no match - they are defeated by Him who cares for your soul. In this Epiphany season we see Him who commands our respect for He speaks and acts as one who has authority – even the demons submit, shake and shudder!
B.This man was in “church” worshipping and listening to a sermon proclaimed by the best preacher ever to come on earth. An “unclean” person is one possessed by an evil spirit.
Is it strange to you that he would be in the synagogue? This should remind us that evil is present in people who are faithful, religious persons.
We are at the same time both sinners and saints. We possess both an Old Adam as well as a New Man. Christians are not perfect people. Thus we must remember that the church is not a museum of saints but a hospital of diseased people in need of a cure.
C.Having come to the Great Physician this man receives his treatment. When we come to Him needing treatment - where do we find the therapy and medicine that we need? We find it in what He alone can prescribe – He gives us His Word and Sacrament – He gives us Himself –for in the care of Jesus our Great Physician – the cure for our souls is found.
Conclusion: It is one thing to have authority and it is another to have that authority accepted. True lack of respect for authority is a problem of our day. But we can not simply demand respect and think it will come our way. It needs to be earned. 30 years ago in 1979 millions in Iran demonstrated against the Shah to the point that he had to leave the country. Though he had authority as a king, his authority was no longer accepted, respected, and obeyed by the majority of the people. The same can happen to any person of authority. Jesus has earned the authority due Him. May we serve honor and obey Him in word and in deed.