Saturday, January 28, 2012

Epiphany 4

Mark 1:21-28
"Authority, so what?"

It is one thing to have authority and it is another to have that authority accepted. Lack of respect for authority is a problem of our day. Thirty-five years ago, millions in Iran demonstrated against the Shah to the point that he had to leave the country. The people refused to bow to his authority. Though he had authority as a king, his authority was no longer accepted, respected, and obeyed by a majority of the people. The same can happen to any person of authority, including Jesus Christ. What is our response to His authority? We must consider that question this morning. How should we properly respond to Jesus’ authority?

1. First, we must recognize His authority – Listen to verse 22 of our text for today. “And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as {one} having authority, and not as the scribes.”

From the testimony of the Scriptures, we see quite clearly that when Jesus speaks and when He acts people are bound to take notice. Jesus proved that He had that authority that comes from God by what He said. He spoke for God. But He backs up His words with His works. Jesus speaks and Jesus acts! He says only those things that God can say. He works miracles and acts of kindness that only God can perform. This truly is God in the flesh. No one can work like Him. No one can speak like Him. By His words and by His works we are called to recognize that there is none other. On He can be the Son of God.

Transition: But there is more than merely recognizing Jesus’ works and words for what they are. Few today would dispute what He has done. Few, if any, would put a disclaimer on His words and actions. But how do we respond to what He has said? What is our reaction to the miracles that He works? His words and works call us to action.

2. We must also respect Jesus’ authority – Listen to verses 23 and 24 of our text for today. “And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are-- the Holy One of God!"

“You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) The devil himself recognizes Jesus’ power and authority. This is clearly demonstrated in our lesson for today. The devil was calling Jesus out. Respecting His authority, the devil knew that Jesus has the authority to destroy him. “What are going to do to us?” The demon asks. “Have You come to destroy us?” The demon knew his fate. He will be doomed forever by the one who has the authority to destroy him. That’s why he asks the question! It’s not a matter that he would be destroyed. That fact is perfectly obvious. The question is when, when will this demon be destroyed. Will you destroy me now or later, for You are the Holy One of God.

Our enemies make for our best critics. The demon gives testimony that this Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God. We too, are called to acknowledge what even Jesus’ fiercest enemies are called to do. We are to respect Him for He is our Lord Almighty. The one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He, Jesus, is Lord of all.

3. We must finally respond to Jesus’ authority – Listen to verses 25 and following of our text for today. “And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."

The inevitable happens. After nine anxious months a baby is finally delivered. We know what is coming. Yet, when that blessed event happens, we are filled with awe. We take in a spectacular sunrise or sunset. We recognize that this is something that happens every day.

The sun is supposed to rise and the beginning of the day. We expect it to set as dusk turns to night. However, when we take it all in we are filled with wonder and awe. Likewise when recognizing Jesus we respond with shouts of thanksgiving. As we are reminded in the catechism. “For it is my duty to thank and to praise, to serve and obey Him!” Yes, this is most certainly true!

The confrontation of Jesus with the demon only heightened the reality that this Jesus is King and Lord of all. May we resound in kind by offering Him our lives for service in His kingdom. Willingly following Him and praising Him for all that He has done.

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