Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pentecost 16 - Proper 19

Proper 19
13 September 2015
Mark 9:14-29
Even the demons believe and shudder

Lord Jesus Christ, without whose blessing we are not able to please You, mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and govern our hearts.

Lord Jesus Christ, our support and defense in every need, continue to preserve Your Church in safety, govern her by Your goodness, and bless her with Your peace; thank You for Your compassion, which brings You to our world of pain and dismay. Give us faith to overcome our doubts, and help us believe that all things are possible with You.

Jesus descends from the transfiguration. And meets a defiant demon. An anxious father. An astonished crowd. And despairing disciples. Despair threatens to overwhelm our faith too. By pointing out how we fail to change or improve. Suggesting that God neither cares for us nor has power to help. However, Jesus does not linger in the glory of the transfiguration.  Graciously He descends to a world of despair and doubt. So that He might deliver you.

It always seems to happen. Especially after a hallowed moment. You spend some time away from it all. From the noise and the commotion. From the chaos and confusion.  You find yourself refreshed and renewed. Then Bam! It’s back to reality.  After a superb Sunday. Comes…A manic Monday. Followed by a terrible Tuesday!

Peter, James and John had just returned with Jesus. From the mountain top experience of the Transfiguration. A grand and glorious holy moment. But no sooner had they returned. There was the crowed. Witnessing yet another argument. Between the scribes and the rest of Jesus’ disciples. The Master is gone. The experts continue the debate with the other disciples.
Jesus does all things well. That was the statement made concerning His authority of sickness and disease. In the previous miracle. The man was deaf and mute. Today the boy is terrorized by a demon. Who made the boy mute.  Similar symptoms. This time, an evil spirit. Today we see the Savior demonstrate His mighty power over the father of lies the devil himself.  Yes, the devil himself will acknowledge that God exists. He’s more spiritual then the fellow who has convinced himself, in his own mind, that there is no God. Says, James in his epistle, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) The devil knows that God exists. Jesus by His exorcism of the boy with an evil spirit demonstrated how far He will go to win for you salvation.

1. Man is powerless with respect to dealing with the devil and his hoard.

The teachers of the law and Jesus’ disciples were drawing a crowd.  They were arguing. Again! Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a – spirit that makes him mute. Wherever it seizes him, he's thrown down, foams, grinds his teeth, becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” This desperate man is making a wrong assessment.  

Why didn't You help me Jesus? I brought my son to You Jesus. I through Your disciples could help. But they didn't have the power. They had not the strength.  He came. Expecting Jesus to be there. Or that His power could come through the disciples.

And there’s the problem. You can’t stifle sin! You can’t legislate morality. You can’t defeat the enemy.   Fix my kid!  I tried the youth group. It didn’t work.  Save my marriage! I asked the preacher. He didn’t solve my problem.  My life’s a wreck! The Christian counselor didn’t successfully address our issues. That political candidate promised! To clean up our streets. Fight crime. Curb pornography.  Stop abortion. And legislate traditional marriage! He didn’t solve our nation’s ills!  “I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were not able!”    

Who today can stand against the devil and his wiles? You cannot by your own reason, strength or will.  “But a natural man cannot accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.”(Ephesians 2:1) “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not able to do so.” (Romans 8:7)

By your very nature. You are found to be blind, dead, and enemies of God. Your sinfulness has driven a huge wedge between any significant bond between you and your neighbor. Weighed on the balances of God’s perfect holy Law you have been found wanting.  Yet, this power, to defeat the devil. Comes not from legislation. Or from the power of the human will. But from weakness. Through prayer, and fasting.  

Transition: Man by his very nature is powerless against the devil. All can see the devil’s mark on this world.

2. The devil can make life a living hell on earth.

With this boy. It had been a long painful struggle. “From childhood.” How often had his family heard the indictments? “He’s a challenge. There’s something about him. You know, that boy’s not right!”

Each of us has struggles and crosses – those areas of our lives where the devil will strike us hard. Even in “secular” language, we are comfortable saying, “These are demons we must battle”. There are those places in our lives where the devil knows we are weak. Places, where if we would visit, will not be a safe place but a dangerous circumstance. For we can sense his attempt to destroy us. Out of a sense of survival, we might say “I won’t go there” And if we do. A friend might say, “She’s in a bad place.”

The devil had made every attempt to destroy this boy. The demon tried to burn him in the fire. Yet another time he almost drowned. These were not merely “battle scares”. This boy had been attacked. Continuously.  The devil had leashed this onslaught upon him. These were not isolated incidents. But constant blows this poor lad had received. And this "gnashing of teeth?"  Isn’t this the condition of those cast into outer darkness? Who has the strength and power to slay the enemy? What does this might look like? It looks like death. It’s the image of a man. Suffering on a cross. And its power comes only through prayer.

Do you know your weaknesses? The devil knows them – Better then you know yourself. Our struggle, says St. Paul “is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:16) Know your enemy! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Transition: Know your enemy well. Better yet, run to the safe arms of the Savior for salvation and life.

3. Jesus once again is able to heal, restore and destroy.

He alone is able to destroy. The spirit shook the young man violently. It threw him into convulsions. It shrieked as it came out. The crowd thought he was dead. As he lay lifeless on the ground. How many thought to themselves – fool, idiot! Serves him right! Turning his son over to that itinerate preacher! But Christ raised him up. Just as He will raise you up. On the last great day. Jesus alone is able to heal. The lad is returned to his father whole.

Christ alone is able to restore. How long had this family had to live not knowing? Not knowing. When the spirit would seize him next. Not knowing. How the spirit would try to destroy him. Imagine. Not knowing what the day would bring. Imagine. Not being able to plan for tomorrow. Because you are so overwhelmed by the circumstances of today! Imagine. Not even knowing there would be a tomorrow. And if there were a tomorrow - How would it turn out to be?

The young man is healed at the Savior’s command – Restored. Redeemed. Forgiven!

Read the next verse. Next Sunday's Gospel. Jesus takes His disciples aside to show them the “big picture”. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days, He will rise. (v.32)

That, my friends, is where the victory took place. That is where your redemption was won - for you – at the cross and open tomb. Of course, the disciples couldn’t understand it –and neither can you. Unless you are focused on Christ. The words of Jesus spoken then - are directed to you – “Everything is possible for him who believes!Kyrie Eleison! Lord I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!
Words – 1,500
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability – 80.2%

Reading Level -3.9

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