Saturday, January 30, 2016

Epiphany 4

For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” (Luke 4:36)

Jesus was sent to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). His preaching is an epiphany or manifestation of God, because His Word reveals the authority of His Cross and Resurrection, by which He has atoned for the sins of the world. By the preaching of His Gospel in every place, He silences the unclean spirits and casts out demons, heals the diseases of body and soul, and restores life and health to His creation (Luke 4:40–41). For the sake of His divine love, He is “patient and kind” toward us; He “bears all things,” “endures all things,” and “delivers up His body” to save us (1 Cor. 13:3–4, 7).

Jesus goes to Capernaum, the center of His Galilean ministry. The crowds are astounded at the authority of His teaching. They are amazed at the power demonstrated in his healing. Who is this Jesus? To what extent is he our authority, our standard for truth? What do we known of his power?

Jesus enters into His Father’s house and He begins teaching the people the Good News about the kingdom. But unlike the Pharisees and teachers of the law who quote the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, Jesus speaks by His own authority. Rather than speaking the teachings of others, Jesus speaks the Word Himself. With this speaking, He fulfills His role as the great High Priest.

Satan being cast down upon the earth in disobedience, hatred and spite has one of his demons take possession of a man in the synagogue. He recognizes Jesus as the One who has supreme authority and power. He cries cried out with a loud voice, “I know who you are— the Holy One of God.”

The evil spirit’s possession of the man is a direct assault upon the Father and His work of creation. Jesus as the great High Priest came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus had the right, to set free the man held captive. Satan still considers it an infringement of his rights when God frees a “sinner” from bondage and destroys his influence. He still remains spiteful, malignant like a cancer - poisonous like a serpent - spreading his anger. He’s vicious. Striking out at all who come too close.

This demon was no different than his master. Still spiteful, though obliged to obey the divine will of God, the demon submits because he had to, not because he chose to. He exerted his last power, inflicting all the pain he could, and then bowed to the Son of God and came out.

Jesus came down from heaven in love and obedience to His Father. Jesus came to earth for the very purpose of paying the bills owed to the Father for your iniquity disobedience and sin. Jesus took the bills of your sin and paid the cost with His very own body and blood so that you could be free from the guilt over your iniquity and to relieve you from the burden of your sin. 

When you humbly turn to Jesus in faith, believing that His death on the cross accomplished your salvation, you are enabled to confess your sins and ask that your debts be forgiven. He freely gives you pardon and peace. His gifts He offers to all who love Him. Jesus enables you to stand upright before Him as He removes your sin so that you are free to serve Him. In doing this, Jesus makes you Holy. 

He made you holy in your Baptism. This is what our students learned in Morning Prayer this past week. What does Baptism with water signify? “It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

You are now free to live the life the Father intended for you to live. Your heavenly Father does not mean for you to live for yourself. You now live giving glory to God, as you serve your neighbor in the time given to you.

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