Saturday, January 30, 2021

Epiphany 4


Mark 1:21-28
Authority, So What?

Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord

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.  Forty-three years ago this month; 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 your response to His authority? That is the question that we must consider this morning. How should we properly respond to Jesus’ authority?

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

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 the Father 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 the Father can say.  He works miracles and acts of kindness that only He can perform. This truly is the LORD made 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. Only 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 your reaction to the miracles that He works? His words and works call us to action.

2.     We must also respect Jesus’ authority – “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!" Vv.23-24

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” James reminds us.  (James 2:19) The devil himself recognizes Jesus’ power and authority. 

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.

 As the old adage reminds us, one’s enemies make for our best critics.  The demon gives testimony that this Jesus is the Christ; the Son of God.  We too, are called to acknowledge Him.  Even Jesus’ fiercest enemies do this. The difference? Yours is a confession of faith.  You respect Him. 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 finally respond to Jesus’ authority –“And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" – V.25 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. And 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. But when we take it all in we are filled with wonder and awe.

Likewise, when recognizing Jesus we respond with shouts of thanksgiving. As the catechism teaches; “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. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Words- 930
Passive Sentences-9%
Readability – 75.7%
Reading Level- 5.1

The Crucifixion  from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures copyright © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

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