Monday, February 5, 2018

Sermon January 27-28, 2018

Title: The word of God has authority unto salvation!
Text: Mark 1:21-28

22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Many of you might remember when President Ronald Reagan was shot. It was a time of uncertainty and trial. The question of who was in charge while the president was in the hospital came up at one of the press briefings. You also might remember Alexander Haig who was Reagan's Secretary of State getting up and saying, "I'm in charge!" The problem was - he wasn't. He didn't have the authority.

When I worked in the music business my boss had said he would make arrangements for a delivery for me. The day of the delivery the customer called me asking when the piano would be delivered. I called my boss. He told me he had forgotten to schedule it and apologized. I must have sounded hot and a bit unforgiving when he said, "Russ, don't say anything you're going to regret." I cooled down and thanked him. My boss was speaking from the seat of authority!

Jesus called his disciples Andrew, Peter, James and John to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately followed him and now in Capernaum Jesus immediately begins to teach in the synagogue.

22 And they were astonished [which literally means blown away] at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 

Authority means in the basic sense: The power to enforce laws, to exact obedience, to command, determine and to judge. 

Jesus and his teaching did that, and in such a way as to make him recognizable to his hearers over the scribes and those teachers of the law that the people were familiar with. Jesus, for them, was really different.

Those scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law had the place of authority in Jewish religious life but Jesus brings with him a teaching, and he teaches so that he is seen - as the true authority - and with his teaching the people are amazed or astonished.

Writer, William A. Ward in speaking about teachers and teaching has said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Progress Magazine, December 23, 1992.

Jesus is the good teacher, the superior teacher and the great teacher who by his word, his parables and his sacrificial life, death and resurrection brings those in darkness into his marvelous light and by this light - convicts and releases … condemns and forgives.

The gospel of Christ makes disciples throughout the world because Jesus’ words have authority!

23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

The words of the unclean spirit also recognize the authority of Jesus and speak through the man possessed. The demon’s words also speak the truth that the light of life – the Holy One of God - will destroy all darkness.

“It was the evil spirit that cried out at the sight of Jesus, affirming that he and Jesus of Nazareth had nothing in common, that he and all the demons belonged to a company which are and always will [be in opposition] with the Son of God. His cry is a cry of fear, lest Christ should see [fit] to condemn them, to destroy them by chaining them forever in hell.” 

Popular commentary of the Bible Paul Kretzmann NT Vol.1 p.168

The demon knows who Jesus is. But do we? Do we, through our own sinfulness and uncleanness, see this Holy One of God – this God in the flesh, as God, holy and set apart? Do we listen to his word? Or, do we listen to the world?

We all fall victim to our own sinful desires and the temptation that the world, the devil and our flesh lead us. We hear the word of God on Sunday, but just as easily hear the devils call and tempting. At times we give in, whether it’s a little white lie, sinful lust, or blatant disobedience. 

To be Holy is in opposition to sin and though you and I try we always fall short.

It is true with you and with me. It is true in church or out of church. 

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said:

. . . when Satan cannot catch us with a big sin, he will try a little one. It does not matter to him as long as he catches his fish, what bait he uses. Beware of the beginning of evil, for many, who [looked] to go right, have turned aside and perished amongst the dark mountains in the wide field of sin.

C.H. Spurgeon.

So how can you be protected? Be in the word. Hear the word proclaimed in service. Read the word in devotions, and study the word as taught rightly in Bible Study. 

Our Thursday mid-week study, is studying Elijah in 1 Kings, our Sunday study is using one of the readings for the weekly Lectionary and our men’s breakfast Bible study is finishing the Luther DVD study series. 

When I visited Dick Rutz in rehab a few weeks ago he made a point of telling me how much he enjoyed the videos and what he learned. I guess at 95 you’re still not too old to learn something new!
Don’t ignore it. Open the Bible, study the word, and talk to those who are in the word. There are different ways that Christian churches understand God’s word and teach it and you need to know what you believe, why you believe it and what the difference means.

Is Baptism God’s work or mans? Our Lutheran understanding teaches that it is God’s work.
In baptism we die to the sinful uncleanness that we are born into and are raised with Christ to newness of life - washed and marked by Christ as his redeemed. And just as Jesus, the word of God made flesh, cast out that demon saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.

So too the word of God, connected with the water, in the Name of the Father and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit also conquers sin, death and the power of the devil and marks you and me as God’s child.

It is this Jesus – the word of God made flesh – who is teaching in the synagogue and who has and teaches with authority.

It is this Jesus - who by his word - cast out the unclean spirit and freed the possessed man from the power of the devil.

It is this Jesus – who is the holy one of God – who came in the flesh to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin - in your place.

It is this Jesus who they, saw and heard, and were blown away with his teaching in amazement … and then went and spread his fame and his name everywhere.

It is this Jesus that during the season of Epiphany we recognize as the savior of the world who came down from heaven to set you and me and all captives of sin free. 

It is this Jesus, who is the living word of God, that by the Holy Spirit and his work brings to faith all born dead to sin and are unclean and by his word, connected with the water in Holy Baptism raises those – you and me – from death to life in him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

For Galileo, who summoned the learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the power of belief was so strong, that they denied their eyesight and did not believe the truth.
God, by his Spirit, will bring you and all to the light of his truth and will keep you in this truth by his word and sacraments unto life eternal.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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