Sermon — Rev. Tony Sikora — Epiphany 4

Beloved,  Our text for Sunday’s sermon is St. Mark 1:21-28. Blessings, Pr. Sikora

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the 1st chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Finding Jesus in the Synagogue

Hope Lutheran DeWitt MI

Last week Jesus preached His first sermon and called His first disciples.  His Word worked and the hearts of four men abandoned the old to follow Jesus into eternal life.  That’s what disciples do.  They follow Jesus; going wherever He goes, doing what He does, each according to their calling.  Following Jesus this morning we find Him in Capernaum, Peter’s hometown.  It is the Sabbath, the day God established as a day of rest for His people.  Not the “sleeping in” kind of rest, but God’s rest; rest from the labors of this world, rest from the burdens of sin, rest from business of the lives we lead.  Resting on the Sabbath means going to synagogue.  It means worship, divine service, church.

On the Sabbath we find Jesus in Church.  As His disciples we go where He goes and we do what He does each according to our vocation. In the Synagogue Jesus preaches.  That is His calling – to preach “The time is fulfilled.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.”  His disciples on the other hand – listen.  That is their calling, your calling – this morning – to listen and allow the Word of Jesus to work His work on your hearts.  Such a Word grants the cleans hearts we pray for, renews a right spirit within us, draws us nearer to His presence and pours out the Holy Spirit like anointing oil over the head and down the beard of Aaron.  The joy of salvation fills believing souls and we are upheld with God’s free Spirit. Thus amazement and wonder overcome us for we hear what no eye can see – the glory of our God in the flesh – in our midst – in our lives – all in a Word from Jesus.

Enthusiastic Show

Now, the world is quite bored with the Word of Jesus.  Words are boring to people – blah, blah, blah.  Words aren’t exciting.  People like to be excited; They want to get excited at sports games.  They want to be energized at music concerts, elated even at church – for too many the Word of Jesus is simply not enough.  We have to make it exciting, emotionally stirring, spiritually exhilarating.   In other words we have to add to the service so that people are more enthusiastic about Jesus.

It’s not surprising that so many these days think Church ought to be a show.  After all, we all like shows, especially shows of power.  But the Word of God isn’t like that.  The Word isn’t about excitement. It isn’t about a show.   That’s not what Jesus does when he enters the synagogue.  There’s no show – there’s no display of holy might – there’s no waving of the hands in the air drawing attention to other things.  He preaches.  That’s it.  That’s what He gives His people.  He gives a Word, a teaching, a doctrine.

You might recall the Old Testament story of Naaman.  Naaman was not a Jew.  He was a gentile unbeliever in the kingdom of Aram. And Naaman had leprosy.  Eventually, hoping to be cured, Naaman makes His way to Elisha in Israel.  Elisha sends a Word to Naaman.  “Go and wash 7 times in the Jordan and you will be healed.”  Naaman left that place furious and says to himself, “‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'”  You see, Naaman didn’t want the Word of the Lord, he wanted a show; hands waving, voice crying out, leprosy disappearing like a slight of hand trick.

Now, is that how you want God to deal with you beloved? Do you want a show?  Do you want something more exciting, exhilarating, emotionally stirring than the Words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”?  Is that how you want God to deal with your sins . . . with a slight of hand?  Do you want to add something to what God says?  Do you want to spiff it up, make it more appealing to your heart, so that you can be swept away in a tide of spiritual ecstasy. Forget it!  It won’t happen, at least not from the true God. God does not work that way. The Word does not work that way. Jesus preaches.  That’s how he deals with sin, death, and in our text, the devil.

Power of the Word

For the devil knows the power of Jesus’ Word.  “Have you come to destroy us?” they howl.  “We know who you are the Holy one of God.”  And what does Jesus give them.   The same: a Word.  “Be silent and come out of Him.”  One little Word from Jesus topples the might of demons.  No show, no waving of hands, nothing from Jesus but a Word.  And His Word works what it says.  The word that amazed His congregation, stills the tongue to demons.  Such is the power of the Word of Jesus.  It may not be exciting, exhilarating, or emotionally stirring, but it works and it works wonders.  Demons are dumbfounded.  Wind and waves cease. Lepers are cleansed.  Paralytics walk.  Tax Collectors follow.  Prostitutes surrender.  A disciple walks on water.  The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap like the gazelle, the captives are set free and the poor have the good news preached to them.  This is the power of the Word of Jesus.  This is how Jesus deals with you and this is the only way, he’ll deal with you.  No show, no might, no power other than that wrought with the Word of God.  For this is the heart of God.  This is how He works.  This is how He saves.   And he will not be pressed into putting on a show, not for you, not for anyone.

The Jews tried, “save Yourself,” they said, “and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross that we may see and believe.”  They wanted a show, but the only show given was a bloody show, a show of love.  He would not come down in might and glory.  He would not surrender to such temptation.  They had not the mind of God but the mind of men.

No! beloved, Jesus would not put on show but He did put on our sins and bear them on that cross.  There the Word made flesh is hung before creation, hung before your very eyes that you may see the heart of God for you.  There’s no show of strength, nothing exciting going on here!  Just a Word – a Word pleading for your forgiveness.  It’s just a Word – a bloody Word – a Word that dies and rises again on the Third day.

Amazing Doctrine

Repent and believe in the Gospel!  That’s the Word of Jesus for you and for all. Demons cannot stand it and writhe because of it.   They know Jesus is their end.  His death and resurrection is their destruction.  “Have you come to destroy us?” they ask.  The answer is yes, but not as they expected.  They are silenced and they are cast out.  Oh, they writhe and they convulse.  They put on their show.  But all to no avail.  The man is set free. The Word of Jesus has set Him free.

This Word does the same for you and me and all who believe it.  “Repent and believe in the Gospel” means to repent and believe in the Word of Jesus.  It means to fix our hearts on His Voice and to search for no other, to expect no other, to love no other.  His Word is life and His Word brings true joy and happiness.  When we Christians hold dear the Word of Jesus the crosses we bear are not so heavy.  The heart is glad and confident of God’s divine favor.  The soul hymns its praises to God even in the midst of suffering.  The spirit soars as despair is cast out.  Anxiety gives way to peace as sins are forgiven.  Hope floods the heart as the Word is poured into our ears.

Such was Naaman’s gift.  Convinced by a servant Naaman went down to the Jordan and washed 7 times according to the Word of the man of God and His flesh was restored like the flesh of a child and he was clean.  “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.”  The Aramean believed!  What about you?

Finding Jesus in the Word

Beloved in the Lord, last week Jesus preached His first sermon and called His first disciples.  That Word still echoes today as sinners are heralded from the depths of destruction to the fount of life.  Disciples of Jesus follow Jesus where ever He goes, they do whatever He does, each according to their calling.  On the Sabbath His disciples gather where He preaches, where His Word is delivered and His cross is held high.  Look for Him beloved!  Cast your ears to the water and hear His Voice in Baptism.  Lean closer to the pulpit and learn His heart for you.  Draw near the body of the Lord, eat and drink, taste and see that the Lord is Good.  He will not give you a show, nor will I, but what He gives works what it says.  He gives you a Word, a bloody Word, a Christ centered and cross focused Word.  It’s a Word that forgives sins and brings ushers souls into eternal life.  Its foolishness to those who are perishing, its boring to those who don’t believe, but to us being saved it is the power of God unto salvation.  It is . . . amazing!  AMEN!

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!

 

 

Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

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