Sermon Text: Mark 1:21-28
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 1, 2015
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 first chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Preaching with Authority
Mark’s gospel account is packed tight with Jesus. Every verse is full to the brim and spilling over into the heart and it’s all about Jesus. Even when it’s about John the Baptist it’s all about Jesus. Mark starts his gospel account in the wilderness with John, but John is there to introduce and baptize Jesus. Then Jesus is driven out by the Spirit. “Out there” Jesus is tempted by the Devil. “Out there” He resists temptation and the devil is forced to flee. Having conquered the devil in the desert Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee. But Jesus’ ministry begins in an unlikely manner. He’s not come with might and miracles. He’s not come wearing polished sandals and radiant clothes. There’s nothing about Him that would attract us to Him. “We esteemed Him not.” Jesus has come to preach and to teach. So Jesus begins His ministry on the north shores of the Galilean Sea preaching and teaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. And His preaching and teaching works. He calls His disciples; Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They are the first to follow, the first of many. Through His preaching and teaching Jesus calls to the nations, even to you. Hearing His Word this morning, this Word is for you. He’s come to you, not in might and miracles, not wearing polished sandals and radiant clothes, but in the power and authority of His Word.
And so Jesus makes His way to the synagogue. There He preaches and teaches the good news of the Kingdom of God. But His preaching and teaching is unlike the scribes. And the people notice. Jesus preaches and teaches . . . with authority. His Words have power, the power of God, the power and authority God displayed when He called light out of darkness, when He separated the sea from the dry lands, when He hung the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens, and formed and fashioned creeping things both big and small, creating even Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. All of these happened because God said so, because God’s Word does what it says. God’s Word is full of power and authority. Jesus’ preaching and teaching is full of power and authority because Jesus is God’s Son made flesh.
Appearing before Jesus Unclean
The crowded synagogue is astonished. Who is this? They marvel and they wonder and they hang on every word Jesus speaks. All but one that is. For there appeared before Jesus a man with an unclean spirit. He is unclean because he is possessed by a demon. But one need not be possessed to be unclean. This man is just another picture of us who have come before our Lord this morning. Jesus is here with His word for us and we appear before Him sinful and unclean. We may not have a demon, but what has come out of our hearts has sullied both body and soul. “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mar 7:20-23) ESV) All these come from the depths of our heart. They are not merely mistakes or bad choices – as though such things had no consequences. Everything you say, do, and think has consequences both temporal and eternal. That which misses the mark falls short of the glory of God. It hurts and defiles others, and it hurts and defiles you. Sin makes you unclean and sin comes from inside of you.
We are always tempted to be like this man with an unclean spirit. In other words, we’re always tempted to speak when we should be silent. We’re always tempted to accuse others in order to justify ourselves. We’re always tempted to explain away our uncleanness making use of our own words as though our words have the power and authority to excuse us and our actions before God and our neighbor. There is no excuse for sin. There are no words you can speak, no works you can do, no way you can justify yourself, save yourself, or cleanse yourself, no matter how hard you try, no matter how pious your intentions, no matter how ardent your love. The sin inside of you that comes out of you cannot be remedied by what’s inside of you but must come from outside of you and it must minister to the heart, the very depths of your person.
Be Silent and Come Out
This is why Jesus refuses to let the unclean spirit speak. “Be silent!” He says and the spirit is silent. There is nothing it can say. Its words have no authority but now Jesus puts the spirit under his authority and not only the unclean spirit, but also the man whom it possesses. For everything Jesus says and does, everything He works in our text is for the saving of those hearing and the justification of the man with an unclean spirit. Jesus is there to set the captives free. Jesus is there is to preach and teach the good news of the kingdom of God and the good news of the kingdom of God is that our God reigns!
He reigns over all that is unclean,
over all that proceeds from the heart of men, women and children,
over everything that misses the mark and falls short of the glory of God.
He reigns over sin because He’s taken away sin, taken it to the cross and suffered its consequences in your place.
He reigns over death because the wages of sin is death and the death He died He died once for all, and “all” includes you and me and the whole world.
He reigns over hell because risen from the dead death no longer has dominion over Him. And if no longer over Jesus then no longer over any who believe on His Name.
And His dominion is exercised by His Word. Jesus preaches and teaches as one with authority, the authority of God Himself, the authority that does what He says and works what He wills. Thus the unclean spirit is silent because the unclean spirit cannot refuse Jesus.
Once made silent, now he must listen and now he must obey. “Come out of him,” Jesus says. Again the Word does what He says and works what He wills. From outside of the man comes the voice of the living God through the Word and with power and with authority. The Word comes from outside in order to get inside to set the captives free that free from the filth of sin and death the liberated may live a new life unto God.
Cleansing with a Word
And so we appear before our Lord as one who is sinful and unclean, one in need of a gracious word that does what it says and works what He wills. We gather this morning longing to hear a Word, but not just any word, not the words or men or poets, not the words of earthly liberators or political giants, but the Word of a carpenter from Nazareth, the word of a Preacher from Capernaum, the Word of a Savior from His Cross. For all the words of Jesus are given for our good, for our life, for our salvation. If these were the words of men they would accomplish nothing. For what can a man give in exchange for his soul. With man salvation is impossible. But the one mediator God has given us is the man Jesus Christ. He preaches and teaches with authority, the authority of God because He is God in the flesh. And the Word He offers you is the same Word spoken from the cross. It is the word of absolution, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is the Word of mercy. For only the Word of Mercy and forgiveness from our resurrected Lord can wash away the filth of your sin. Such words come from heaven itself through the voice of a preacher who has been called and ordained to preach and teach for this very purpose – to give you the forgiveness of your sins, the resurrection of your bodies, and the life everlasting. This word does what it says and works what He wills. This Word is His Word for you today,tomorrow, and forevermore. It is sure and it is certain because it is Christ’s.
Believe the Preaching of Jesus
But unlike the unclean spirits, you can refuse Christ’s Word. You can hear and not believe it. You can receive it with your hears, speak it with your lips, but yet your heart could still be far from the Lord. You could exert your own authority, your own will, your own works. You could try harder to be a better person. You could work more, love more, be kinder, be nicer, you could be the sort of person you’re supposed to be, at least on the outside. But Jesus hasn’t come to change merely the outside. Jesus’ words are for the inside, they’re for the heart, to quicken the heart, regenerate the heart, give life to the heart which in turn changes the inside and the outside, the person and the life. This comes from His Word, the Word preached, splashed, sung, confessed, distributed and planted home by the conversation and consolation of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Therefore beloved, do not be like the world with their stopped up ears. But listen to your savior as He speaks to you this morning. Think on His Words, let them enter the ear and make their way to the heart and the mind, to the very depths of your soul. The good news of the Kingdom of God is for you. Christ was born. Believe that He was born for you and you will be born again. Christ was baptized, believe that He was baptized for you and receive His Baptism as your own under the water and the word. Christ has conquered sin, death and hell; believe that He conquered them for you and you will conquer them as well. For on the last day the Word of the Lord shall go out and reap a harvest of body and souls calling each by name, calling us from our graves and into eternal life, the life prepared for us from the foundation of the world. The Word of the Lord shall do this for Jesus preaches and teaches with authority, the authority of God, the authority to do what He says and work what He wills for us and our salvation. Therefore let us bend low our hearts before the One who speaks to us this morning. Let us marvel with all the saints and raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving for even the unclean spirits obey Him. To God alone be glory. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!