“Lessons About Life” — Mark 1: 21-28

Feb. 1, 2015 Text: Mark 1:21-28

Dear Friends in Christ,

About 25 years ago Dr. Dennis Waitley was a sought-after speaker and productivity consultant. Listen to this quote from one of his talks.
“We want love without commitment. We want benefit packages without production requirement. Pain, sacrifice, and effort are unacceptable. ‘If it feels good right away, I’ll try it. If I can’t be certain I’ll win, then I won’t enter. I want the American dream I saw on TV, in the movies, and the one my parents said I’d get because I’m so special. And I want it now! Tomorrow is too late.’ I call this irresponsible obsession with immediate sensual gratification.”
Boy couldn’t we go on a real tirade echoing and screaming about that quote? How else can you explain that Apple sold almost 75 million I-phones during the Christmas shopping season? Or every child gets a trophy just for participating?
If only people knew the Scripture. If only. This morning is another moment with Jesus.
The beginning of our text. “They went to Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath (Jesus) entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (vs. 21-22)
Who has the authority? Jesus does. He has the final authority and final word. These words are of utmost importance because everybody is once again wondering where everything in the world is headed. The underlying thinking of our day is that man is the final authority; that man will direct his course of action and destiny.
Here in this unknown synagogue in this mostly unknown place called Capernaum. God steps into the scene of human history and vetoes all human authority now matter how powerful or significant, and trumps all human plans and thinking. Listen to these words from Proverbs: “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way.” (Prov. 20:24)
And look at this…”And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘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.’” (v. 23-24
I pray we catch this. This man possessed by an evil spirit didn’t run into the church. He was in the church. Part of the church. And with that the lesson that most of the church’s greatest struggles are not on the outside, but within.
And most pretend that the church is the place where everyone can agree to disagree and get along. Isn’t that the goal? Whatever it takes to make the pew warm and cozy? We get twisted in our thinking.
The greatest twisting there is, is that about our sin and the trouble it causes; especially with God. And that sin is right here, in this Sanctuary. Yours and mine. And Christ is right here, in this Sanctuary – right here where He promised to be in Word and Sacrament to assure us of forgiveness of all our twisted thinking, our vile and destructive sin. This moment with Jesus is simply another wonderful and comforting reminder that He comes to where we are with forgiveness and eternal life.
Well, consider the rest of what happens in our text…”But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” (vs. 25-28)
Isn’t it interesting that they ask, “What is this?” and not “Who is this?” The world is looking for answers. This world is looking for someone who will love and comfort it. But the world can’t see Jesus. It can’t recognize the Who, but it does cry out for the What – as in What the world wants and What the world thinks. How thankful we are that we know the Who.
This moment with Jesus, once again focuses on the great love of God for us. In the history of our troubled world, there have been frequent clashes between powerful forces. During World War II, there was a monumental struggle between the Axis and the Allies. Yet wondering who would win was not really doubted in the objective mind. The Axis simply had too many men and too much material for the underpowered Axis.
Despite the strategic victory the Allies were sure to win, a long war of attrition caused many casualties along the way. If victory couldn’t be achieved, then the Axis warlords wanted to take as many Allied lives as possible.
Our ultimate victory is certain through the person and work of Jesus Christ. And yet, Satan works to take as many with him as possible. He boldly attacks God’s highest creation. But through the wonderful weapon of God’s word, we’re guaranteed not only a strategic victory in heaven, but also tactical victories along the way. Armed with the ultimate weapon of God’s Holy Word and His Sacraments, we are truly “delivered from evil.”
Good lessons from this moment with Jesus.