Saturday, February 03, 2024

Mark.1.21-28; Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 28, 2024;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he 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. 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and 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. (Mark 1:21-28, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Shut up!” Yea, that’s what I said, “Shut up!”

Well I’m only quoting Jesus in this passage. He tells this daemon to shut up! And he’s not using it the way kids use it these days, saying something like “That’s unbelievable.” He’s actually telling this guy to shut his face and stop talking. It seems rather rude. It doesn’t seem much like the Jesus we’ve been raised on; Jesus meek and mild; Jesus only loving never harsh; Jesus the ultimate metro-sexual.

It’s a bit like when Peter was rebuked by Jesus. You remember the account. Jesus asks the disciples “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples give a long list of prophets. Elijah, Moses, etc. Jesus then turns the question to the disciples. “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers for the whole group. And amazingly he answers the question correctly. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” “Blessed are you Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal this to you.” “Great job, Peter. You’ve got it right. What you are saying is a good thing. God has giving you a good word to say. This is good stuff! This is the faith that the church is gonna be built on.” Jesus then goes on to tell Peter what it means to be “The Christ.”

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21, ESV)

Now Peter reacts in a different way. He “rebukes” Jesus. “No way Lord. That’s not going to happen to you!”

“Shut up!” Jesus says. “Get behind me Satan. You don’t have in mind the things of God but the things of man. Shut up!”

These are powerful words from Jesus lips. He won’t let Satan speak. Satan whispers in Peter’s ear that Jesus doesn’t have to die. Things are going too well for that. And Peter is a good Satan listener and speaker. He speaks up for Satan. “Not this time Lord! No way Jesus! Not gonna happen. We’ve got too much at stake.”

“Shut up! Satan.”

Well, with that all in mind we need to look again at what our text for today says.

[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. (Mark 1:21b-22, ESV)

It is very important to know that Jesus is speaking “as one who had authority.” He’s in the church, he’s speaking with authority. What does that mean? Well, it means that Jesus taught without footnotes. He said things like “You have heard it said… but I say.” That’s not like the teachers of the day. The scribes taught by repeating the writings of other scribes. Their teaching was never original. They backed up what they said with lots of support. Jesus doesn’t. He speaks his own Word. Here’s an example:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:27-29, ESV)

The scribes would have qualified the sin. “It’s not adultery if you don’t look too long.” “Porn isn’t sinful, as long as it makes my sex life with my wife better.” God really wants’ me to be happy doesn’t he?” Jesus says “Shut up!” Adultery isn’t just activity. Adultery is in the heart. It is wanting what is not yours to have. It’s the breaking of promise you have made or promises you will make to your spouse. It’s replacing God’s Word with human words, Satan’s word.

Jesus speaks from God, because he is God. Jesus word is God’s Word. It has God’s full backing and authority. You can tell just from the way Jesus speaks it.

Ya, but… Isn’t this text just a bit different from all that? After all the daemon is speaking the truth, isn’t he? “I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” Shouldn’t Jesus agree with him? Doesn’t Jesus agree? Isn’t a good thing to confess who Jesus is? Jesus shouldn’t have been so harsh, instead of “Shut up!” maybe something a bit less offensive.

Well, it is like the writer of Ecclesiastes says, there is…

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (Ecclesiastes 3:7b, ESV)

It is interesting... Just because someone says "Jesus" doesn't mean they are telling the truth. Peter confessed "you are the Christ" he confesses from faith. The demon calls Jesus, "the holy one of God" from fear.

There are lots of preachers out there who claim to speak for Jesus. They say things like "Jesus wants you to be wealthy." What he really means is "Jesus wants ME to be wealthy." He speaks pretending to confess the true Jesus. Sometimes he even says true things about Jesus. But he speaks it for his own purposes.

The demon doesn't confess Jesus from faith but for his own purposes wanting to manipulate Jesus. He thought that if he used Jesus’ real name, he’d have power over him. He speaks Jesus full name and title; he wants to control Jesus and prevent Jesus from "destroying" him.

It’s a bit like the teenager who uses God’s name to validate the truthfulness of something. "I swear to God, Bob is gay!" Sometimes it is even used when they are lying.

And sometimes we use God's name to manipulate him. Instead of “Thy will be done.” Its “MY will be done.” This is the thinking of a lot of mainline Christianity “Ten things to say to make God do what you want him to do.” “If you use God’s name, He has to do what you want him to do.” It’s just like the demon. "Jesus won't dare rebuke/destroy me if I speak the truth about who he is and say his name." God cannot be manipulated.

It is Jesus who speaks with authority. He speaks the Word. In fact, He is the Word. St. John says:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, ESV)

What Jesus says is always true. He does what he says he does. He has authority.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)

And yet the demon speaks the truth. The words, “have you come to destroy us?” could also be translated as a statement. “You have come to destroy us!” It is the truth. Jesus speaks the same himself. He becomes a human to die on the cross and bring you and I forgiveness of sins. He doesn’t want us to listen to demons. He wants us to listen to him.

Jesus tells us we are forgiven. He says "I forgive you in the name of the Father..." These are Jesus’ words not the pastors. The words are spoken for him so that you hear them with your own ears. He uses a pastor’s voice. Through a person God delivers to you the forgiveness Jesus won on the cross. Even the poorest preacher on his worst day accurately reading and proclaiming Jesus death and resurrection has infinitely more power to change people lives than the most showy evangelist proclaiming work harder to change your life!

Jesus has given us pastors to speak for him, but he also speaks privately Christian to Christian. "I forgive you for hurting me." When we speak those words to someone who has hurt us, they are true... even when we don't feel forgiving. Our thoughts might be on payback, or anger, but forgiveness of Jesus isn’t based on our hearts but on Jesus’ Word and promise. If you find yourself saying something like “I’d like to forgive you, but I can’t right now.” Or “Someday I’ll be able to forgive you.” Jesus could say to you, “Shut up! The forgiveness I won for you on the cross is also for the one who has sinned against you. Speak my words of forgiveness to them. Then turn to me with your un-forgiving heart and receive forgiveness for that sin, too.” Real forgiveness comes from the cross, without any strings or demands or false words. This is what real forgiveness is.

I like proverbs:

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10, ESV)

The man isn't righteous because he earns it, he is righteous because God declares him to be righteous. The WORD says it is true. Offering forgiveness is a proper use of Jesus name. It is Jesus’ name spoken in faith, not fear. In Jesus name we are safe, forgiven, and able to forgive.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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