Open Arms Call Now Contact Us Online Giving

The Authority Of Jesus

Sharing God's Word, Living His Love

Mark 1:21-28

January 28, 2024

I would guess that most of us have attended a sporting event at some point in our lives or we have at least watched a sporting event on television. One of the exciting things about attending a sporting event in person is being a part of the crowd cheering for the home team. In fact, many times the home crowd can get very loud cheering for their team, almost as though they can influence the game. We see this especially at the end of a game when the home team is trying to score the winning touchdown, basket, or goal. The cheering, energy, and enthusiasm of the crowd can provide a tremendous boost to the home team. In some stadiums the crowd can get so loud it almost feels like they are out there playing with the team, like the team has an extra player helping them to score or to try to stop the other team from scoring. Last weekend it was reported that the sound of the home crowd cheering at the Baltimore Ravens football game reached 120 decibels = a jet plane taking off.

Feeling the support of those around us is often the difference between success and failure. Remember as a child how we all wanted our parents, our relatives, or our friends to watch us do different things. “Watch me! Watch me!” were words we would say as we rode our bikes without training wheels or did cartwheels across the living room or tried to hit a baseball with a bat. Even teenagers, who sometimes don’t like to have their parents around, will often glance into an audience at an event hoping to see if mom or dad are there. Knowing that a crowd is with you is exciting and empowering. That cushion of support sometimes makes athletes a little faster, musicians a little more creative, and teachers a little more confident. The home crowd advantage gives invisible, but authentic authority to the home team’s actions.

In our Gospel lesson for today, Jesus and His new disciples have made their way to Capernaum – the hometown of the disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John – and immediately on the Sabbath they entered the synagogue where Jesus began to teach. Now teaching in the synagogue was probably something Jesus was very familiar with as many synagogues did not have a resident ordained minister assigned to them. So when visiting teachers or rabbis were in the area they were usually invited by the synagogue leaders to teach lessons from Scripture and to lead worship. Since Jesus was recognized by people as a teacher or rabbi, He was probably invited to teach in synagogues wherever He traveled. So, in a sense, the synagogue became a home field for Jesus.

Now we don’t know exactly what Jesus said or taught, but what we learn from Scripture is that the people gathered around Jesus in that synagogue were like a home crowd, who were amazed at His teaching. Apparently it was not necessarily what Jesus said, but how He said it, with authority they had never heard before. Whenever the local scribes or visiting rabbis taught, they would quote God’s Word but would give credit to person who wrote it, saying things like, “According to Moses, God said you shall have no other gods” or “God spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying we all like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” or they would make reference to certain interpretations of Scriptures offered by rabbis from the past. But Jesus did not quote anyone. His teaching was new in that He personified what He said. He fulfilled what had been said or predicted about the Savior in the Old Testament.

So the first lesson Jesus teaches us here in this text is that we have to find a way to personify what we believe. We must let God’s Word live in us and through us. We can know the Bible forward and backward, but unless we live it, unless people can see God’s Word living in us and through us, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

For example, we see in this text that an evil spirit knew who Jesus was, but that knowledge certainly did not help him in any way. It only filled him with fear. The presence of Jesus and the “home crowd” of amazed people around Him was enough to antagonize the evil spirit to cry out in fear, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Have you come to destroy us?” Notice that no one brought the possessed man to Jesus to have him healed. The evil spirit, seeing Jesus and the home crowd’s support of Jesus, reveals himself out of fear and then announces Jesus’ true identity before everyone in that synagogue. In verse 24 the evil spirit says, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” Notice, as well, that it’s not the home crowd who reveals Jesus’ identity, but the visitor – the enemy.

Though what the evil spirit said was true, Jesus was not going to accept his words as a testimony for everyone there to hear. After all, Satan was not a proper witness for Jesus, because those who heard him could easily have said, “If Satan is the father of lies, how can we believe what he says.” So that’s why Jesus immediately told that evil spirit to “Be silent and come out of him!” Moved with compassion for this man, Jesus doesn’t simply tell the evil spirit to be quiet, He heals the man by commanding the evil spirit to come out. The “home crowd” of people who saw this were once again amazed. They had never heard such a teaching, with authority, and they had never seen such a teaching that also produced such powerful, compassionate action.

And this is the second lesson we learn from Jesus in this text. Jesus touched people with a higher level of compassion. He did not just say, “I’m sorry.” He demonstrated God’s love by showing compassion and He calls us to do the same. It doesn’t do us any good to talk about the love of God unless that love is a living reality in our lives. Jesus gave help, hope, love, encouragement, and forgiveness to everyone He encountered and He calls us to do the same. We are not to be people who simply talk about God’s Word and His love, we are to demonstrate His Word and His love by reaching out to everyone we meet with a higher level of compassion than the rest of our world.

The third lesson we learn from this text is that Jesus takes people to a higher level of service. We will see next week that when Jesus and His disciples left the synagogue that day they went to Peter’s house, where they found Peter’s mother in-law in bed with a fever. Jesus went to her and immediately healed her. And then, as soon as she was healed, she started to serve them as her way of expressing her gratitude. When our lives are touched by Jesus, He takes us to a new level of service.

Several years ago I remember talking to a couple who had been visiting our church and they asked me, “What does your church have to offer us?” I responded by saying, “First, I would like to know what you have to offer to our church.” I was not suggesting in any way that our church was selective in who we accept as members, but the couple had been telling me in our discussions that they weren’t sure if they would join, they just hadn’t gotten that feeling yet from God. I told them that feeling would probably only come as a result of being committed to Jesus and serving Him in His church. In other words, I was trying to explain that our focus should not simply be on how the church can meet my needs, but what things or what goals does my church need me to meet. How can I be a part of or help the home crowd at Holy Cross in following Jesus and supporting others? This couple, who has since moved away, out of the state, did join the church and when they got involved in the mission and ministry of the church in just simple ways they told me, “Pastor, we’ve got that good feeling now.” Not so much because they became members, but because they changed their thoughts from “What can I get out of the church” to “What can I put into it?” Their lives had been lifted to a new level of compassion and service, ready to serve if called upon, but also willing to stand on the sidelines to offer support and encouragement to others.

Can people see the love and compassion of Jesus alive in you? Are they amazed at it? We have a great home crowd here at Holy Cross, but imagine how much stronger we could be and how lives could be changed if we reach more people, who are not part of a church, with invitations to join us.

I pray that God’s Word and His love will always be clearly visible in us for everyone to see.

Mobile App
Coming Soon!
google-play.png app-store.png
Gravity Forms Pagination Must be Steps