St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Blessings of Discipleship

Sermon on Mark 1:21-28
Text: They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
     25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly.  “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
    27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this?  A new teaching–and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
     Every job has its share of problems.  But, there are often many benefits or “perks” with each job.  For example, the farmer, although he has certain things that he has to do every day, he can to an extent arrange his schedule, if he would like to do something else that day, as well.  Many jobs have vacations built into their system.  This was virtually unheard of not that many years ago.  This morning we are going to talk about being a disciple of Jesus.  There may be times when Jesus calls upon us to bear a cross for him.  But the blessings far outweigh the hardships.  We look, then, at THE BLESSINGS OF DISCIPLESHIP.  There is 1. Security in our Savior’s Power and 2. Strength From His Word.
     Jesus had just selected the first four men to be his disciples: Peter, Andrew, James and John.  They entered the city of Capernaum and, on the Sabbath Day, they went into the synagogue.  As was often the case, when a visiting teacher was in town, Jesus was asked to speak to those assembled.  All of a sudden, there was a great disturbance.  “Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” (Verses 23&24) This person had been physically possessed by an evil spirit.  We don’t know exactly what form of possession this was.  We read of many types in the Bible from causing that person to physically harm themselves to being able to tell the future.
     Whatever the type of possession, it is his message that catches our attention.  It also caught Jesus’ attention.  We hear him command the evil spirit, “Be quiet!.”  At first, we might wonder why Jesus would tell the spirit to be quiet.  After all, it is true that Jesus is the Holy One of God.  The devil and all his angels knew why Jesus had come to the earth.  They knew who he was.  But, Jesus would not accept the testimony of the evil spirit, or of Satan, for those hearing could have said, ‘These are the words of the father of lies.  How can we believe them?’.  It’s hard to say what the man said when he was possessed.  Jesus, also, did not want to, at this time, proclaim openly that he was the Messiah.  That word had too many political implications at the time.  Jesus would not accept this testimony.
     Rather he said, “Come out of him!”  Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the man.  We read in verse 26, “The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.”  The evil spirit had to obey, for this was the Son of God that addressed him.  That man was set free from his bondage to that demon.
     This was not this first time that Jesus had met Satan during his life on the earth.  Just verses prior to our text Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by Satan.  Satan failed to get Jesus to sin.  This, also, would not be the last time that these two would meet.  Again and again Satan tempted Jesus and every time Jesus prevailed.  The devil unleashed his fiercest temptations at the end of Jesus’ life.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus realized what lay ahead of him.  He prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup be taken from me.”  But, he also added, “Not my will but yours be done.”  Jesus was tempted while on the cross.  We hear the agony in his voice, as he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Yet, all of Satan’s temptations failed.  When Jesus said, “It is finished!,” it marked the end of Satan’s reign.  When Jesus rose triumphantly on the third day, Satan’s power was destroyed.  Satan had been thoroughly defeated.  Every time he and Jesus met, Jesus was the victor.
     Jesus shares that victory with us.  Jesus endured all of the temptations of the devil and the pain of the cross in order to be our substitute.  All of our sins were placed on Jesus, and he was punished for every one of them.  Now Satan can, no longer, accuse us of sin, because Jesus paid for every one of them.  Our account has been paid in full.  We also share in the victory, for we know that Jesus has defeated Satan.  He is powerless.  We, no longer, must bow to every sinful temptation that Satan may place before us, as we had done when we were his slaves.  We can say, ‘No, I don’t want to do anything that would displease my God.’  We, also, share in Christ’s victory, for we know that whatever Satan may send against us, whatever hardships we might be called upon to bear, they cannot overwhelm us.  Even if all of our earthly possessions were gone, we would still have our eternal inheritance in heaven.  The devil cannot touch our faith.  And, as Jesus has promised us, we will not be “tempted beyond what [we] can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)  Martin Luther in his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” wrote, “Though devils all the world should fill All eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpower us.  This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will.  He can harm us none; He’s judged, the deed is done.  One little word can fell him.”  We, the disciples of Jesus Christ, can boldly and confidently sing that hymn, because we have Security in our Savior’s Power.  The first disciples saw this for themselves that day in Capernaum.  We see it every day of our lives.
     However, it was not only the exorcism that got the people of Capernaum and Galilee talking.  After Jesus addressed the assembly in the synagogue, “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” (Verse 22)  Jesus held his audience spellbound while he taught.  It wasn’t just because of his speaking style or delivery.  It was the content of what Jesus said that held their attention.  He spoke with authority.  In other words, he knew what he was talking about.
     What a change this was from what they were used to hearing.  The problem with the rabbis, or teachers, of Jesus’ day was that their emphasis was teaching the people the traditions of the elders.  They were so concerned with teaching their man-made commands and opinions of other rabbis that they had great difficulty coming to a final conclusion about anything.  They were so busy explaining things about the Scriptures that they many times missed the message of the Scriptures.
     However, it was different when Jesus spoke and taught.  He did not proclaim the teachings of others.  He taught the Word of God.  It is no wonder that he spoke as one having authority.  He, as God, caused those Scriptures to be written.  He knew all of the Old Testament prophecies and, as God, knew how they would be fulfilled.  Jesus spoke with authority because he was the authority, the author of the Scriptures.  When the news about Jesus spread in Galilee, the exorcism was not the first thing that people talked about.  We read in verse 27, “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this?  A new teaching–and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’”  The first thing that the people talked about was not the miraculous exorcism.  It was the teaching that Jesus did and the authority with which he taught.
     This was one of the first lessons for Jesus’ disciples.  In Jesus they were face to face with the real authority.  His was the final word.  What came from Jesus’ lips was straight from God.  His teaching was the authority on the subject.
     We, too, would do well to learn the lesson that the disciples learned.  We read our magazines, our newspapers and our books.  We quote from them saying, “I read in the newspaper the other day that . . .”  We watch our televisions, listen to our radios, or go to the internet.  We quote from them saying, “I saw on the news. . .” or, in the old days, “Paul Harvey said . . .”  We treat them like they are the authorities, and, to some extent, they are.  But, never let us be fooled into thinking that they are the final authority.  Don’t just take their word for it, especially when dealing with moral issues.  The devil will use the many forms of the media to convince people that what they are doing is not sinful.  A few of the examples that come to mind are abortion, homosexuality, and active euthanasia.
     There is but one final authority, and that is God’s Word.  There is a certain security in knowing that God’s Word doesn’t change.  It remains the same from age to age.  This knowledge also gives us the strength to face up to the situations in our life.    Jesus compared it to building a house either on sand or on a rock.  When you put your trust elsewhere, other than God and his teachings as they are found in the Bible, it is like building your house on sand.  When the storms of life enter the picture, then life falls with a great crash.  But, if our lives are built on the solid foundation of God’s Word, we can stand up under the storms and floods that may enter our lives.  This also give us great reason to be involved with God’s Word, to strengthen our hold on him.  Then we have a peace of mind that no one else can have.  It is a special blessing that is given to the Christian.
     We enjoy many blessings as Christians.  We enjoy God’s protection and preservation.  We know that eternal life is ours.  This morning we have seen that we have security in our Savior’s power.  The devil must flee defeated.   We have the security of God’s unchanging Word.  May we enjoy all of the blessings that are ours as disciples, followers of Jesus Christ.  Amen.