St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Epiphany Lord Reveals His Authority

Sermon on Mark 1:29-39

Text: As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

‘You’re not the boss of me!’ said the angry three-year old to his brother, who was telling him what to do. ‘Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?’ Often it seems like people have trouble with authority. They will question by what authority someone is doing something: ‘Who told you to do that?’. Today, as we study this portion of God’s Word, we see Jesus as he shows his authority as the Lord of all. Today we observe as THE EPIPHANY LORD REVEALS HIS AUTHORITY. He will reveal his authority 1. Over Sickness, 2. Over Satan and 3. Over Sin.

Our text immediately follows the events of our text from last week. Jesus had taught in the synagogue in Capernaum. He had driven an evil spirit from a man. The people were amazed at his teachings.

Now, as the services conclude, we read in verse 29: “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.” Apparently, Jesus went to Andrew and Peter’s house for the evening meal.

But, when they got there, we read: “Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.” (Verse 30) No further details are given regarding Peter’s mother-in-law’s illness, other than it was a fever. It was enough to keep her in bed. It must have been, at least, somewhat severe, for Luke, the doctor, describes it as a “high fever.” (Luke 4:38)

In verse 31, we read, “So [Jesus] went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.” Jesus had compassion on her and took her by the hand. At that moment, the fever left her. Jesus healed her. Note that she recovered completely. If any of you have had the flu, you probably didn’t feel like jumping up and making supper. But, when Jesus healed her, her strength was restored immediately, and she began to wait on them. Jesus showed his authority over sickness.

So, also, we can see Jesus’ authority over sickness today. We often refer to Jesus as the “Great Physician.” This is more than just an honorary title. Jesus has the authority over sickness. We live in a day of fantastic medical breakthroughs. What doctors can do today was science fiction not all that long ago. With joint replacement, or heart surgery, or whatever medical example you might wish to give, it is truly amazing.

But, unless it is the will of God, it doesn’t matter what medical procedures are followed. If God says that a person’s time of life is to come to an end, it doesn’t matter what the doctor can or cannot do. The opposite is also true. There are many times when a person is supposedly beyond any sort of medical help yet makes a full recovery. Obviously, it is the Lord’s will that the person continues on the earth. No matter what modern man might think, or whatever medical advancements there might be, yet it is the Lord who has the ultimate authority over health and sickness.

Our text continues with the events of the day. “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.” (Verses 33&34) As soon as the Sabbath was completed at sunset, then the people began to carry the sick and suffering to Peter’s house. Those suffering demon possession were also brought. Some scoffers might say that when the Bible speaks of demon-possession, that it is just the poor, primitive medical knowledge that the people of that day had. They, obviously, couldn’t understand things like epileptic seizures, so they attributed them to “demons.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are two separate and distinct categories. Luke, the physician, speaks of both.

We might wonder why we read so much about demon-possession at the time of Christ, but don’t seem to see it today. Could it not be that Satan was unleashing his fiercest battle at that time, all in hope that Jesus would get distracted from his mission? For, if Jesus strayed even once, he would not be able to serve as our Savior. But, Jesus, as the Son of God shows his authority over Satan and his angels. When Jesus cast them from the bodies they possessed, we read: “He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” (Verse 34) Jesus was not going to accept the testimony of the devils, and they had to submit.

Jesus further showed his authority over Satan as he continued the way that would lead him to a cross. You and I are by nature the slaves of Satan. We cannot, on our own, do anything good. We cannot, on our own, break free from Satan’s grasp. Because of our sinfulness, our lack of love for God and each other, we deserved the same punishment as Satan, which is to say, an eternity in hell. But, in fulfillment of the prophecy given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Jesus came and by his life, suffering, death and resurrection, he crushed the serpent’s head. He ransomed us, set us free. Now we belong to the Lord, and no matter how Satan tries, he cannot pluck us from our Savior’s hand. The Lord has complete authority over Satan.

Our text continues with the events of the next morning. In verse 35 it says: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Just think about that for a moment. Jesus, the Son of God, took time, made time, to speak with his Father in prayer. He never got so busy that he forgot to pray. We would do well to follow his example. Sometimes we get so busy that we don’t make time to pray. ‘There is so much to do. How can I take the time?’ we might say to ourselves. But it is important for us to stay in contact with God. For, from him we receive the strength and ability to live for him.

But even here Jesus was not left alone. In verses 36 & 37, we read, “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’” The people were looking for Jesus. No doubt some of them were hoping to see more miraculous signs, more healings.

To this, Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Verse 38) Jesus was showing that he had not come to the earth to be just a miracle worker. He had come to be the Savior of the world. That is why Jesus speaks specifically about going to other villages so that he might preach to them, as well. The people of Capernaum had heard the message, but he wanted others to hear it, too.

So also, Jesus continues to tell us that he has authority over sin, both its guilt and power. While we may not directly hear him with our ears, yet he has made sure that the gospel message has continued to be spread from generation to generation. You and I have heard this beautiful message. The Holy Spirit has caused faith to be born and grow in our hearts. He has given us his Holy Supper by which we receive the strengthening of our faith as well as the forgiveness of our sins. Our Lord has the authority over sin. He has forgiven your sins and my sins.

While it might be that our sinful nature will balk at or question those whom God has placed in authority over us, we rejoice at the authority of our Lord. For, because of his authority, we live in peace and security. He has authority over sickness, Satan, and sin. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.