Jesus Has the Power!
January 29, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Let’s take a close look at the Gospel for today, Mark 1:21-28.
Let’s study this exciting Scripture together.
This morning’s Scripture is an exciting one - but it is in code. Let us look at this and decode it in order to unlock the blessing that God has for you and me in this reading.
21 They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.
“As was His Custom”
The first thing we glean from this is that when the Sabbath came Jesus entered the synagogue.
Every week Jesus went to synagogue and made connection with His heavenly Father. That was Jesus’s practice and way. I congratulate all of you here this morning, because, in being here, you are here following in the footsteps of the Master. Jesus went to church (synagogue) every Sunday. We do too. God knows that you come to church. Attending church is a way of getting close to the Lord. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.
Let me tell you a little bit about the synagogue system of the day. The synagogue was primarily a teaching place used to teach the Torah from the Bible (The first five books of our Bible). The synagogue was also a place for discussion and for prayer. It wasn’t a place for sacrifice, sacrifice was done at the Temple in Jerusalem, and there was only one Temple. The synagogue was the teaching place, the discussion and discovery place, and the exploring place. The Jews loved the Scripture, they loved to explore it and teach about it and learn about it at the synagogue.
The synagogue had a staff.
• There was a president who was basically an administrator and business administrator.
• Then there was a priest who handled the Holy symbols, and took out and put away the scrolls.
But - there was no preacher!
There was no person designated to study the Scripture and bring a message about it week after week.
Instead a different person from the congregation was selected each time by the president to preach the sermon. That was the practice of the day.
Jesus was known as someone who taught well. So they were glad to invite Him to take the seat of the teacher and to present the message for the day.
Jesus Has the Power - to Speak for God
22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Please underline the phrase “not as the scribes”. Now, what's that all about? Now who were the scribes, and how bad could they have been?
The scribes were a group of people who were Bible lawyers. They looked at the Bible and interpreted it. They made laws out of laws. They took the Bible's general principles, and chopped them up and made very specific legal interpretations of these principles.
So if the Bible phrase was, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, the scribes were the ones who interpreted what that Bible phrase meant. The scribes decided that it meant "no work". Here is an example of one of their laws about no work.
Say you needed drinking water, and it happened to be on the Sabbath (sundown Friday until sundown Saturday). You needed to lower a bucket to get water from the well. But - you had to tie a rope around the bucket handle, and tying a rope was interpreted as work. It was against the law. You were out of luck. No water.
However, a woman needs to get dressed on the Sabbath. She would use a belt to tie her garment. This was not considered work. So if you need water on the Sabbath, you may have a woman tie her belt around the bucket to get water, and this is not considered work! You got your water! (laughter from the congregation)
That is one little example of the kind of laws with which the scribes would burden the people.
This is why Jesus' preaching was praised as being "Not like the Scribes."
"As One who Has Authority"
When the scribes preached they were in the habit of backing up their words with quotes from Rabbis of a previous time, saying, for example, "Rabbi Gamaliel once said it is not legal to tie a rope to the bucket. But Rabbi Rosenthal said it is legal for a woman to tie her waist belt, and if she happens to be tying her belt around a bucket, it’s the same belt, so he says it is okay."
The scribes would constantly quote other authorities. Scribes had incredible memories, nothing was written down, and it was all handed down orally to the people. It is said of scribes that they need to have memories like lime lined wells. Meaning that they were not to lose any drops of knowledge.
But Jesus was not like the scribes. He didn’t quote other older authorities. Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus didn’t quote anybody else, for His words were the words of God. Jesus spoke with authority, He spoke from His own heart. The people loved that, they were amazed that He spoke this way to them. Jesus spoke as one with authority - not as the scribes.
Let’s continue with the Gospel.
Jesus Cures a Man
23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 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."
What does this mean? It means that someone was having a crisis, a breakdown, right in the middle of the service.
Back then, they blamed everything on demons. Illnesses of body and illnesses of spirit were all believed to be caused by different demons. In the middle of the service someone was having a breakdown.
Jesus Has the Power to Care
Jesus has the power to speak with the authority of God. Also, Jesus has the power to care. What did Jesus do? Did He say, please have your crisis someplace else? Did He say, please don’t say anything during the sermon? No, He didn’t. He listened and He cared.
Let us stop and think about this for a moment. I don’t know what was going on with the person, but can you relate to someone with turmoil inside?
Can you relate to an idea that is so negative that you just want to get it out of your life?
Can you relate to a fear that just makes you tremble?
Can you relate to something that is so overwhelming that you just can’t get it out of your mind?
If so, then you can relate to this Scripture.
The person was at the end of their rope, he didn’t know what to do. So what did Jesus do? Jesus had the power to care and the power to heal and bless. Let’s read what happened next.
Jesus Has the Power to Heal and Bless
25 But Jesus rebuked him (the spirit), saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!"
You see, the man said, have you come to destroy us? He was linking himself with the negativity within him. Maybe he thought that this was the end, and Jesus would destroy all. But Jesus separated the person from the negativity and said, “Come out of him!”
Jesus teaches that you are more than the crisis that you are facing. He wanted the negativity to leave the man, and He wanted the man to be whole. Let us read what happened next.
26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
Please underline the phrase, “came out of him.” That is the glory and that is the healing that Jesus did. There is a separation between the negative idea that holds you and causes the crisis - and who you truly are.
Jesus says you are more than, and separate from, the negativity that is crushing you.
27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus has the power to speak with the authority of God. Jesus has the power to care about what you are going through. Jesus has the power to heal and to bless. Please consider these three things as you go through this week. Jesus is there for you, waiting to help, waiting to bless and waiting to heal. Let us let Him in. We serve a great, great Lord.
An unknown writer expressed it this way:
Socrates taught for forty years. Plato for fifty. Aristotle for forty. And Jesus of Nazareth only three and a half years. Yet the influence of Christ’s ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined years of teaching from these great philosophers.
Jesus painted no pictures, yet some of the finest artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him.
Jesus wrote no poetry but Dante, Milton and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him.
Jesus composed no music, still Hayden, Handel, Beethoven, Bach and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection with the music they composed in His praise.
Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter from Nazareth. It took a Roman Centurion stationed at the foot of the cross, who watched Him die, to sum it up, “Surely this man was the son of God.”
Let me read you some characteristics of Jesus that I gleaned from reading this Gospel.
Jesus was faithful. He was amazing, authoritative. He was original, knowledgeable. He was smart, caring, liberating, powerful and famous.
This is the Lord that we serve and this is the Lord that loves you.
Here's the good news: this week, you can walk with Him.
Friend, walk with confidence.
What a Friend you have in Him.
He loves you and I do, too. Have a wonderful week.
© 2012 Anthony J. Godlefski