Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hearing the Words of Jesus

Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.  Mark 1:23-25
Hearing the words of Jesus, the crowds were amazed that He spoke using Himself as the authority.  But then something happened right in their midst that stunned them, made them sit up and take notice. He backed up what he taught with action.
It may have been on Jesus’ very first visit to the Synagogue, in the middle of his sermon, that a man with an evil spirit interrupted him. Jesus then demonstrated the authority of his teaching with his power over the spirits. Let’s take a look at what happened.
The first thing to notice is that the man did not burst into the synagogue disrupting the service. Mark tells us that this was a man within their synagogue, probably a respected lay person and a productive member of society. The synagogue leaders would not permit any other kind.
A second thing to notice is that this man’s affliction is only identified as an evil spirit.  The demon is not tied to any sickness.  What then was this demon doing to this man?  We cannot say for sure but I would suggest that the demons influence in this case was of a moral nature.  Now, I don’t know what moral issue this man had but it was tearing him up.  What do you think it was?  You pick one: a demon of hate, revenge, perverted sex, unbridled lust for power, uncontrolled greed, distorted ambition, fear, guilt, envy, jealousy.  Or perhaps it was the demon of lust, negativism, slander, deceit, revenge, greed, gossip.  Which one? These demons are all around us and uncontrolled, these demons will destroy life.
A third thing to notice is that this man had given authority to this demon. He was possessed.  The demon had gained control and he had lost control. Paul reminds us that the chief demon himself, Satan, is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
There are authorities and teachings in this world that you can use to try and overpower these demons.  You can turn to education, sociology, history, philosophy, or psychology, even religion. All these have a certain kind of power, but not the power of Jesus.
Other teachings have authority but not the authority of Jesus' new teaching. “What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth, have you come to destroy us?” the evil spirit asks. “I know who you are, the holy one of God.”  The demon is not even addressed. He acknowledges, of his own accord, that one with a greater authority has arrived. “Be Quiet,” Jesus speaks sternly, “Come out of him.” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
Now notice this last thing: The people were amazed.  Something new, something astonishing just happened.  The authority of God was occurring before their eyes.  Like watching Moses part the Red Sea or watching the walls of Jericho fall, the power of God was present.  What is this?” they asked. A new teaching and with authority. He even gives orders to evil sprits and they obey him.
Education can make us intelligent.
Sociology can give us cultural knowledge.
History can give us world knowledge.
Philosophy teaches us conceptual knowledge.
Science teaches us the natural laws.
Psychology offers behavioral knowledge.
Religion imparts divine knowledge.
But in the end all of these do not have the authority to control the moral demons that plague mankind’s soul. We need something more, a new teaching, someone with authority.
Here is what I have learned. I think in your life you have earned this too.  These intellectual disciplines can offer us self-knowledge.  They help us see ourselves more clearly and are incredibly important for that reason.  But, the more clearly we see ourselves, the more we realize our need for salvation, for some authority outside ourselves, some power to deliver us. We don’t simply need healing; we need to be saved, delivered from the demons seeking to destroy us.
I believe Jesus brings that new kind of teaching, a new authority into this world to save, to make us whole, to overcome the demons that are bent on our destruction.
Scripture to Claim:

They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee. Mark 1:27-28

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