January 28, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Sermon Text; Mark 1:21-28

The portion of God's Word we focus on a little more closely today is taken from Mark's Gospel chapter one, looking at verses 21 to 28. God's Word says:

Then they went into Capernaum. On the next Sabbath day, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching, because He was teaching them as one who has authority and not as the experts in the law. Just then there was a man with an unclean spirit in their synagogue. It cried out, “What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”

Jesus rebuked the spirit, saying, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”

The unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions, and after crying out with a loud voice, it came out of him.

Everyone was so amazed that they began to discuss this with each other. They said, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey Him!”

News about Him spread quickly through all the region of Galilee.

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


As we get into the Gospel of Mark we understand Mark is writing to Gentiles, people who didn't know their Old Testament Scriptures as well as the Jews. But, Mark is pretty quickly getting into the ministry of Jesus. You have heard me say this before, if you could break down Jesus' ministry into His three years, they would be broken down this way.

-His first year would be His Year of Inauguration.

-The second year would be His Year of Popularity.

-The third year would be His Year of Opposition.

Here we are only in the 21st verse, of the first chapter of Mark, and already he is into the second year of Jesus' ministry, the year of His popularity.

He quickly glances over John the Baptist preparing for Jesus. He quickly glances over Jesus' baptism, and Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. He quickly glances over the calling of the first disciples, and he gets to Jesus' very first miracle, in Mark. John tells us Jesus' first miracle is the changing of water into wine.

But, here is what Mark wants to focus on. He wants to focus on the actions of Jesus. He is not so concerned about the words of Jesus, but he wants to focus on the actions of Jesus. Right after our text he talks about Jesus healing many people. He talks about Jesus healing a man who was paralyzed. He talks about Jesus cleansing a man who had leprosy. He is focusing on the actions of Jesus, the authority of Jesus, and the power of Jesus.

Our text for today takes us to Capernaum. It is a city in northern Israel. It is a city on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. It is a city in the crossroads. It is a great place to begin your ministry. It would be the home base Jesus would use, throughout the course of His ministry.

It is a Saturday, which is the Sabbath Day. So, Jesus goes to the synagogue. While He is in the synagogue, He gets up to preach, and to proclaim God's Word.

What is the result? The result is people are amazed. They are amazed at the words of Jesus. Why? He teaches not like other people, but He teaches “as One who has authority”.

Here is one of the things we understand about some of the Rabbis in Jesus' day. They would teach. Then, they would expound. But, then they would talk about the opinions of men, or they would talk about the traditions of men.

Jesus was speaking with authority, because

He was expounding on God's Word.

Remember right before this, when Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, how did He respond to the temptations of the devil? He always went to what scripture said. He said,

“It is written...”

And then, He would expound on what scripture says. That is what Jesus is doing here, as well.

During the course of preparing for this sermon this past week, I was doing some research. One of the things I just stumbled across is a book I had never heard of before. It was a book entitled The Gospel according to The New York Times. The subtitle said something like this: How the world's most powerful news organization shapes our minds and our values.

Sometimes, newspapers like The New York Times can shape our minds, and our values, can't it? That is what was happening in Jesus' day, with the people who were listening to the Rabbis, who were expounding on their own personal opinions, or they were expounding on the traditions of men.

But, here is Jesus teaching with all authority, expounding on what God's Word says.

Right before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He talked about the authority He had, right before He gave The Great Commission, when He said,

“All authority on Heaven and on earth

has been give to me.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded them.

And lo, I am with you always

to the very end of the age.”

As Jesus expounded on God's Word with all authority, He was showing Himself to be a prophet, and fulfilling what our Old Testament Lesson for today said. Here is what Moses prophesied in Deuteronomy, chapter eighteen, verse fifteen. He had said,

“The Lord, your God, will raise up for you a prophet like me

from among you, from your brother Israelites.”

Jesus is fulfilling that verse in our text for today, as He is a prophet with authority, proclaiming God's Word.

Well, not only are the people amazed with Jesus' teaching, but they are about to be amazed by Jesus' actions. As Jesus was teaching, there was a man who came into the synagogue with an unclean spirit (that is how Mark says it). Luke tells us this man is demon possessed. It is this demon possessed man who comes to Jesus, and says, “What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” And then, the demon says,

“I know who you are - the Holy One of God.”

He has an unclean spirit. He is demon possessed.

Also, during the course of this past week, as I was researching for this sermon, I came across a commentator who was talking about this demon possession. The book I am about to quote is from Johnanes Ylivasaker. He wrote the commentary, The Gospels, on the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Back when he wrote this, a hundred years ago, he wrote it in Norwegian, because there was very little written in the Norwegian language, commenting on the Gospels. I can't read Norwegian, so I am happy it was translated into English. This is what he said about demon-ism.

“What is the nature of demon-ism? When a person is possessed, their divine nature is entirely stifled under the alien power of the devil. It is entirely unresisting, and submissive. In obsession, the devil employs the human organism as his personal instrument. He speaks, and acts as if it were his own. Even the human spirit is forced from its central position in the personality of the possessed person. The human entity is null, and void. It is the demoniac spirit who rules, and controls the individual. It is the rational principle of the demon, which operates through the human personality, thinks its thoughts, speaks its words, and acts its deeds. A foreign entity has forced out the human, and has taken the entire personality into its service.”
And so, that is what happens as this demoniac comes to Jesus, and says, “What do we have to do with you? Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus shows the control He has. Jesus shows the authority He has. We might remember when Jesus had control, and authority over nature, right? It was when He was with His disciples out in the boat, and there was that storm. Jesus was sleeping, and the disciples came, and woke Him up. What did Jesus do? He spoke the Word. “Be quiet. Be still.” And, nature needed to listen to Jesus.

As Jesus is speaking to this demoniac, all He has to say is, “Be quiet!” Really, the Greek word there for “be quiet” is “muzzle”.

“Be muzzled!”

It wasn't too long ago I was in the presence of a man who was holding a dog. The dog barked, and that man simply took his hand, and held it over the dog's mouth. What was he doing? He was muzzling the dog. He was telling the dog to be quiet, and not bark, anymore.

Without even laying a hand on this demon, Jesus, just through speaking The Word, shows the authority He has.

“Be quiet!”

Right after that, He told the demon to leave that man. After a short convulsion, the man was OK. The demon had left him, and Jesus, through His actions, showed the control, and authority He had.

People were not only amazed with Jesus' teaching, but they were also amazed with His actions, as well.

How do we see ourselves fitting into our text for today? We may wonder, just like the demon, “What is this to us? Jesus what do you have to do with us?”

And yet, as we see our text, we, ourselves, are placed right into the midst of this text.

I am going to start with me. I want you to know I have an unclean spirit living in me. Do you know what that unclean spirit is called? It is called sin.

You have an unclean spirit that is living inside of you. Do you know what that unclean spirit is called? It is called sin. That unclean spirit may rear its ugly head in the form of arrogance, or greed, or pride, or addictions. But, each and every one of us is controlled by sin. Each and every one of us are controlled by that unclean spirit we have living inside of us.

Sometimes, here is what we do. Sometimes, we go to 'The Gospel according to the New York Times'. We go to public opinions, or we go to the traditions of men to see who is in authority, and who can help us out.

But, Jesus wants us to see He is the One who is in authority and control, not only with His teaching, but also with His actions. That is what Mark wants to focus on, through his Gospel. As he focuses on the actions of Jesus, he wants us to see how powerful Jesus is. Jesus is omnipotent.

Mark wants us to see that Jesus is God, and He has all control in our lives.

And so, I share with you a portion of what the writer to the book of Hebrews wrote, when in chapter two, he said,

“Since we have flesh and blood, Jesus shared in our humanity so that by Jesus' death, He might destroy him who holds the power of death (that is the devil), and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by fear of death. For, surely it is not angels that Jesus helped, but us. For this reason Jesus had to be made like us in every way, in order that He might become a merciful, and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because Jesus suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” That is what Jesus came to do. Not only to share that He has all authority with His Words, but He has all authority with His actions.

What was it Jesus was willing to do for you, and for me? Jesus was willing to take His actions to the cross.

At the cross Jesus made full, and complete payment

for all of our sins,

so that we could have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

People were amazed, weren't they? They were amazed not only at Jesus' teaching, but they were also amazed at His actions, as well. As Jesus was interacting with the demoniac, and the demoniac responded to Jesus, “I know who you are - the Holy One of God”, that demon was unable to benefit from what he had said, because he was subject to judgment in Hell for all eternity.

But, it is different for you, and for me. It is different for you, and for me, because we too can say, “I know who you are. I know who you are!” But, it is more than just knowing who Jesus is. It is also believing who Jesus is. Today, through the power of God's Word, I am so happy we are able to say, “Jesus, I know who you are. Jesus you are our Savior. You are our redeemer. Jesus you are the Holy One of God.”

With the help of the Holy Spirit, through the power of God's Word, on a daily, and weekly basis to be strengthened in our faith in Jesus, as our Savior, so that we benefit, with sins forgiven, and everlasting life in Heaven.