Sermon: Teaching with Authority Text: Mark 1:21-28

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1 Pastor Chris Matthis Epiphany Lutheran Church, Castle Rock, Colorado Epiphany 4, Series B Saturday, January 31 st, 2015 Sunday, February 1 st, 2015 Sermon: Teaching with Authority Text: Mark 1:21-28 Focus: Jesus authoritative Word saves us from our sins and the power of the devil. Function: That they would gladly hear and learn the doctrine taught by Jesus. Structure: Story-Applied Locus: We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it (SC, 3 rd Commandment). Story Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word of the Lord: And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:21-22, ESV). 1 The people in the synagogue were astonished at Jesus teaching! They were amazed, dumbfounded, overwhelmed, perplexed (Greek: ekplēssō). And why were they astonished? For he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. Jesus didn t teach like the scribes and Pharisees. He spoke as one having authority. The rabbis of Jesus day never spoke on their own authority, but always relied on other rabbis and religious traditions to support their arguments. For example, in the Mishnah, we read Rabbi Joshua said: I have received as a tradition from Rabban Johanan, who heard from 1 All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.

2 Matthis 2 his teacher, and his teacher from his teacher, as a Halakah [oral teaching of the Law] given to Moses from Sinai, that. 2 Jesus, however, did not rely on rabbinical writings or oral tradition to make the case for his teaching. Jesus spoke on his own divine authority or quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures. The only time he quoted other rabbis was to refute them, as he did repeatedly in the Sermon on the Mount: You have heard that it was said But I say to you (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44). In other words, The rabbis told you one thing, but I, Jesus,, tell you something entirely different! Jesus did not teach as the scribes, but he taught as one who had authority! In fact, Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy from Deuteronomy 18 that God would raise up a prophet like [Moses] (Deut. 18:15) from among the Israelites own number. The prophet like Moses was no ordinary prophet. Yahweh promised that he would put his words in the Prophet s mouth and that whoever did not listen to his words (i.e., obey them!), would be held accountable for their rebellion (Deut. 18:18-19). Jesus is the Prophet like Moses the greatest prophet ever to live and yet so much more than just a prophet. For he taught them as one who had authority because he was the very Son of God. (Aside: By the way, this is one of many reasons why Christians must reject Islam as heresy. Islam claims that Jesus was a great prophet in a long line of Allah s messengers, but for Muslims, Jesus is not the greatest prophet. That honor they reserve for Mohammed. But for an illiterate merchant s son from the Middle East to acclaim himself the last and greatest prophet of God, he must deny the place and divinity of Christ. And so there is no reconciliation between 2 Eduyoth 8:7 in Mishnah as quoted by James W. Voelz in Mark 1:1-8:26 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013), 159.

3 Matthis 3 Christianity and Islam, and we must never, ever claim that the two religions worship the same God. That would be a lie!) Jesus taught them as one who had authority. That is why, of course, the man with the unclean spirit showed up to interrupt the synagogue service. Satan cannot stand for people to hear the Word of God, especially not from the One who is the very Word of God incarnate. Nothing is more dangerous to the devil s kingdom than the right preaching of the Gospel. From earlier in Mark 1, we know Jesus basic message: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). And if God s kingdom is coming, that means Satan s kingdom is coming to an end. The message that God s kingdom is here, so it s time to repent and believe the Good News is not the kind of news that Satan or his minions want people to hear. And that is why the devil makes a scene. The man with the unclean spirit cries 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 (Mark 1:23-24). The unclean spirit knows who Jesus is, but he doesn t love him. Knowledge and faith are not the same thing. Even the demons believe and shudder! (Jas. 2:19). It s one thing to have intellectual knowledge of Jesus and quite another thing to love and believe in him as Savior. So Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit. Be silent! Jesus commands. Come out of him! Jesus orders, and out it comes! That is the kind of authority that Jesus has! With just a word, he exorcises the demon and frees the man from Satan s tyranny. The people in the synagogue were astonished and amazed. What is this? they asked. A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him (Mark 1:27). No one had ever heard such a thing or seen such a man ever before. And so you

4 Matthis 4 can see why his hearers would be astonished, amazed, perplexed, and perhaps even a bit perturbed by his teaching. In fact, the question of Jesus authority would come up again and again as his human opponents the scribes and Pharisees carried out the bidding of Jesus spiritual enemies Satan and his minions. By what authority are you doing these things? they would ask. Or who gave you the authority to do them? (Mark 11:28). By God s authority Jesus did what he did because he is the Son of God. Jesus had authority to teach the Word of God and authority to cast out unclean spirits. Eventually, his authority would set him on a collision course with jealous Jewish religious leaders. But for now, at the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry, the crowds couldn t stop talking about him and couldn t get enough of him (Mark 1:28). Word about Jesus preceded him wherever he went. Application And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:22). When is the last time that you were amazed at Jesus teaching, his doctrine (KJV), his Word? Are you astonished by Jesus teaching? If not, then why not? If so, then what is the evidence of your amazement? As sinners, we tend to have one of two reactions to Jesus word: either boredom or rebellion. We often yawn at God s Word, imagining that we know it all or at least enough and don t need to continue to study and grow in God s Word. Many church members never set foot in Bible class or Sunday school. Most Christians do not read their Bibles daily. And despite pastors insistence that confirmation isn t graduation, very few young people remain active in the church after confirmation. We ve been there, done that, and now we re just done with it. We are bored by God s Word.

5 Matthis 5 Others of us rebel against God s Word. The Bible tells us things about ourselves that we don t want to hear in particular that we are sinners. But we don t want to repent of our sins. We d rather wallow in our filth. We don t want to be renewed by the transforming of our minds. We d rather keep our sinful attitudes and shameful thinking. The doctrines of Scripture seem old fashioned and out of date. Isn t it time for God and the Church to get with the times? The Bible warns that the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4). And so rather than hearing good, doctrinal sermons that teach us the Word of God, we would rather hear messages filled with funny anecdotes, feel-good slogans, and pop psychology. We don t want to hear about sin and grace, the cross of Christ, the resurrection, or Judgment Day. We just want to feel good. Sadly, many of us would rather watch Joel Osteen and other feel good preachers on TV than to study the Scriptures or listen to solid preaching and teaching. The New Testament talks about milk Christians and meat Christians. We now have a generation of super sugary cola Christians. But Lutheran pastors are not peddlers of God s Word. I am a called and ordained servant of the Word, and it is by his authority I preach that very Word. Keep a close watch in yourself and the teaching, writes the apostle Paul to the young pastor Timothy. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim. 4:16). I get angry when I hear pastors or people say that they don t bother about matters of doctrine. They talk as if doctrine is mere dogma human traditions and silly notions. But according to the apostle Paul, doctrine saves people s souls. Doctrine is divine. It isn t boring or bad. It s a matter of life and death. As such, Christians should be excited and

6 Matthis 6 delighted by the Bible. God s Word should be our meditation all day long (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2; 119:97). We should have a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can only be satisfied by the holy honey of God s Word (Ps. 19:10; 119:103). Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps. 34:8). After Jesus famous miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, the crowds melted away in discouragement and disillusionment. The feeding of the five thousand was more than just dinner and a show. It came with a sermon too! But the people couldn t comprehend or appreciate the words of Jesus Bread of Life sermon. In fact, it disgusted them. This is a hard teaching! they said. Who can accept it? (John 6:60). So Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, Do you want to go away too? To which Simon Peter replied, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and we have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God (John 6:68-69). Jesus words are life, and he is the Holy One of God. Notice that Peter believed the same thing about Jesus that the unclean spirit did (cp. Mark 1:24). But unlike the demons, Peter loved Jesus and loved his Word. And, even more importantly, Jesus loved Peter and loves him still. Only Jesus has the words of eternal life. For he teaches as one who has authority, and not as the scribes and Pharisees. And, as the disciples of Jesus, we need as much of that Word as we can get. And so we dare not despise preaching and God s Word by becoming bored with the Bible or taking offense at the pastor s message without taking the time to see what the Scriptures really say. I never heard this before! we protest. Usually, that means either you weren t listening before or you just haven t done enough Bible study.

7 Matthis 7 I remember a woman in my previous congregation who got angry and stormed out of Bible class one day. We were studying the Book of Revelation, and she got offended when I began teaching about Jesus promise of the new heaven and the new earth. I reminded the class, on the basis of Scripture, that the Christian hope is not to die and go to heaven; rather, the Christian hope is for Jesus to come back, raise our bodies from the dead and reunite them with our souls to enjoy the new heaven and new earth forever with God. But this woman could not conceive of that possibility. So she stood up angrily, declaring, I never heard that before! I don t like it, and I don t believe it. So I m leaving! I begged her to stay and give me the opportunity to show her what the Bible says. But she wouldn t even listen. What is this?! she demanded. A new teaching! But she didn t recognize the authority of Scripture to break through her personal opinions and pious misconceptions. But the rest of the class stayed. And they were amazed by the wonderful promises of God s Word. They were like the noble Jews of Berea, who searched the Scriptures to see if the things taught by the apostle Paul were true (Acts 17:10-12). Dear brothers and sisters, I beg you not to become bored or rebel against the Word of God. Listen to what Jesus says in his Word. For he teaches as one who has authority. Jesus has authority to command the unclean spirits (Mark 1:27). He has authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5, 9-10). He has authority to lay down his life, and he has authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18). All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to him (Matt. 28:18). And he gives that same authority to his Church and its pastors to preach and teach the Word of God and to drive out demons in his name (Mark 3:14-15). Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

8 Matthis 8 Jesus teaches as one having authority because he is the ultimate authority: Jesus Christ, the Son of God (1:1). He is Savior and Lord. And by his death and resurrection, he proves that he has authority to save and rescue you. Alleluia! Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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