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A New Teaching With Authority, February 4, 2024

Mark 1:21-28, YES!!  JESUS TEACHES A NEW THING WITH AUTHORITY!!  I just wish everyone in this world knew how powerful JESUS’ LOVE really is!! 

          This story about how Jesus’ Love can heal us!!

          We have all prayed for a lot of friends and loved one’s in our lives.  Some of them have been healed of their disease while on this earth; and some of them have died and gone to heaven healed and whole and up with Jesus for all eternity !!

          JESUS HEALS!!  And when we die on this earth, because of GOD’S Grace, through our faith, Jesus will receive us in Heaven to spend eternity with Jesus and our loved ones.

          Mark lets us know from the beginning of his Gospel the identity of Jesus; chapter 1 verse 1, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” 

          My friends, that’s Jesus Authority:

          The Christ of GOD’S people and The Son of GOD!!

          Then Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and the Spirit of GOD descended on him like a dove.  Then the voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

          The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days and the angels waited on him. 

          So we, the readers and hearers of GOD’S Word, know Jesus’ identity, and we know he’s got GOD’S Holy Spirit leading him to fight Satan, who is No Match for Jesus.

                    Mark 1:14, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

                    Two commands that Jesus gives us to give us our start our Christian lives as followers of Jesus:

          #1) Repent and #2) Believe in the Good News. 

          REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOOD NEWS!! 

          My friends, that is the basis of our faith.

          Mark and the other Gospel writers use Jesus’ healing powers to show his authority comes from GOD. 

          In today’s story Jesus and his disciples come to Capernaum.  This Hebrew town’s name means, “pleasant town.”  Capernaum sat on the northwestern coast of the Sea of Galilee about 20 miles northeast of Nazareth.  Jesus spent a lot of time there during the three years of His ministry.  This is the area where several of His apostles lived and fished.  Capernaum was the center of Jesus activities in the Galilean region and his town during that time.  Jesus taught in the local synagogue.  Capernaum was also the home town of the apostles Andrew, Peter, James, John, and the tax collector Matthew.

          They came to the synagogue on the Sabbath and Jesus started teaching and all the folks were astounded because he taught as having the authority to teach and they knew he wasn’t a trained scribe or Pharisee.  I can hear them now, “Who does he think he is!!  Wellll, he’s just a carpenter’s son from Nazareth.”

          Mark consistently sets up Jewish religious leaders as opponents of Jesus.  Scribes appear along side other groups in this Gospel and are associated with local Pharisees who end up working with Jerusalem officials.  As the story unfolds, these religious leaders are disturbed by the challenge that Jesus’ teaching and activity pose to their traditions.

          Now on to the exorcism story.  Many of you have seen the movie “The Exorcist.”  That’s not this story; but this story is about Jesus healing a demon possessed man. 

          This story follows the standard exorcism stories from Jesus’ time: #1) encounter between the afflicted person and the exorcist;

          #2) the action of the exorcist; #3) and the demon’s departure. 

                    Mark concludes this scene by describing the crowd’s response to Jesus’ teaching and the spread of Jesus’ reputation in the surrounding countryside.  Verse 27, “And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this?  A new teaching with authority! 

          He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’  28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”

          JESUS LOVES US!!  AND JESUS HEALS US WITH HIS LOVE!!

                    Mark uses words like “at once,” and “immediately” to move the story along and add intensity to the mission of Jesus.  And Mark includes 3 more exorcism stories in the Gospel to show emphatically that Demons have no power against Jesus!! 

          Jesus heals and teaches with Authority.

                    As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.  Simon’s mother-in -law had a fever and Jesus healed her. 

          Verse 32 “That evening, at sundown, they brought to him ALL who were sick or possessed with demons.  And the whole city was gathered around the door.  And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” 

                    My friends, GOD’S Word said Jesus healed ALL the folks brought to him!!  Jesus can heal what ails us.    When we think of healing it is usually our bodies we focus on, or may be mentally. 

          Jesus can heal all our ills; BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT!! 

          A friend taught me to also think about adding emotions and relationships.  How do you heal your emotions? 

          By going to Jesus!!  If you’re angry, take it to Jesus and he will help you calm down.  But we have to trust Jesus with all five areas:

          Body, Mind, Spirit, Emotions, and relationships.  If there’s something wrong in one area, it will eventually bleed over into the other four areas.

                    Back to Mark’s Gospel.  The demons knew that Jesus was the Holy One of GOD, and the fact that his coming marks the end of their own domination over human beings.  The end of demonic power is a sign that the present evil age is coming to an end.  The crowd sees Jesus as a powerful miracle worker,

              but they DO NOT recognize that he is Son of GOD. 

                    Satan’s power is being broken up because the Lord has come to redeem HIS people.  Therefore, the exorcism indicates what it means for the kingdom of GOD to draw near.  The kingdom cannot be separated from the person of Jesus, who embodies GOD’s power.  Until Jesus comes again, evil won’t be totally shut down.  BUT GOD offers us GOD’S Holy Spirit to fight the evil in this broken world, until Jesus returns!!

                    The unclean spirit is the antithesis of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus possesses.  The demons provide insight into Jesus’ identity for readers and hearers of the Gospel but not for characters within the story. 

                    Although Christians today rarely attribute mental illness or epilepsy to demonic possession or other diseases to divine anger, they are aware on the spiritual dimensions of healing. 

          Many of us have asked the question, “If GOD is all powerful, why didn’t he heal our loved one on this earth?”  There is never an easy answer.  But I believe that it’s ok to ask the question and it’s ok to get mad at GOD, and it’s ok to even yell at GOD. 

          GOD is big enough to allow us to vent our true feelings. 

          GOD wants us to be real with GOD about our true feelings and true emotions.  THE MORE REAL WE ARE WITH GOD, THE MORE GOD WILL BE REAL TO US!!  We will be able to hear GOD more clearly, if we express our true feelings to GOD.

          Most people have experienced both the joy of a better-than-expected recovery and the pain and anger of unexpected medical complications or sometimes even death.  The cycle of self-accusation or anger at a family member that often accompanies severe illness or death can be as devastating as the disease itself. 

                    Serious mental illness, even when controlled by medication, also strains the resources of family and friends.  Sometimes we may think that it would be easier to attribute such afflictions to demons that endure the dashed expectations accompanying each new type of therapy and the lurking fear of suicide. 

          My friends, when we NEED HEALING we need give everything up to Jesus.  He already knows it; but we still need to say it out loud

          When we are HEALED we need to tell Jesus the whole truth, OF HOW THANKFUL WE ARE!! 

          He already knows it; but we still need to say it out loud

                    Jesus comes to us so he can touch us and we can touch Him.  Our church is helping people connect to Jesus by YOU ALL MAKING A CONNECTION TO THOSE AROUND YOU,

          IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

          Please hear this devotion by Henri Nouwen, “God Pitched His Tent Among Us”

          “When St. John says that fear is driven out by perfect love, he points to a love that comes from God, a divine love.  He does not speak about human affection, psychological compatibility, mutual attraction, or deep interpersonal feelings.  All of that has its value and beauty, but the perfect love about which St. John speaks embraces and transcends all feelings, emotions, and passions.

          The perfect love that drives out all fear is the divine love in which we are invited to participate.  The home, the intimate place, the place of true belonging, is, therefore, not a place made by human hands. 

          It is fashioned for us by God, who came to pitch his tent among us, invite us to his place, and prepare a room for us in his own house.”

          Henri J. M. Nouwen

          "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another."

          1 JOHN 3:16 (NIV)

          One of our friends, Doug Reed was really sick back in about 1980.  In 1977 Doug and I had a wonderful vacation to Colorado, California and Arizona.  It was the only Christmas I ever spent away from my family; and the Last! 

          Doug even lived with Hope and I for about a year in 1979.

                    In 1980 Doug started feeling ill, tired all of the time; he had blotches on his chest.  He was diagnosed with leukemia.  It was so hard for everyone, because Doug was so loved by everyone.  Treatments, hospital stays, and bone marrow transplants.  So many times, his hopes, his family’s hopes, and his friends’ hopes were dashed.

                    I went to visit Doug in the hospital.  We tried to talk about old times, with no success.  Doug said, “I’m afraid, my friend, I’m afraid of dying.”  I felt so inadequate sitting there in that hospital chair next to Doug’s bed.  I felt so unable to provide comfort. 

          I hung around for a while and then left, so sad and so empty.

                    A week later Doug died.  We had a great celebration of Doug’s life after his funeral and told story after story. 

          But I will never forget feeling so inadequate…walking away from Doug’s hospital room.  I felt so unable to provide comfort. 

                    About a decade later, we got back into church and I started answering my call into ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.  Now I have something to offer those who are afraid, ill, hurting, lonely—JESUS CHRIST, THE HOLY ONE OF GOD, THE SON OF GOD. 

                    AND I KNOW JESUS HEALS.  Jesus, our Lord and Savior is also our healer and redeemer. 

          Doug Reed, died and went to Heaven!  He is totally healed!! 

          He is totally healed and whole; up with Jesus, with his family, and with his friends!!

          My friends, I’ve learned,  I TRUST GOD BECAUSE HE KNOWS BEST!!  I TRUST GOD!!  WHEN I PRAY, THY WILL BE DONE!!

                    When a loved one of ours is ill, I believe we should always pray for GOD’S healing power to come through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  BUT sometimes that healing doesn’t happen on this earth.  We also pray, “THY WILL BE DONE!!”

          GOD doesn’t take our loved ones!  GOD receives our loved ones in GOD’S loving arms!!  JESUS HEALS!!

          In Jesus’ Name We Pray, Amen!

          We prayed as we prepared for Holy Communion!!

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