Archive for the ‘Mark 1:21-28’ Category

Do You Know Who He Is?

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

4th Sunday in Epiphany B, January 28, 2018
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Mark 1:21-28

Click here for audio of this message

“The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen”. [Deuteronomy 18:15]

Ask ten different people who Jesus is and you’ll most likely get ten different answers. Some will tell you that He’s their higher power. Some will say that He’s their source of peace. Some will answer, it’s not who He is but who He was as an historical figure that matters. I think one of the funniest answers became popular in the early 90’s on bumper stickers: “Jesus is my co-pilot.” And then several years later, another bumper sticker declared: “If Jesus is your co-pilot, move over.” And from that bumper sticker came the ever popular country song, “Jesus Take the Wheel”.

Do you know who He is… do you know who He really is? He is the one that God raised up, a prophet like Moses from among the Hebrews, and it is to Him we must listen! And what’s His message? Well, it’s a new message with authority and power; a message that’s clear, and concise; a message that drives out demons with a single Word.

Can you imagine being in that synagogue in Capernaum when Jesus taught his simple message of repentance and forgiveness.

While He was declaring that the kingdom of God was at hand it broke out right before them in power! Everyone was astonished at His teaching, because it was new and it had authority. It was new because it declared God’s forgiving love for repentant sinners. And it had authority because it had the power to drive out demons. “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit (a demon). And he cried out, “What have you do to with us, Jesus of Nazareth! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” And what did Jesus do? With authority and power, He commanded the demon to shut up and leave the poor man. And immediately the demon did exactly as Jesus commanded him!

I wonder how many people there that day knew who Jesus really was? They should have known, because what they went out and told others, were the very words that were prophesied long ago. They said that what they heard and witnessed was “a new teaching with authority!” But prophecy can be a tricky thing. As the Chinese wise man once said, “It’s very difficult to prophesy, especially about the future!”

In a sense, prophecy is a little like space travel. We’ve learned a lot about our past and gained insight about the future of our world by going into space and looking down on our earth. We’ve learned about weather patterns, location of past and present oil and other natural resources, and we’ve even learned a lot about how our climate is changing. In a sense, we’ve learned things we never could have until we were given the proper perspective. And in a similar way, prophecy takes us out of the limitations of our current perspective and allows us to take on the big picture. And that’s what God was doing through Moses when He promised that a new prophet was coming, a prophet that would speak a new Word from God!

Why did the people need a new message?

Well, because they just weren’t getting the old one. When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses, He was speaking something about His own nature. He was speaking in Spirit and in truth. He was teaching them that He alone was holy, perfect, and righteous, and His people must become the same. How? By hearing God’s Word in spirit and in truth. They had to first be honest with God and then themselves; they had to confess that they couldn’t be as God commanded them to be without His divine help. Soon, God’s sinful people realized this very truth. In Exodus 19, they cried out to Moses: “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

And yet God must speak and they must listen, because it’s only through His Word that forgiveness and new life can come to sinful men and women. But why must God’s Word make us afraid of Him? Because our fear forces us to see and deal with our own sin. That is always the primary purpose of God’s law. But our sinful nature tries to twist the purpose of His law to fit our sinful desires.

So at first we might try to ignore our sins, which the law shows us, or maybe down-play them. We might incorrectly see the law as a self-help tool and say, “Finally, some teaching I can sink my teeth into.” But this kind of approach to God’s Word lacks spirit and truth; it stops us from realizing just how perfect God is and how sinful we are! So God’s law like a great spotlight keeps shinning His truth into our sinful lives until we realize that no matter how hard we try to be good, we will always fall short of the demands of His Law. After we fail over and over again to be perfectly good, it’s God’s will that we’ll finally arrive at this frightening conclusion: There is no hope for me unless God is the one who brings it to me.

Now the devils don’t want us to hear this new Word from God, so they work very hard to replace His new Word with a different message, a false gospel. This is where false prophets come in. Led by the devils and their own sinful pride, they teach that a happy life, a life that pleases God is possible if we just keep working at it. These false teachers have an assorted array of “easy steps” that we can follow which will ensure happiness and peace with God and our fellow man if we just keep working the plan. They will gladly share their new message with melodious voices and a big smile on their face. They claim to have all kinds of messages that are sure to give your life meaning and make you feel complete! They have a plan for a healthy marriage, a promising career, obedient children, and just about everything else you could ever want, it’s all yours if you will just follow their “easy steps.” The only problem with that teaching is that it never gets rid of the one obstacle that stands in our way… our own sin and our lack of spirit and truth!

I’m afraid that this teaching of techniques only gives us false hope from an eternal perspective. And these steps prophets are new prophets alright, but they are not the ones that Moses prophesied about long ago. These step prophets are false prophets because they bring false hope that always leads to suffering and eternal death. Why? Because their teachings aren’t centered in repentance and forgiveness of sins, but on the ingenuity of other fallen men and women. And if you aren’t careful, these false prophets will have you traveling with them to a new paradise of their own making, in a foreign land, gathered around cyanide-laced Kool Aid. “Drink of it, all of you,” they say, “and you will find a beautiful death” that is until you wake up in hell!”

So how are we to know the true message of God?

Well how did the people of Capernaum know it when they heard Jesus speaking? They knew it because not only was it different than the law centered message that Moses gave, but it came with power and authority. What power? The power to forgive sins and the promise to make everyone who received it right with God! What was the authority? Well, the type of authority that sets the captives free! Free from what?
Well, Jesus answered that when the demon was cast out. Coupled with the greater promise of forgiveness of sins, they knew, and we can know also that in Jesus, God was giving them not just a new message, but the only prophet who can provide complete victory over sin, death, and the devil!

So, while we must still hear what Moses and the Law of God have to say, we must then let the Spirit of God move us from a message of death to a message of life! It’s this new message alone that will be our only source of hope and power in this life and the life to come! This new message is of course the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only message that God’s prophets are to speak unto eternal life. It isn’t a message of steps or strategies, but a message of forgiveness and hope. It is the Words of Jesus and His true prophets.

Listen to some of this hope and let it’s message breath new life into you: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven”” (Luke 10:20) This is a message of certainty that those who hear Jesus Words and believe them are saved from their sins. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “You are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Cor. 6:11] And Peter declares this message to Christians scattered throughout the world: “You were like sheep going astray; but you are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” [1 Pet. 2:25] Likewise, John speaks this Word of hope and peace to the church: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he is.” [1 John 3:2] Nowhere in God’s Word do you find the prophets creating the perception that salvation can be found by following a series of strategies or steps. Instead, the consistent message is that this new prophet that Moses promised would come has come, and He alone makes us right with God through His Work and teaching of forgiveness of sins.

This new teaching, the good news about forgiveness of sins is a simple one. The Kingdom of God is here through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Fully God, yet born of a woman so that we can call Him brother, He was sent by the Father to save you from the evil presence of the devil; He was born to die upon the cross for you. He was born to suffer at the hands of sinful men so that by His stripes, His suffering and death you might be free forever from your fears concerning your own death and the sin that separates you from the love of God; so it’s stripes, not steps that bring you an eternal and abundant life!

What is the abundant and eternal life?

It is freedom from not just your sins and physical death, but also the devil! Jesus has come to set the captives free! By a Word of command He silenced the devil that day in Capernaum, and with that same power, He proclaims that in your baptism, your old sinful nature along with the Devil has been destroyed. Through your baptism, He casts out all things demonic and pronounces you clean.

This morning I proclaim to you that there is one stronger than the devil and your own sinful flesh that is with you this very moment. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living and faithful God, and where He is eternally, you shall one day join Him, because He has washed you clean; forgiven all of your sins. He has given you freedom from your old sinful nature, victory over the devils, and peace and joy with your Heavenly Father. That is who Jesus really is.

The demon in our gospel reading knew who Jesus was and he identified Him immediately as the Holy One of God. The people who saw and heard everything that day stood in amazement. They knew that they had heard and seen things that were new and powerful; they knew they had witnessed the authority and power of God in action.

It is my prayer that you will know these things also, and that you will, like the people in that Capernaum synagogue, leave here and at once spread the good news about who Jesus Christ really is, and what that means for the people in our community. I pray that you will tell them about a holy and perfect God who cannot tolerate sin, but made a way out of it, so that they could be free of not just sin, but also shame, addictions, and death. I pray that you will be enabled by God to declare to your neighbors that Jesus is the only way to God’s forgiving love. Tell them, and then invite them to come to church with you and see for themselves. I ask this in Jesus name, AMEN!

Do You Know Who He Is?

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

4th Sunday in Epiphany B, January 29, 2012
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Mark 1:21-28

Click here for audio of this message

“The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen”. [Deuteronomy 18:15]

Ask ten different people who Jesus is and you’ll most likely get ten different answers.  Some will tell you that He’s their higher power.  Some will say  that He’s their source of peace.  Some will answer, it’s not who He is but who He was as an historical figure that matters.  I think one of the funniest  answers became popular in the early 90’s on bumper stickers: “Jesus is my co-pilot.”  And then several years later, another bumper sticker declared:  “If Jesus is your co-pilot, move over.”  And from that bumper sticker came the ever popular country song, “Jesus Take the Wheel”.

Do you know who He is… do you know who He really is?  He is the one that God raised up, a prophet like Moses from among the Hebrews, and it is to  Him we must listen!  And what’s His message?  Well, it’s a new message with authority and power; a message that’s clear, and concise; a message that  drives out demons with a single Word.

Can you imagine being in that synagogue in Capernaum when Jesus taught his simple message of repentance and forgiveness.  While He was declaring  that the kingdom of God was at hand it broke out right before them in power!  Everyone was astonished at His teaching, because it was new and it had  authority.  It was new because it declared God’s forgiving love for repentant sinners.  And it had authority because it had the power to drive out  demons.  “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit (a demon).  And he cried out, “What have you do to with us, Jesus of Nazareth!  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”  And what did Jesus do?  With authority and power, He commanded the demon to shut up and leave the poor man.  And immediately the demon did exactly as Jesus commanded him!

I wonder how many people there that day knew who Jesus really was?  They should have known, because what they went out and told others, were the very words that were prophesied long ago.  They said that what they heard and witnessed was “a new teaching with authority!”   But prophecy can be a tricky thing.  As the Chinese wise man once said, “It’s very difficult to prophesy, especially about the future!”

In a sense, prophecy is a little like space travel.  We’ve learned a lot about our past and gained insight about the future of our world by going into space and looking down on our earth.  We’ve learned about weather patterns, location of past and present oil and other natural resources, and we’ve even learned a lot about how our climate is changing.  In a sense, we’ve learned things we never could have until we were given the proper perspective.  And in a similar way, prophecy takes us out of the limitations of our current perspective and allows us to take on the big picture.  And that’s what God was doing through Moses when He promised that a new prophet was coming, a prophet that would speak a new Word from God!

Why did the people need a new message?  Well, because they just weren’t getting the old one.  When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses, He was speaking something about His own nature.  He was speaking in Spirit and in truth.  He was teaching them that He alone was holy, perfect, and righteous, and His people must become the same.  How?  By hearing God’s Word in spirit and in truth.  They had to first be honest with God and then themselves; they had to confess that they couldn’t be as God commanded them to be without His divine help.  Soon, God’s sinful people realized this very truth.  In Exodus 19, they cried out to Moses: “Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

And yet God must speak and they must listen, because it’s only through His Word that forgiveness and new life can come to sinful men and women.  But why must God’s Word make us afraid of Him?  Because our fear to force us to see and deal with our own sin.  That is always the primary purpose of God’s law.  But our sinful nature tries to twist the purpose of His law to fit our sinful desires.  So at first we might try to ignore our sins, which the law shows us, or maybe down-play them.  We might incorrectly see the law as a self-help tool and say, “Finally, some teaching I can sink my teeth into.”  But this kind of approach to God’s Word lacks spirit and truth; it stops us from realizing just how perfect God is and how sinful we are!  So God’s law like a great spotlight keeps shinning His truth into our sinful lives until we realize that no matter how hard we try to be good, we will always fall short of the demands of His Law.  After we fail over and over again to be perfectly good, it’s God’s will that we’ll finally arrive at this frightening conclusion: There is no hope for me unless God is the one who brings it to me.

Now the devils don’t want us to hear this new Word from God, so they work very hard to replace His new Word with a different message, a false gospel.  This is where false prophets come in.  Led by the devils and their own sinful pride, they teach that a happy life, a life that pleases God is possible if we just keep working at it.  These false teachers have an assorted array of “easy steps” that we can follow which will ensure happiness and peace with God and our fellow man if we just keep working the plan.  They will gladly share their new message with melodious voices and a big smile on their face.  They claim to have all kinds of messages that are sure to give your life meaning and make you feel complete!  They have a plan for a healthy marriage, a promising career, obedient children, and just about everything else you could ever want, it’s all yours if you will just follow their “easy steps.”  The only problem with that teaching is that it never gets rid of the one obstacle that stands in our way… our own sin and our lack of spirit and truth!

I’m afraid that this teaching of techniques only gives us false hope from an eternal perspective.  And these steps prophets are new prophets alright, but they are not the ones that Moses prophesied about long ago.  These step prophets are false prophets because they bring false hope that always leads to suffering and eternal death.  Why?  Because their teachings aren’t centered in repentance and forgiveness of sins, but on the ingenuity of other fallen men and women.  And if you aren’t careful, these false prophets will have you traveling with them to a new paradise of their own making, in a foreign land, gathered around cyanide-laced Kool Aid.  “Drink of it, all of you,” they say, “and you will find a beautiful death” that is until you wake up in hell!”

So how are we to know the true message of God?  Well how did the people of Capernaum know it when they heard Jesus speaking?  They knew it because not only was it different than the law centered message that Moses gave, but it came with power and authority.  What power?  The power to forgive sins and the promise to make everyone who received it right with God!  What was the authority?  Well, the type of authority that sets the captives free!  Free from what?  Well, Jesus answered that when the demon was cast out.  Coupled with the greater promise of forgiveness of sins, they knew, and we can know also that in Jesus, God was giving them not just a new message, but the only prophet who can provide complete victory over sin, death, and the devil!

So, while we must still hear what Moses and the Law of God have to say, we must then let the Spirit of God move us from a message of death to a message of life!  It’s this new message alone that will be our only source of hope and power in this life and the life to come!  This new message is of course the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the only message that God’s prophets are to speak unto eternal life.  It isn’t a message of steps or strategies, but a message of forgiveness and hope.  It is the Words of Jesus and His true prophets.

Listen to some of this hope and let it’s message breath new life into you: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven”” (Luke 10:20)  This is a message of certainty that those who hear Jesus Words and believe them are saved from their sins. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “You are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Cor. 6:11]  And Peter declares this message to Christians scattered throughout the world: “You were like sheep going astray; but you are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” [1 Pet. 2:25]   Likewise, John speaks this Word of hope and peace to the church: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he is.” [1 John 3:2] Nowhere in God’s Word do you find the prophets creating the perception that salvation can be found by following a series of strategies or steps.  Instead, the consistent message is that this new prophet that Moses promised would come has come, and He alone makes us right with God through His Work and teaching of forgiveness of sins.

This new teaching, the good news about forgiveness of sins is a simple one.  The Kingdom of God is here through the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Fully God, yet born of a woman so that we can call Him brother, He was sent by the Father to save you from the evil presence of the devil; He was born to die upon the cross for you.  He was born to suffer at the hands of sinful men so that by His stripes, His suffering and death you might be free forever from your fears concerning your own sin that separates you from the love of God; so it’s stripes, not steps that bring you an eternal and abundant life!

What is the abundant and eternal life?  It is freedom from not just your sins, but also death and the devil!  Jesus has come to set the captives free!  By a Word of command He silenced the devil that day in Capernaum, and with that same power, He proclaims that in your baptism, your old sinful nature along with the Devil has been destroyed.  Through your baptism, He casts out all things demonic and pronounces you clean.

This morning I proclaim to you that there is one stronger than the devil and your own sinful flesh that is with you this very moment.  His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living and faithful God, and where He is you shall one day join Him, because He has washed you clean; forgiven all of your sins.  He has given you freedom from your old sinful nature, victory over the devils, and peace and joy with your Heavenly Father.  That is who Jesus really is.

The demon in our gospel reading knew who Jesus was and he identified Him immediately as the Holy One of God.  The people who saw and heard everything that day stood in amazement.  They knew that they had heard and seen things that were new and powerful; they knew they had witnessed the authority and power of God in action.

It is my prayer that you will know these things also, and that you will, like the people in that Capernaum synagogue, leave here and at once spread the good news about who Jesus Christ really is, and what that means for the people in our community.  I pray that you will tell them about a holy and perfect God who cannot tolerate sin, but made a way out of it, so that they could be free of not just sin, but also shame, addictions, and death.  I pray that you will be enabled by God to declare to your neighbors that Jesus is the only way to God’s forgiving love.  Tell them, and then invite them to come to church with you and see for themselves.  I ask this in Jesus name, AMEN!

The Battle Belongs To The Lord!

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

The Battle Belongs To The Lord!
Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Click here for audio of this message

INTRO: This morning-this very second you and I are engaged in a battle-a battle with sin and the devil.  This battle has been ragging since the fall of some of God’s angels.  Scripture says very little about the fall of the angels other than they are awaiting their punishment (Jude 6). We know that there is a chief devil formerly known as Lucifer, now known as Satan.  We know that when he revolted against God, he took many other angels with him, because scripture says that there are many devils (Mark 5:9). “From the beginning” of man’s relationship with God the creator, the devil has been intent on taking away the life that God had given the human creature, that is, he wants to destroy our relationship with God (John 8:44). All devils recognize that they are engaged in a war to the death with God (Mark 1:23-24), but God is God and He has already won the battle. He has condemned all of the devils to “eternal chains under gloomy darkness” (Jude 6); that place of “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Even though they are already defeated, they are intent on continuing their attack on God by practicing their limited but formidable power (Eph. 6:11-12; Acts 26:18). And how do they attack God?  By attacking His most prized creation…you and me!  The devil’s aim is to make you forget about God’s love and power and to trick you into thinking that you have been abandoned by God.  They want to attempt to destroy the power of God’s Word in your lives; they want to destroy the trust that forms the human side of the relationship between God and you. They do this by undermining your confidence in the truth of God’s Word.

I. In our gospel reading this morning, we join Jesus at a worship service.  Imagine that you are sitting in a church in Galilee, and in walks a teacher and some of His followers.  Now you’re used to hearing guest preachers, so this wouldn’t be anything new, but all of that hum-drum changes when Jesus begins to speak.  You know how your mind begins to wander after the first few minutes of listening to something?  Well not with this teacher; you are glued to every word He is speaking.  In fact, you find yourself dumbfounded-mesmerized by the very Words that are coming out of His mouth.   He wasn’t teaching like the other rabbis; He wasn’t talking about rules and laws; He wasn’t even quoting the traditional teachings of other famous teachers; no this Man was speaking with authority and His teaching was clear and easy to understand.  It was if God were speaking to His people directly through the mouth of this new teacher. Everyone at worship that morning was struck by His Words as if by a powerful blow, and as long as Jesus kept speaking, every eye and every ear was fixed on him; they didn’t want to miss a single Word. But when His teaching had ended and the voice that held them spellbound became silent, the tension was relaxed, and then amazement swept over the listeners-something special had just happened in that little church.  Jesus teaching was not like anything they had ever heard.  Normally, the rabbis, priests, and Pharisees who usually taught were concerned with little things like the proper use of mint and cumin, or the length of a man’s fringes on his garment, and the proper washing of cups, and platters.  But Jesus talked about life and how to live it in abundantly.  He talked about eternal things and God’s love for man and His hatred of evil.

II. Dear friends, God’s Word has always been with us, even from the beginning of creation (Gen. 3:6), but through Jesus presence it comes to us new and with authority over sin, death, and the devil.  Scripture doesn’t say exactly what Jesus taught that day, but whatever it was, it came out with the power of God.  It cut into the hearts and minds of everyone listening like a sharp double edged sword.  It pierced their ears and their soul.  And here is a truth that we must learn: Jesus Word is always delivered and received with authority because it is the very Word-the very mouth of God speaking to His people, a people He so desperately wants to be in relationship with, and that includes you!  His Word is meant to destroy the power of sin and the strongholds of evil that hound you and take the joy out of your life.  He wants to free you from the control and direction of the devil and have you walk with Him in peace.  Does this sound like something you want as well?
ILLUS: There was an old man that lived in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. One summer, one of the old man’s grandsons spent his school vacation with him. The Grandson said, “PAPIE, I read the Bible and I don’t understand it, and what I understand I forget as soon as I close the Bible covers. What’s the use of reading the Bible!” Without directly answering the question, the Grandfather told the grandson to get the dirty, sooty basket he used to carry the heating coal and run down to the river and bring back a basket of water to the house. To please his grandfather, the boy grabbed the basket, ran to the river and got a basket of water. The boy ran back to the house with the water, but by the time he had reached the house the basket was empty. The grandfather simply looked at the young boy, and told him to hurry-up and bring another basket of water. The boy ran quickly from the river this time hoping to at least bring a little water, but once again, by the time he arrived at the house the basket of water was dry. After his third trip, the boy told his granddad, “It’s no use PAPIE, the water just spills out by the time I get here. It is useless.” The grandfather looked at the disgusted young boy, and said, “So you think it’s useless?” “Yes! Papie, it’s useless to try!” the boy replied. The Grandfather said to the boy, “Son, look at the basket.  Can’t you see something’s happened?” The boy was amazed, after three trips to the river; the dirty coal basket was clean-it looked new! The grandfather said, “See that’s what the Word of God does to you. As you read, you say you don’t retain and understand it, but your heart’s being cleaned. THE WORD OF GOD DOES THE WORK OF GOD!”
Friends, since we believe that the Son of God came to destroy sin, death, and every devil, and since we understand that there is true power in the Word of God, then we can understand the hatred that comes directly at us from the kingdom of darkness.  We understand that the devil hates God and us because…

III. God’s Word has power over the devils and over our own sinful flesh and desires.  Starting in verse 23 of our gospel we see this idea come alive.  After Jesus was through teaching, and while astonishment still held the people, “all at once,” a demon possessed man burst into the synagogue.  “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.”   Can you imagine the shock of those worshiping that day.  They had just heard this great teaching-this message from God-their minds and hearts were still trying to sort out what just happened and in bursts this poor demon possessed man, screaming at the very man that just changed their whole way of looking at the world and their life with God.  The people must have been thinking, “Why did this demon possessed man rush into our solemn assembly and violate both the sacred time and place and why is He so focused on this teacher?  

Yes friends, why indeed!  We can all agree that logically, the demon should have done everything in its power to drive the man he possessed away from Jesus in order to keep his hold on him. So why didn’t the demon do this?  Because the power of God, the very presence of Jesus compelled Him to come and receive that which every demon knows is their future…DEFEAT!

“(And) Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.” (vs. 25-26) Dear friends, the miracle of defeating the demon and freeing the man possessed, is a graphic example of how the power of Christ has saved us from sin.  It shows us that this power to free and to save doesn’t lie in the person who was saved, but instead it lies wholly in the authority of Jesus Word. Can you see that this person who was freed was so far gone that no one could expect faith from him, yet the freeing Word of Jesus, the gospel of peace with God, brought faith all by itself and through its own work. Do you understand friends that the Word of God is a seed that makes its own soil! It’s a spark that carries its own fuel to create a fire, and it’s a Word that can create new life and hope where there is only death and hopelessness.  Yes friends, the miracle here is the power of Christ’s Word alone to save from sin, and it doesn’t depend on the person being saved. This is the miracle of your baptism when God’s Word along with the water freed you from the power of sin, and the fear of death and the devil.  It is God’s Word that opens your ears and heart to hear these Words, “Do you renounce the devil and all of His ways?”  And it is that very same Word that moves you to answer, “Yes I do renounce them!”  Friends, your salvation lies wholly in Jesus himself. When Jesus speaks, His Word accomplishes its intent: “And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 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.” (vs. 26-27)

CONCLUSION: Friends, since we believe that the Son of God came to destroy the works of the Devil, we can understand why we are always under the attack of the kingdom of darkness; and if we will but look at Jesus as True God, who lives within us through His Word and Holy sacraments, then we can also understand how the Prince of Darkness might, in a counterfeit way, might try to do something similar by trying to possess or harass a person in order to cause injury and destruction, and separate that person from Christ and His healing and saving presence.  But through His Word, Jesus has snatched you from this fear and freed you from the grip of sin, death and the devil.  Live this truth-be bold in life-follow Jesus-and work for the advancement of His kingdom: “And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” (vs. 28)

Dear friends, this is our simple mandate-to spread Jesus fame, His love for all men-His Holy gospel, where ever we go.  We do this as individuals and we do this together as His church when we live our lives under His power which comes through His Word and then when we share that Word with who ever will hear. 

May the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and of the Spirit and has forgiven you all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to life + everlasting.  In Jesus name…AMEN!