Sermon / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Season of Epiphany / Sunday January 28th 2018 - / Mark 1:21-28 / "Only God's Words (Authority)"
Text: Mark 1:21-28
Theme: Only God’s Word (Authority)
Intr - When we go online and log in to social networking websites, like Facebook or Instagram for example, one of the main things we get are tons of cards and banners bringing us virtual wit and wisdom for our lives. It goes from advice on health, to spirit, to sadness, to purpose...and so on. Some samples of it:
_Nothing is wrong when it makes you happy;
_Whether you will succeed or you will fail, it is all in that word “you";
_Attitude determines how the inner battle is won;
_All that matters in life is how you see yourself;
_honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom;
Sometimes we find good phrases; sometimes just common sense. And many times, plain wrong statements. The fact is though that when the real world seems unbearable, and we feel lost, we may hang onto any type of compass we find. We may also want any type of escape.
In the past, options of escape included procrastination, sports, alcohol, or simply doing nothing. In the last 20 years though, our “doing nothing” has this addition - doing nothing online. We go online to weblinks an webplaces trying to get some relief, or just to escape real life.
The problem with this post-modern option is that it often blurres the line between right and wrong. We start to read phrases, texts, advices that start to sink in and become truth in our hearts and minds, leading us to say, “I read it somewhere on the internet” which gives us that momentary feeling of comfort and assuredness that we just found something reliable to hold on to. And it doesn’t need to be online, on the internet. We can find it in multiple forms in different places.
Yes, real life is as unbearable as it can be sometimes, and it has been like this for centuries. In Palestine, 2,000 years ago it was no different. And as if the daily problems and struggles were not enough, the people of God were entangled in an almost unbearable religion and religious practice as well. A whole section of traditions and practices were running which weighed on people, and smashed them - perhaps not onto the ground but against the rage of a Yahweh that was always prone and eager to punish the servants who weren’t close to perfection. Outwardly at least. Legalistic traditionalism run amok back in the day.
As we become aware of this scenario, we start to get a better grasp of what it meant to that religiously anxious people to hear a Master like Jesus. He comes to the synagoge in Capernaum and not only attends Church – setting a good example for us – but also stands up and teaches His Jewish compatriots. What does St. Mark tell us then? “And they were astonished at His teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (v.22). Jesus taught the people, and He used only God’s Word.
Think for a moment. You are attending a Church where everytime you come you are just going through the motions. Most of what you hear is the severe, vitriolic and relentless preaching of law. Also, a bit of common sense and teachings of masters of old added to the Scripture. You learn that you are a bad servant, that you should behave better, that you are not as close to perfect as you should be. You have been falling short of the hundreds of precepts and laws you must obey in order to please God. Lots of religiosity, not so much of religion – religare, Latin for “reconnection” with God.
Try now to figure out how would you feel and how would you react if a guy like that carpenter from Nazareth would come to town with His teaching. A teaching clearly and powerfully different from the religious leaders of the time. A teaching that was not just more of the same, like we scroll our screens down over dozens of “clever” phrases and/or legalistic impositions clothed as advice for life. Jesus was different from the scribes:
_In the teaching – not void traditions, but compassion and love.
_In the manner – St. Mark stresses this feature. I think we can figure it out well how a person more interested in passing traditions down would teach, as opposed to someone teaching spiritual doctrines with compassion and love.
_In authority – He was speaking from and for Himself. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. So we cannot discard here even a “Supernatural” effect of His words over His listeners which the scribes wouldn’t possess.
He used only God’s Words. He was not speaking for others, not only passing down letters and words. He was speaking from an intrinsic and self-evident authority. Because He was speaking only God’s Word.
We know from the Bible now what Jesus’ content and teaching was. It is way beyond any social network wisdom can teach us. Let’s use the Lectionary for today to draw some of His content.
Deuteronomy 18 – Yahweh tells the people of God that a new prophet would come. Jesus. The interesting thing here is that even though He spoke only the Word of God, Jesus died anyways.
Psalm 111 – Before going back to Heaven, Jesus explained to his disciples what was written about Him in Moses, in the Prophets, and in the book of Psalms – confirming thus that the OT is God’s Word. Let’s listen to Psalm 111.  Listen to it and connect to Jesus in the synagoge: “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; He sent redemption to his people.”
1 Corinthians 8 - and from the epistle we learn that acting by faith as God’s children through Christ we will love our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest, showing them the teaching and healing of Christ for their life.
Jesus taught: _Grace / _Forgiveness /_Salvation / Care /True Religion – “religare” – reconnection with Him by faith.
As we listen to the teaching of the Scriptures it becomes clearer and clearer why Jesus left them marvelled, astonished beyond words. The content of His teaching. The authority of His Words. And especially, the way He taught them.
Jesus heals the man who was possessed by a demon. Even so, people were chiefly amazed by his teaching, and then his exorcism. Sometimes we look for miracles. Even though Jesus did them, the power and authority were on His teaching. And still are. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see “Miracles” happening in your life. Through the Word, through the sacrament, His power and authority are still there. Salvation is there. As are also Consolation and strength. Remember: Jesus keeps healing you from the devil, from sin and the devil’s works. He cares about you. Through repentance and faith you are daily, weekly healed from sin, and brought to His presence covered in Christ’s righteousness.
Still, as we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes we want to run away and hide in supposedly “safe places” when we are hurt and sad. The danger comes when we take any advice from any place. We need to withstand the storm, and face hard times with Only God’s Words, like Jesus did. That’s where we get our authority, strength and wisdom from. Then we will not fall prey of common sense and wrong wisdom like:
_”Nothing is wrong when it makes you happy”. Wrong. Nothing is wrong if is not...wrong. We can easily be happy doing things that are not right. Happiness comes from holding fast to God’s principles in His Word.
_”Whether you will succeed or you will fail, it is all in that word “you””. Partially true. Failure is in us for sure. But, to be saved and succeed comes only from God. He is the one who really makes us taste what real success and accomplishment in life looks like – in Jesus.
_”Attitude determines how the inner battle is won”; Partially true. Attitude can only help you if you are in the right path. Otherwise, you will only do faster what will ultimately hurt you. Jesus is the Way, God’s Word is the source of our faith, our strength, and our attitude.
_”All that matters in life is how you see yourself”; Wrong. All that matters is how God sees us. As sinners, we can never see our real value in full. God’s Word only brings it. From there we can see ourselves in the correct perspective – children of God by faith.
_”honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”; Wrong. As we learn from Psalm 111: Trusting and fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Cc - Only God’s Word. Here is where we find Christ’s authority, teaching and wisdom. Here is where we have the fount of our every blessing and strength. Only God’s Word is where we get wisdom for your own life, and also to share with people in our social interactions, networks and relationships. Whether in the virtual world or in real life. Amen.
 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that He shall speak in my name, I Myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or[f] who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.
 He was killed by the people who wouldn’t listen to the voice of the prophet. Either from the ones who came before Jesus or, especially, the Messiah preaching and teaching.
 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!
 In that specific situation, concerning food consecrated to idols – which ultimately don’t even exist. There is only One God.
 Speaking of authority to teach, from last Sunday’s Sermon: “As St. Mark writes, Jesus announced that “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand”. In a time when every so often kings would break into entire regions conquering cities and freeing people who were captive, Jesus broke into Palestine to start His way of freeing people. Not with mighty armies or powerful weapons, but with the might and authority of His preaching and teaching. Because they had ears, and eyes, and hearts captive to Satan; they needed to be rescued from sin and death by the Truth that sets us free.”