Epiphany 4 B 2021
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Talking about the devil is not a popular topic of conversation. In fact, talking about the devil is not even common in sermons anymore. Why? Because people want to hear about good things, and people want to hear about pleasant things. People would rather hear about Jesus blessing children or Jesus calming the sea rather than about the devil or his demons.
In the 21st century, people do not want to hear that we are powerless against the work of the devil in our world and the seductive power the devil has in our lives. But thankfully, we have not been left to face the devil and all his empty promises by ourselves, and we do not have to fret talking about the devil because God Himself has provided “The Way” to overcome the consequences of the evil one in our lives.
And that is the “Good News” that the Gospel of Mark provides for us in his gospel that we will study this year as we journey through the lectionary.
For the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the Son of God whose ministry was characterized by a series of mighty works that demonstrated God’s power and presence in our world.
And this morning we have been given an example of one of these mighty acts when we heard Mark’s familiar account of “The Man with an Unclean Spirit.”
In our text today, we were told that after Jesus had called His first disciples, Jesus and His disciples went to Capernaum on the Sabbath and Jesus instructed the crowd in a wonderful new way.
And we were told that Jesus taught as one having authority, and as one who knew God (as opposed to the scribes) and the crowd was astounded at His teaching.
But Jesus did not just speak with authority, He acted with authority too. In the text today we are told that as Jesus taught the crowd, suddenly, a man with an unclean spirit 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.”
Jesus, after coming face to face with an associate of the devil, rebuked the evil spirit and demanded that the unclean spirit leave the innocent man alone. “And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.”
And all the people were amazed, and they kept asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
And at once His fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee for the power and authority was unlike anything that they had ever witnesses before.
And the “Good News” is that the power and authority that Jesus embodied that day in the Synagogue is alive and active today in our world. And that we too have been given visual signs of the power and authority that Jesus has over the work of the evil one in our world today.
Did you know that the ancient Service of Holy Baptism that Luther translated from Latin included a section in which the pastor met the baptismal party at the door of the church and commanded the devil to leave the baptismal candidate alone?
Why??? Because for Luther this was not mere superstition, but a clear confession by him of the presence and influence of the devil in our lives and the power of God to use Holy Baptism and all its promises to rescue us.
We now know, of course, that it is because of God’s act in defeating the evil one on the Cross that we can renounce all the forces of evil, the devil, and all his empty promises and that Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil is applied to us through our faith and trust in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore, we do not have to be afraid to talk about the devil or be afraid of the consequences of the evil one in our lives. And we can confess our sins knowing that because God is faithful and just that He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
For the One who has the power and the authority to silence the unclean spirits and remove the influence that they have in our lives and restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father is none other than “The Holy One of God” Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: Almighty God, you sent Jesus to proclaim your kingdom and to teach with authority. Anoint us with your Holy Spirit, that we too may bring Good news to the poor, comfort to the broken hearted, and liberty to the captive; so that all may find hope and peace in you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.