Recognize, Respond, and Repeat
Jesus just asked four men to follow him. He had Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew with him. He also had with him John and James also brothers. These four were fisherman. The first place they follow Jesus was a synagogue meeting in Capernaum.
While they were in Capernaum, the Sabbath came and Jesus went to the synagogue (gathering) and began to teach. It is interesting to me that Jesus went to the synagogue first to teach. Some say well that’s not all that odd that he would go to a religious meeting and in one way I completely agree. In another way Jesus tells people that he came for the lost house of Israel. So is Jesus’ first act representative of that? If so, what does that mean for us today? He came to save religious people from religious legalism, themselves, and for his glory. He did not come to give them something to live by (laws) but someone to live for.
What a liberating way of looking at the freedom we are offered in Christ. What a condemning ways to look at faith as an institution and the religious legalism that goes along with it. If you have an institution you have rules. If you have faith you have someone to follow.
The equivalent today would be like saying “Jesus has come to save Christians before he can deal with the others.” Professing Christ without embodying Christ wrecks the gospel and does not offer true assurance. Instead it offers a convenient faith we can live with and little hope for ourselves and the world. A deep, abiding faith is one that comes from following Christ and it provides hope for each day, hope for tomorrow, hope for eternity, and has hope to offer the world.
The power of the gospel is more than just empty words, but it is the Word made flesh and living out God’s plan, God’s punishment, God’s love, God’s grace & mercy, and in doing so demonstrates true authority. God’s authority.
So Jesus’ first place to go with his four new disciples is to a religious meeting where he is teaching. Scripture records that “the people were amazed at his teaching.” I don’t recall it every being said that the people were “amazed” at the teaching of even the greatest Pharisees. What make Jesus’ teaching different? “He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” The teachers of the law claimed a false authority as guardians of the law, but Jesus had or was the embodiment of authority. He wasn’t talking about it, he was it. He was the ultimate authority as the Son of God in the flesh.
This issue of authority is important because false authority may be honored or respected because it does have some power or control of our earthly lives. True authority on the other hand is not forced on us as it is recognized by us. Recognizing true authority can give confidence, comfort, and excitement. If you have a bad illness you would want medical advice from the leading authorities in that field. It would give you confidence that the diagnosis is accurate, comfort that the treatment will be successful, and excited that life will be better on the other side. If things go well you would be quick to tell others about this great doctor who was an authority in his or her field and would easily recommend them to others. What about the authority for our lives and our eternity?
Do you recognize his authority? When we recognize his true authority everything else pales and fades away. King Nebuchadnezzar thought he had authority over Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king tells them to bow and worship his image of gold, and says if you don’t I will throw you into the fire of this furnace, “then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” The king had a false sense of authority and a lifeless representation of himself in the gold statue. Whereas God is the true authority and His exact representative living in flesh and blood in the life of His Son Jesus Christ. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:4
“O Nebuchadnezzer, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want to you to know, O king, that we will not serve our gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Essential, we recognize a higher, true authority. Our appeal and worship is above your head, your pay grade, our your power upon my life. We choose the Lord. The Word incarnation literally means embodiment, Christ is the embodiment of the Word of God, power of God, the love of God, the mercy of God, the authority of God, in short…God. This was in contrast to the teachers of the law, who had the words of the law, but had not embodied them, and had no authority of their own.
Just then there was a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “what do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God? Jesus was not a pawn he is the main player.
A few thoughts, sometimes there are evil spirits in the church. We may not want to consider this but there are spirits within the church that both recognize Jesus and his authority over all. It is a threat to their existence and they work against Christ and work to destroy him. Today these spirits can be more subversive but are still embodied by people and their names are such as pride, jealousy, envy, covetous, and self-serving. These things are in opposition to what the embodiment of Christ looks like. Jesus did come to destroy those things that we might be set free from their bondage.
With the authority in him Jesus silences the spirit, and commands the spirit to leave the man. Who has this kind of authority? God certainly has the power and so does Satan. This would be the way others would attempt to discredit Jesus by saying that he was also an evil spirit, demon, or Satan himself. Interestingly, scripture tells us that it is Satan masquerade as an angel of light. Why, because he has no real authority Jesus never masquerades as anything. He is the Son of God Jesus later reminds them if I cast our demons by the power of Satan then he would be a house divided against itself and would be self-destructive and fail. Equally disturbing is how the spirits I mentioned above seem to align themselves against Christ and His work, which puts them in the same business as Satan himself.
The people where so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:27-28
First, the people recognized Jesus was different when in contrast to the teachers of the law. Not just by what he taught but by the authority with which he embodied those very teachings. They came from who he was.
Second, the people responded with amazement and wonder as they saw Jesus demonstrate that power in the silencing and sending out of the evil spirit. It is that same authority that Jesus calls people to “come, follow me” and later sends out his people into the world.
Lastly, the response was that people were talking about him. News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Who was spreading the news? Presumably, the people who were there were sharing, but was everyone there pleased with Jesus? What seems to travel faster good news or bad news? The news of Jesus spread through the whole region.
What about you? What is your highest authority? Your government? Your family? Yourself? Your demanding schedule? Or does Jesus have full authority and power in your life? His teachings are radical, powerful, and full of authority. Do you recognize that authority?
Will you respond to the authority of Christ with amazement, wonder, and faithfulness? Will you embody the life and teachings of Christ?
If yes is the answer to these questions the word concerning Christ should spread throughout the region. We should be repeating and replicating the teaching and power of Christ in the world today. That is what it is to be a Christian, a “Christ-bearer.” We bear and embody Christ to the world today.
If you struggle to respond to these questions I invite you, not to sing but rather to pray about it. The altar is open if you need to come down having recognizing his authority. If you have a decision you need to share with me as your pastor or this church I will be here to receive you.
May you recognize his authority, in recognizing respond, and repeat with our words that find authority as we embody his spirit in our daily walk. Amen.