Spread the News of Jesus - Pastor John Roekle
January 28, 2018 [Epiphany 4] Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “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!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all 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.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Spread the News of Jesus
Dear Friends in Christ,
We are right in the middle of time of year when it isn’t unusual to have several kids missing from school on any given day, especially in the younger grades. Kids like to share things, and unfortunately germs are one of those things.
That is the concept behind a phrase that has developed in our digital age. The phrase: “Go viral.” When a picture or a video or a link is shared and shared by a multitude of people. You may recall the popular ‘Charlie bit me and it really hurt’ video or the one with the young boy whose dad taped him after having dental surgery and who said and did a bunch of goofy things as he was still affected by the anesthesia. Why do those things become so popular? Because people are quick to spread word about them. Hey did you see this? Check this out!
On one day at church in the city of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, the things that Jesus said and did were so amazing that they went viral. Mark’s Gospel says: “News about him [Jesus] spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” Now this wasn’t a small feat when you think about it. There were no cell phones or even landline phones. There were no computers and nothing known as the internet. There was no television or radio. There weren’t even cameras. News spread strictly by word of mouth. One person talking to another in person.
And what Jesus did that day was something that people quickly shared with others. News about Jesus, his words and his works was soon known by everyone in that region. Now you and I do have the advantage of having various forms of communication. Even if we aren’t able to see a person face to face to talk to that person, we can communicate in a multitude of other ways, and very quickly at that. Let’s keep that in mind as we look once again at what Jesus says and Jesus does here. May we also be truly amazed. And in turn, may we take every opportunity to quickly spread the news of Jesus.
In Jesus’ day, church was held on Saturdays, the Sabbath. And it was customary to meet at the church which was held in what was called a synagogue. There a service was conducted which was highlighted by a speaker who would teach based on the Scripture lesson of the day. Often times, Jesus was asked to be the speaker. On this particular day, he was in the synagogue of Capernaum. Capernaum has been known as the city of Jesus, because it is here that Jesus lived and used as his home base after moving from his childhood city of Nazareth.
Note the reaction of the people as Jesus began to teach: “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.”
Jesus clearly set himself apart from the other teachers of the law who taught in the synagogue. The teachers of the law would go on and on about the traditions of the elders. They would quote other rabbis. They were so wrapped up in relaying man-made teachings that the message God wanted to be proclaimed was lost in their words.
Jesus was like a breath of fresh air. You know what it is like to be in a stuffy house and then to walk outside and breath in the fresh air outside. It’s revitalizing. Jesus’ teaching breathed new life in his listeners. They were hearing things differently from Jesus. Of course, that’s because every word he spoke was God’s Word. His words are spirit and they are life.
And there was an aspect of Jesus’ teaching that was also different from the others. It was clearly authoritative. Why was Jesus able to speak with authority? Because he is, as John says, the Word made flesh. His words have authority because of who he is. He is the Son of God. He knows the entire will of God from eternity. He was in on all that God had planned in working out our salvation for us. He knew all the promises of the Old Testament, because he was involved in making all those promises. And he knew exactly how they would be fulfilled, and how many of them would be fulfilled through him.
There is no teacher like Jesus. His words are authoritative and give life. Why wouldn’t we want to spread the news of Jesus! To direct people to the Bible, through which the Spirit can do his work. Think about the fresh message you can bring to a person who is trapped in sin of some sort. Your sins are forgiven.
Listen to what Jesus says! Only the Word of Christ has the ability to bring people to faith. Use it!
So what prevents you from speaking to others about Jesus? Maybe sometimes it’s your confidence. How will I know what to say? What if they ask me something I can’t answer? When these questions come up, you might really want to ask yourself, how much time am I spending in God’s Word? Think about your routine. Maybe you’re one who reads the paper daily from front to back. Perhaps you’re one who has bookmarked all your favorite websites to check day to day. Maybe you’re one who makes sure that you use your favorite apps every day. Now ask yourself, how much attention do you give to God’s Word in comparison to those things? The Word is so available to you, either in the Bible you hold in your hand or an any digital device you can think of. Don’t forget the power that it contains. In it is the power of God for salvation for everyone…including you. As you take time to read your Bible each day, the Holy Spirit is equipping you with the ability to spread the news of Jesus.
And when you speak his marvelous word to others, tell them of Jesus’ wonderful works.
What Jesus said on that Sabbath in Capernaum, and the fact that he spoke with such authority was enough for the news of Jesus to go viral. But there was even more that happened there which showed everyone in attendance just how special Jesus was.
In the synagogue, Jesus encountered a man who was possessed by an evil spirit. It isn’t that it doesn’t or can’t occur today, but demon possession seemed to be much more common in Jesus’ day. And it often affected people in different ways. A demon literally took over their bodies causing physical ailments, or having superhuman strength. The object was certainly to harm – both the person possessed and those they encountered.
Now, when the demon possessed man heard Jesus teaching in the synagogue, he 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!” The one thing all demons have is that they recognize God when they are in his presence. Being in Jesus’ presence, he knew this was God. And he knew what God’s intention is, to destroy the power of demons by destroying the power of the Evil One, Satan himself.
And Jesus showed his authority and supremacy over Satan by commanding this demon to be quiet and then to come out of the man. And the demon came out.
Jesus had just won a victory over Satan a short time earlier when the Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus successfully warded off those temptations, defeating Satan. Following this incident, Jesus would continue to have encounters with Satan or his demons. And Jesus would be victorious in every case.
This was all partly in fulfillment of God’s promise of what Jesus would do to Satan in Genesis: “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Satan and his demons worked hard to kill Jesus. They thought by doing that, they would end Jesus’ work of defeating them. Satan thought he had achieved that very purpose when Jesus was nailed to the cross at Calvary. Satan couldn’t have been more mistaken. In dying, Christ defeated Satan. His resurrection proved it. Satan couldn’t keep Jesus in the grave. That was impossible. But the Father of lies convinced himself to believe his own lies. And Jesus set him straight by declaring victory in his visit to hell following his resurrection.
There is so much evil in the world. The latest evil that seems to be in the news every day is that of sexual abuse in various forms. Whether it is a Hollywood producer, a politician, an athlete, or even a member of the family, the news is often very disheartening.
Think then, of the healing that the news of Jesus can do for people. It can assure people that Christ has come to defeat all evil. He has defeated sin and the devil’s power. For those guilty of sins of abuse, the Lord has the power to bring them to account and then to share with them the message of forgiveness.
Just think about what the effect the works of Jesus can have on someone who has been abused and who wonders if there really is a god. You can share with them that Jesus received worse abuse than anyone could possibly comprehend. The worst abuse he suffered was the torture that our sins caused him. And he was in it all alone…even God the Father separated himself from Jesus. And he did it so that you and I and everyone who believes the message would never have to suffer that kind of abuse.
You know how news can spread. Today it spreads almost instantly. People across the globe can hear the news at virtually the same moment. Let’s use that to our advantage. Let’s spread the news of Jesus – his marvelous word and his wonderful works. You gladly share news about your family, or your favorite recipe, or discuss the latest national news. But there is no news more importance than the news of Jesus. Let it go viral! Amen.