The One Who: Does

The One Who  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:09
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Let us pray…Gracious and Loving God, as we come before you this day, our hearts are full of love for you and the life of your Son, our minds are full of the things that we need to do yet today and in this coming week, and our eyes cannot escape all that flashes before them as we scan the TV, computer, phone, and internet. In these coming moments, God, we ask that you would join our hearts, minds, eyes, ears, and especially our spirits to yours so that we can be open to your still speaking spirit in our own day and time. Amen.

Some Interesting Thoughts...

One of the first things that strikes me about our story from the Gospel of Mark this morning is that Mark tells us that Jesus was teaching in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. For most of us that might not seem so strange but what is most peculiar to me is that, no matter how many times I read it, Mark does not tell us what Jesus was teaching that day. Listen to it again...
Mark 1:21–22 NLT
Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
Now the question I have is this…if Jesus was teaching and his teaching is important to us even today, why on Earth is it that Mark does not tell us what he was teaching that day? Now, I know we can go to the other Gospels and hear stories of Jesus reading from the scrolls but nowhere, at least to this point in my life, have I ever found anything related to the teaching he did that day.
While this is remarkable, the more remarkable thing to note is that Mark mentions very little about what Jesus taught or even said in the synagogues, ever…think about that for a moment. Mark does not record Jesus’ words of teaching in the church of his day, in any of the 16 chapters we call his Gospel. This tells us a lot about what Mark saw as the most important part of Jesus’ ministry…and I believe that was what Jesus did for others rather than what he said. I just seems to me, the more I read Mark’s Gospel, that he seems to desire that people who read and heard his words would come to know and trust Jesus’ actions outside of the church instead of throwing around speeches and rhetoric which can be changed and misinterpreted. Don’t get me wrong, Mark retells Jesus’ teachings but not what he said inside the Synagogues. And really that makes sense because Jesus’ teaching was not about the church building but rather about what needed to be done for them, outside the religious constructs of his day and our day for that matter. It was more about reaching people where they were. So, for this morning, I want us to focus our hearts and minds on what I think is an overarching theme for Mark…it was more important to tell people about what Jesus did rather than what he said.
One other thing before we start digesting this passage further, I want to give us this word of caution this morning…I do not want us to get all caught up in what ailment the man in our story has because many have tried to explain it away and many have tried to figure out what might have really caused the man to stand in Jesus’ face that day. The reality is that none of us were eyewitnesses to the event and many scholars believe that even Mark was not an eyewitness but rather he was reporting the story as he had heard it told to him. With that word of caution, let’s take a look again at what Mark reports happening that day in the Synagogue...
Mark 1:23–24 NLT
Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Read parts of passage…again, not getting caught up in what we believe might have been afflicting this man, we need to focus on what he is saying. There are two things I want to reflect on this morning...

Afflicted and In Need...

First, the man is sitting in the Synagogue…think about that…the man is a religious individual. He is honoring the Sabbath and attending to his spiritual health by going to “church”. Now, how many of us have ever been so distracted while we are sitting here on our Sabbath that when we walk out of church, we cannot remember one word of the service? I imagine many of us have had this experience.
Here’s the thing…no matter what is happening in this man’s life, he is sitting in church. Now, this gives me a lot of hope…not just because I think many of you tune out during my sermons…but because, no matter what might be happening in our lives, Jesus attends to us wherever we are. Jesus hears our hearts. I mean, how else could he have known that this man needed healing? Yes, this man stands up and challenges Christ verbally, but he could have been having a bad day. He could have been agitated by what Christ said, yet Jesus cares for him in the moment. He meets him where he is.
And then, in the very next breath, Mark reports that Jesus says...
Mark 1:25 CEB
“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!”
Jesus knows without any reservation that this man is suffering. No matter what it was, Jesus demands that this man be healed. Here’s what I am hearing a result of Jesus’ teaching, he did something to prove he had the authority to teach and speak in the way he did. I mean, Mark reports that the people who were there were amazed by his teaching. Yet, it was this man who stood up and recognized and not only recognized but announced who Jesus truly was before Jesus healed him.
Let’s go back for a moment to the end of that piece about the man who stands in Jesus’ face that day and hear what he said again...
Mark 1:24 NLT
“Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
After the afflicted man recognizes that Jesus is there to do something important, he acknowledges who Jesus truly is. He says, “I know...”. Here is someone, like many that we have been talking about over the last few weeks, who may not have known who Jesus truly was. He may not have even known that Jesus came to save the world from its sins. This man may not even known with any amount of certainty that the Messiah had come or that he had begun moving around the area teaching. And yet, he blurts out that Jesus is the Holy One of God! And Jesus had not yet done anything spectacular...
Digest that for a moment and I mean really think about it…maybe it will help to hear what I am saying if we think about it this way…according to Mark’s Gospel, we are still in the first chapter. We have not gotten far removed from Jesus’ baptism. Jesus has just called the four fishermen of that area to join him. And that’s it....period. Jesus has not called the other 8 men to join him. According to Mark, he has not healed anyone and this is our introduction to what Jesus spends the last two or three years of his life doing…healing and meeting people where they are in their lives.

What is Truly Important...

Again, to me, this speaks a lot about what was important to Mark and what he felt his readers needed to hear and read. It also seems to me that what Jesus did was far more important than anything else. Now, I can hear your minds cranking over this right now…just understand that the ultimate thing that Jesus did was die on the cross. However, Mark reports just about as many people being healed by Jesus while he was alive as the other Gospels report. It just seems to me at this point in my study of Mark’s Gospel that Mark puts more emphasis on what Jesus did while he was here than on his teachings.
I think I have beat that up enough…let’s get back to the piece that I started on a few moments ago…the man in the Synagogue claims Jesus as the Holy One of God. As I said, this man may not have known much about Jesus but he stands there in a Synagogue and claims Jesus to be the Son of God. It’s not the scribe(s) that claim(s) Jesus as the Son of God, it is the average, ordinary man. And it is this man that calls him out. Imagine that…Jesus came for all and he came for those who were on the outside of “normal” society.
If you think about all the amazing things that Jesus did, it was not for those who were the religious elite…it typically wasn’t even for anyone who could go into a Synagogue. Jesus did for those who could not be considered part of “normal” society.

A Challenge for Today...

So, what does that tell us about what we should be doing even today? Does that mean we only do for those who deserve it in our minds? Does this teach us anything about who truly should be reached? I mean, honestly, it is hard for me to say no to those who truly need but this story challenges me to think about who it is that we truly should be trying to reach even in our own society of today. Now, don’t get me wrong here…those we love and trust and know are deserving of whatever we can do but I think that Jesus’ life and this story in particular, instructs us about those who deserve it more. Jesus did and so should we…Amen.
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