Sunday, December 11, 2005

Matt's Messages - With Authority

“With Authority”
December 11, 2005
Mark 1:14-45

Just last week, we began working our way together through the Gospel of Mark. Last week, in just 13 short verses, we were introduced to Jesus by John Mark the Evangelist, Isaiah the Prophet, John the Baptizer, and God the Father! Mark says that this is: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

We saw that Jesus is the culmination of history.
Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy.
Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit.
And Jesus is God’s beloved and well-pleasing Son.

And Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God.

We’ve been “introduced to Jesus.”

Now, this week, we are given a fuller picture of Who Jesus is by what Jesus does.

The Gospel of Mark, more than any other gospel, shows us Who Jesus is by what Jesus does.

And, how He does it.

And the major thing that I want to point out today is that what Jesus does, He does “With Authority.”

A major theme in the Gospel of Mark (that we are going to see again and again and again) is the authority of Jesus. The unique authority of Jesus.

And it appears right here in the first chapter.

Let’s pray, and then we’ll begin in verse 14.

Last week, we ended with verses 14 and 15.

“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news [the gospel] of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news [the gospel]!’”

Jesus takes off where John left off: repentance. Turning from sin and turning to God.

And He adds a distinctive message. “The kingdom of God is near.”

The King Himself has arrived, and He is bringing His gracious reign with Him.

We just sang, “The Birthday of a King.”

Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ announcement: “The kingdom of God is near.”

And the King has come with authority.

And the first thing that Mark records that this unique King does is to choose some followers.

#1. Jesus came with authority TO CALL HIS FOLLOWERS. V.16

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ [Deliberate play on words!] At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

Notice the authority of Jesus to call His followers.

The Gospels of Luke and John tell us that these four men (Simon, Andrew, James, and John) already had some history with Jesus.

But Mark doesn’t! Notice how Mark emphasizes their immediate response to His call to follower-ship (discipleship).

‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” At once!

They drop their nets and began following Jesus.

This is remarkable. Notice, Jesus isn’t calling them to follow God’s law or to follow God in some vague sense. He is calling them to follow Him. This is a call to personal followership/discipleship of Jesus Himself.

And it means sacrifice. They are leaving their jobs. They are leaving their nets. We would call them “their safety nets” (deliberate play on words). James and John leave their father and the lucrative fishing trade that was the staple of the Mediterranean world.

They have no pre-service training. They have never been apostles before.

But they have been hooked by Jesus (deliberate play on words).

And they leave their nets and follow Him.

That’s authority.

When Jesus calls us to followership (to discipleship), we need to leave our nets behind and follow Him. No turning back. No turning back.

And when we follow Him like that, He turns us into fishers of men. He then uses us to gather people to Himself.

With authority, He uses us to call out more followers of Him.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

And they did!

Have you answered the call to discipleship?

Have you left your “nets” (so to speak) whatever they may be and followed Him? No turning back, no turning back?

Jesus is going somewhere. Are you following Him?

#2. Jesus came with authority TO TEACH HIS MESSAGE. V.21

“They went to Capernaum [which is a town on the sea of Galilee], and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority [there’s our word], not as the teachers of the law.”

The synagogue was not a temple. It was more like a school. And the ruler of the synagogue was kind of like a librarian and somebody to keep the peace. The teaching in a synagogue was done by lay people who had demonstrated some ability to handle God’s Word (the Old Testament).

And often, if someone was visiting from out of town, they were asked to bring the lesson. [How would you like to be the visitor at church and asked to bring the message?]

Jesus sat down there (they sat down to teach) and began to teach. But this was like no teaching the people of Capernaum had ever heard before.

It had authority.

Jesus Himself had authority.

The teachers of the law, the scribes, taught with a kind of derived authority. As well they should. Just as I have no authority in and of myself as I stand here and preach; the authority of this message is to be derived from the text of holy Scripture.

But when Jesus taught, He taught as One Who had authority in and of Himself.

He was on the same level as Holy Scripture. And it was astonishing to His class!

Does Jesus’ teaching have that kind of authority in your life?

What Jesus says is what goes? What Jesus says is what it is?

Now, these people didn’t know what to do with it. They were amazed, and we don’t know if they believed it and followed it. But we know that we should.

Jesus has come with authority to teach HIS message. His!

And we need to believe it.

You know, being biblical, is not a popular thing nowadays. If you say that Jesus is the only way to God or that God punishes rebels in Hell or any number of things that the Bible teaches, you are labeled a narrow-minded bigot at best and a fundamentalist danger to society at worst.

But whatever the world says, we need to believe what Jesus says. Because He is our authority.

#3. Jesus came with authority TO COMMAND THE DEMONS. V.23

We’re still in the synagogue.

“Just then a man in their 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!’ [Ready for some authority? V.25] ‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 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.’ News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”

What is a man with a demon doing in a synagogue?

But there he is, challenging Jesus.

The demons knows that he is in the presence of the true King.

And Jesus dispatches him with a simple command. What that must have been like!

And the people knew what they were seeing–authority. V.27 again.

“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.’”

What is this? Who is this?

This is the Jesus that we worship in wonder and awe.

There is spiritual battle being fought behind the scenes where we cannot see.

But it is an battle that is decisively tilted in one direction.

Our King has authority to command even the demons.

Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Praise God!

Of course, that is big news. And big news spreads fast. Maybe too fast.

That same day, after synagogue, they head to Simon and Andrew’s home which seems to be in Capernaum. V.29

“As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. [It’s probably lunch time. But, v.30] Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

We find out here that Simon has a wife. Well, at least he has a mother-in-law! And she wasn’t getting the meal together; she was incapacitated.

She had a raging fever. Probably life threatening and probably had come over her while the men were at synagogue. They tell Jesus about her and (watch the tenderness here), “He went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and [I love this!] she began to wait on them.”

Jesus came with authority (#4) TO HEAL THE SICK.

Jesus is the Great Physician. He has authority to heal.

Peter’s mother-in-law (I like to think of her as named Linda (after my mother-in-law)), felt so good that she got right up and fixed a meal to thank Jesus.

Jesus came with authority to heal the sick. And they started bringing him the sick! V.32 “That evening after sunset [on the Sabbath] the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door [I’ve never noticed this passage until this week. The whole town is at Jesus’ door looking for help], and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

You don’t want a demon doing your evangelism for you. It doesn’t quite build the right kind of confidence in the gospel.

Jesus came with authority to heal. And He used it.

He has that same authority today. That’s why we pray in His name for healing for people who are sick. He doesn’t always choose to give it because of the Father’s best plan for all of His children. But He has compassion on us in our weakness, and often uses our prayers to make the sick well.

He has authority to heal. And when He does heal, we (like Peter’s mother-in-law) should use our new found health to serve Him and His people.

Are you using your health to serve Jesus and His people?

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this passage before. It seems like it was a late-night healing session. The whole town.

And you’d think that Jesus would sleep in after something like that. He’d have every right to. But instead, He gets up before everyone else. V.35.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [We get a glimpse of where this authority comes from: His relationship, His unity, with God. But He gets interrupted. V.36] Simon and his companions went to look for him [literally: hunt for him], and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ [To do some more miracles, healings, exorcisms, I think.] Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else– to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ [Not miracles so much as messages. The miracles are to go with the messages.] So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

#5 (and last). Jesus came with authority TO CLEANSE THE UNCLEAN.

One more story. Verse 40.

“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’”

Leprosy was a word that describes a whole host of awful skin diseases. The Old Testament laid out in detail what a leper could and could not do. They were outcasts in society. They had to wear distinctive clothes so that people wouldn’t come near them. And yell, “Unclean, unclean!” wherever they went so that people wouldn’t touch them and be ritually defiled.

And it was believed that only God could heal leprosy.

So, when this man fell to his knees before Jesus, he was risking a lot and believing a lot.

He was risking a lot because he came near to Jesus, threatening Jesus’ ritual cleanliness.

And he was believing a lot because he believed that Jesus had authority to cleanse him.

“If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

V.41. “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man [!]. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ [Instead of Jesus being defiled, the man was cleansed.] Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

Jesus has authority to cleanse the unclean.

“Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’”

Do what the Law says and don’t broadcast this. It will hamper My ability to accomplish my mission. But the man disobeys. V.45

“Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”

Interestingly, Jesus switched places with the leper (James Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, pgs 68-72).

The leper could now enter into society, but Jesus was pushed to the outskirts.

Jesus took His place.

Which is a picture, in a way, of the Gospel itself.

Leprosy, in scripture, is a picture of sin and its disastrous effects.

Not everyone who had leprosy had it because of sin, but it was always a picture of the ugliness of sin and its disastrous effects.

It made a person unclean.

But Jesus didn’t leave us in our leprous condition.

He came and touched us.

He took on sin for us at the Cross.

Jesus took our place.

And because of His death and resurrection, He has the authority to cleanse the unclean. You and me.

Have you been cleansed?

Jesus Christ offers to cleanse you, not just from the picture of sin which is leprous, but from sin itself by the blood of His Cross.

I invite you to put your trust in the One Who has the authority to make you clean.