January 28 – 3rd Sun after Epiphany
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Mark 1: 14 – 28
Grace and peace to you as you grow in your understanding of God, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Gospel of Mark begins with this, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mk 1:1) The Evangelist Mark wants us to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word of God make into the flesh and blood of mankind and that the actions and events that he’s going to tell us about are just the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is this Gospel account is the continuation of all that Jesus has and will do in this world for us by His life, death and resurrection. There is going to be more and it will be found in the Apostles and all those who are disciples of Jesus Christ even today. Yes, we to have been found by Jesus and called to be fishers of men just like the disciples of Jesus time. So, what’s your response?
The Evangelist Mark goes on to tells us that Jesus proclaimed that, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk. 1:15) Jesus came into this world to fulfill all that God had promised and the Kingdom of God is ready for each of us to be a part of, so repent of your sins and believe in the Good News of all that Jesus Christ has done for you so that you can be a part of God’s kingdom now and for eternity as fishers of men.
Now to be fishers of men we first have to be caught. To be caught you have to hear God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit go to work in your life through God’s Word to bring you to faith. Caught in faith by the nets of God’s Word so that we wouldn’t drown in our sins, that’s how faith began in our lives. In Mark’s account of Jesus’ work in this world we don’t hear about how Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John heard the Words of God spoken by Jesus but we see them being called and caught as disciple of Jesus so that they can learn how to become fishers of men. The Apostle Paul tells us, ‘But how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!”’ (Rom. 10:14-15) How good are you at throwing out the net of God’s Word and bring in the drowning souls of this world? I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some more instruction on how to throw out the nets of God’s Word so that it brings in some drowning souls each time that I cast it.
Jesus came into this world to make sure that His Word was hear and preached to the ends of the earth. So, after calling some of His disciples He goes to where people are expecting to hear God’s Word, in the synagogue. Now God through the period of the Old Testament set up the Sabbath day in the synagogues to be a place where Rabbis could come in and start talking to the people about the Word of God. That’s what Jesus came to do in the synagogue in Capernaum, proclaiming God’s Word to the people, but Jesus didn’t talk about God’s Word in the way that most of the Scribes and Rabbis did of that time. Mark tells us, “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mk 1:22)
Jesus’ Words were heard because He taught as one with authority, which is what God was talking to Moses and us about in our Old Testament reading for today. The Lord tells Moses and all the people of Israel, that’s us, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My words that He shall speak in My name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deu. 18:18 – 19)
Where God’s Word is being spoken in all its truth and purity there will be an evil spirit ready to snatch it away from you. That’s what happens in Jesus’ time and that’s what is happening in our time. Oh, we might not have someone in our midst who has let the evil spirits of this world take over his life, but they’re out there ready to take God’s Word out of our hearts and minds as soon as it is spoken. And they will do their best to turn the Word of God upside down. Listen to how they do that as Mark records, “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he 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.” (Mk 1: 23 – 24)
Jesus didn’t come into this world to destroy us but to save us. Oh, the Words of God show us our sins so that we know for certain our need for a Savior. Jesus came to show us God’s love instead of the destruction of this world. The evil spirits of this world know God because they are the enemy of God and would tell us all sorts of lies to get us away from being disciples of God so that we can follow them to destruction. Jesus didn’t destroy the man but saved him from the evil spirit that he had allowed to take over his life. Jesus’ love for us is shown in His righteousness given to us as He goes to the cross to pay for all our sins and take us away from the evil of this world. “Have you come to destroy us?” the evil one asks. Jesus destroyed the evil of this world by dying on the Cross of Calvary for us and rising again on the third day so that we can live in the love, peace and righteousness of God now and forever.
God’s Word has the power to silence the evil of this world, but it has to be spoken. The Savior silenced the evil spirit’s witness of Him so that others might not heard the testimony of the devil that leads to unbelief, but instead the truth of God’s Word. The devil was puffed up in his knowledge, but Jesus, in love works to build us up in God’s Word and love.
The Evangelist Mark tells us, ‘And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”’ (Mk 1:27) Oh, the Words of God aren’t new teachings for they created the world for us in perfect love. It is by God’s Word that we come to know the love of God that builds us up. The people were amazed that God’s Word could silence the evil spirit in the man and not destroy him, but make him well again. The first half of the hymn that we just sang, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” reminds us of the work of the devil in our lives and how our lives are like a living hell without God’s love for us. Martin Luther, the writer of this hymn, tells us in verses 4 & 5 what God is going to do about the evil of this world as he says, ‘But God had seen my wretched state before the world’s foundation, and mindful of His mercies great, He planned for my salvation. He turned to me a father’s heart; He did not choose the easy part but gave His dearest treasure. God said to His beloved son; “It’s time to have compassion. Then go, bright jewel of My crown, and bring to all salvation. From sin and sorrow set them free; slay bitter death for them that they may live with You forever.”’
So why does Jesus do miracles in His life here in this world with us? So that we might see Him truly as the Holy One of God, as He lives the perfect human life for us. To show the authority of the new teaching, which shows the greatness of God’s love for us. So that we might believe His Words and come to believe and answer the call to be fishers of men by proclaiming our faith in Him to others. As we proclaim what God’s has done in our lives to bring us to believe in the Love of God we become the continuation of Jesus’ work in this world.
The Epiphany of our Lord didn’t end when Jesus died. The message of His words and actions continues today through each of us. His miracles continue today as people are convicted of sin and called to the righteousness given to us by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. His miracles continue today as diseases of both mind and body are confronted and cast out (healed). His miracles continue today as His great goodness and the authority of God’s Word amaze people of faith. As the miracles continue and as we continue to hold them up for others to see, we hear the message from the Gospel of Mark and become a part of the ongoing continuation of the work of Jesus so that others can say with us, “Jesus, I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” and may the Holy Spirit enable each of us to believe and become fishers of men with us. Amen.