Said It- Did It

Rev. Petie McLean
February 1, 2015

Mark 1:21-28   
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and 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.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! Hea]">[a] commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.      

     

I remember Sister Erma very well; she was one of the first people who taught me something about authority.  It was grade school, I was small and easily intimidated.   She was tall, thin , covered in long black robes, and she was powerful.  She had the Authority of the school, the authority of the church,and a personal authority that seemed undeniable.  

She commanded a room, her word was the last word, and quite frankly I was afraid of her. 

Her authority was perceived, personal, given by others, and taken seriously by herself.  I believed what she said when she said it.  I knew she believed what she said and that she had the power to put into action any of her words.  She was, if nothing else,  a consistent woman.

It was interesting when this woman of authority met my mother, who had equal authority—perhaps coming from a different source and used in a very different manner. 

I was the one in trouble, Sister had authority in my school life and mother had authority over my life. My mother perceived Sister Erma’s authority to be less than appropriate and Momma took on one of the most powerful women I had known to that point in my life.  My mother's authority came from a total trust of her daughter and a belief that regardless of what that daughter was accused, she would champion her.  In retrospect, I learned a great deal about authority the day those two clashed. 

Authority can be a funny thing.   Sometimes a job implies a kind of  authority, the office holds power.

Sometimes a particular person seems to be an authority, they know a great deal. 

The most powerful kind of authority comes from someone whose message, job and knowledge are strong , powerful , positive, and lead to healing.  This kind of authority matches words with action.  And brings about  change.

 I hope you  all know people who emit the  kind of authority that is powerful and real and not just the result of a title given because of a job. When we see it we know it, it is  real,  and it can help us to learn a new thing and think a new way, change who we are, even heal us. Most of us are searching for that kind of authority for our lives.

Perhaps that is exactly the way the people who came to synagogue  on the day that Jesus came to town felt.  He did not teach the way they were used to being taught.  They were used to the scribes whose whole job it was to  read the Law, the Torah, and interpret it.  They gave the rules for every part of life for every detail, for all the minutia.  Folks who came to synagogue that day didn't expect anymore then one more teaching about the rules.

Then, then on this day there appears this man whose teaching is shown by his actions.  What he says, is what he does.

He has authority, not  imposed, not  assumed, but a complete depth of the soul, consistant kind of authority.

His authority came from God who said this is my Son.

His authority came from a Struggle in the wilderness - he chose what he would do and how he would do it…..and he committed himself to that.

His authority came from the people he was beginning to gather around him.

His authority came because he was what he said - his actions were the same as his words...

His authority was so real and so believable; that even those who came filled with all that was evil knew him and knew that this teacher could make a difference.

Did you notice in the scripture read this morning that Mark tells us that Jesus taught but, he never tells us what he taught.  He did not recount the sermon or the teaching.   He does not give us a list of things we are to do or not do.

 Mark does, however, recount for us the action based upon the sermon - Mark tells us that when Jesus was finished a man with an unclean spirit speaks -

I know who you are. You are the Son of God.  What do you want with us?

Whatever Jesus taught, his authority was so evident, it caused evil to stand up and take notice.  While the people around him were not sure who he was, all that was evil knew exactly who he was, he was the one who would and could drive out that which made life broken.   

Jesus had the authority and the willingness and ability to use it;

he had the authority and the right to use it.  

He had the authority and he would use it.

That fact was so clear that even evil knew it.

What we learn about Jesus today is that he had come to do battle with whatever seeks to do evil to humankind.  He calls for that evil to leave.

We may however, discount this story because it involves demon possession , and truthfully seemed a bit far fetched.  We know the ancient world put everything they did not understand into the realm of demon possession ---- illness, both mental and physical, unusual behavior, anything that was not understood was labeled demon possession.

We live in a different time  – we understand mental illness, physical illness, and plain old strange behaviors as having a source , a source that can often be treated.  We give the authority for that treatment to doctors, professionals, sometimes even ministers.

The truth of the matter is we all search at one time or another for one who will have the authority to heal us….to drive out our personal demons and the demons which haunt our world.

Fear, doubt, resentment, anger, greed, hatred, food, alcohol, drugs, over crowded schedules, confusion, prejudice, sadness,  poverty, hunger, indecision, blindness, conceit, intolerance, terrorism, unkindness, and impatience --- have I meddled enough? 

There is not one of us if we are honest, that can  say we are not without an evil of some kind.  We know who that man in the synagogue was that day - it is ourselves, it is our world.

Does this authority still hold power, can this authority of Jesus , this good news heal us?

The scripture says  that as the evil left the man, there was great convulsing and falling to the ground.

Naming and claiming an evil in our lives or in the world has a cost, it is not easy, and even when handled by one who is holy, it can still hurt.  Most of the time, we are just not willing to go through the hurt and the pain of letting go of our evil.  It may be easier to ignore the authority of one who calls us into a new life.

There is a cartoon of a lady sitting on a table in the doctor's office.  She is tired, pale, drawn, and obviously sick.  She is talking to the doctor.

"What can I do to feel better without giving up the things that are making me feel bad?"

We want our demons to be gone, we want the demons and evil of the world to be gone, but most of the time we are not willing to go through the pain of letting it go.

Jesus comes to us as one with authority, enough authority to confront our demons, enough authority for our demons to confront him.  Jesus comes to us and has the power to both help us recognize and then go through the pain and process of letting go and starting again.  Jesus is the victor, he confronts evil and sends it packing. Our authority comes if we really believe that.

But Jesus is not the only victor.  The true winner in this story is the man whose life is opened up to new possibilities and new promises.  This one who came to synagogue that day goes home with his life.  To follow Jesus is to recognize his authority and to allow it to have its way in our lives, to believe the promise that he is stronger than any evil that enters our life or our world.  When we believe that, then we too will share in that authority.  Our lives will take on a new consistency, a consistency of word and deed……and that consistent life will bring wholeness to another, and another, and another. 

We too are given authority by a God who says to us ….You are my child.

We too are given authority by a struggle with the word that helps us to claim our witness and make it more than a Sunday experience, rather making it a life journey.

We too, are healed by Jesus authority and we take on his work as ours.

And when we do, the world is able to see the authority of the one who sends us forth.

 

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