Observe the Power of Jesus

4th Sunday after the Epiphany

Sermon by Vicar Jacob Hoff

Observe the Power of Jesus

1. In his works
2. In his words

Text: Mark 1:21-28

The flashing red and blue lights in my rearview mirror sent my heart into my throat. As I pulled over to the side of the highway my mind started racing, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I checked my speed… shouldn’t be an issue there, I was right around the speed limit. I hadn’t had anything to drink, but perhaps I was getting tired and swerved a little without noticing.

The officer stood a little behind the window shining a flashlight on my face. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No sir I don’t.”

“Your driver side head light is out. License and registration please.”

After the officer had looked up my info he made his way back to my window and said, “Please step out of the vehicle…” What followed was a rather routine fact checking mission by this kind officer. You see the car I was driving was registered to a Laura Backus, and my name was Jacob Hoff. The car had a Wisconsin plate and I was driving south on an Arkansas highway.

After questioning me on whose car I was driving and where I was going he left me standing in front of his headlights to, I assume, question my then fiancé with the same set of questions to see if our stories added up.

When he returned he told me to replace the headlight, drive safe, and have a good trip.

There are certain situations in life when the gentle yet firm request of “identification please” is appropriate. In this world of cheats, scam artists, and thieves it would be foolish to simply trust every person we meet. Requiring that an individual in whom we are about to place our trust show some identification is a necessary thing because failure to do so can sometimes be devastating.

That officer wanted to make sure I had not stolen the car so he checked my story. The teachers at this school want to make sure that a stranger does not pick up one of the children so identification is required. When the stakes are high, when something terrible could happen if we place our trust in the wrong person it is good to get some assurance that our trust is well founded.

Humans in this sinful world need encouragement that trust is well founded, we all have been cheated before. The God who created us, the God who knows how many hairs are on our heads, knows that sometimes identification is a helpful thing. In his incomparable wisdom God gave certain criteria that his Messiah would have to meet so that we could know him when we see him. In his love for us God gave us certain watermarks that we can hold up to the light in order to check the veracity of the one in whom we put our trust.

Today I ask you to observe the power of Jesus. In his powerful deeds and words we get a glimpse of Jesus’ identification card. It is an answer to the all important question that weighs on our hearts and minds: how do we know that the baby, whose birth we celebrated a month ago is the one in whom we should place our trust?

It all started in the beginning. Adam and Eve had just destroyed the perfect relationship that once existed between the creator and his creation. On that day our loving God promised that he would give his creation a way out. He promised that one of Eve’s offspring would crush the devils head. Over thousands of years our God revealed to us the blueprint for the Savior of the world. God set up a very specific set of criteria that would enable humans to hold any person claiming Messiahship up to the light of scripture to see if the signs added up, to see if trust was rightly placed.

Today in the powerful works and words of Jesus we see just one of the many watermarks that identify Jesus as officially “from God.” Through Isaiah God had made clear that his Anointed One would, “Preach good news to the poor… bind up the brokenhearted… proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.”…

“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!” was the demonic response that resonated from the possessed man’s mouth.

With a simple command the Messiah released another prisoner from darkness. With a few words Jesus began the vengeance that belonged to God for Satan’s trickery in Eden. No elaborate ceremony was needed; by the authoritative words from the mouth of the Anointed One an exorcism took place…

My question for you then is this: Has the power of Jesus over everything, even the devil, been prominent in your mind as of late? Read the Gospels and you will walk away with an amazing list of the powerful deeds of Jesus. There is no doubt that Jesus did some incredible things while on this earth, but do you see and appreciate the amazing deeds Jesus is performing on a daily basis for you?

If Jesus can cast out a demon with a word why do we doubt his control over our lives?

If Jesus can feed thousands of people with a few fish and rolls, why is it so hard to not worry, and trust that God will give us our daily bread?

If Jesus can bring a dead man back to life, why do we so often allow stress to fill our minds and lives when Joseph has a heart attack or Johnny has pneumonia again?

I’m not saying that we should expect God to get rid of all our problems. He may not give us a money tree to plant in the back yard; he may not stop death from knocking on our doors; but he does plan and promise to do what is best for us. He is capable of doing anything he wants. So what right do we have to doubt Jesus’ powerful command over our lives?

Observe the powerful deeds of Jesus in the Bible: he cast out demons, he healed the sick, he gave sight to the blind… observe the most powerful deed of Jesus: when Jesus willingly became our scapegoat. On him rested all our sins, on him rested the punishment we deserve for our doubt of God’s plan for us. Through his abandonment we are welcomed into the Father’s arms. Observe the power of our Jesus when he rose from the dead proclaiming “come to me all you who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Powerful deeds combined with powerful words, these are the watermarks of our Messiah. There is just something different about how this Jesus speaks, those who heard him while he lived on this earthy were very aware of it, “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law… they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’”

Jesus words have a special kind of authority to them. I don’t know exactly what he said to those early Jews in that synagogue in Capernaum, but I imagine he spoke similarly to them as he did to others in his ministry, as he does to us in the Bible. Jesus, being true God, is able to read our hearts and minds. He knows what we need to hear, and he knows how to say it so we understand and apply it to ourselves.

By his words Jesus amazed that early audience. By his words Jesus cast out the demon. Just as Jesus’ words had the power to convict and condemn the evil spirit possessing that man, his words have the power and the right to convict my heart and yours.

Jesus’ powerful words have called us to forgive as he has forgiven us, why is it so hard to forgive even the small slights that we experience? The driver who cuts you off, that acquaintance that says a small hurtful comment in passing, that coworker who has that little habit that goes against one of your pet-peeves…

Jesus words have taught us to love one another as he has loved us. I don’t know about you, but when I get home after a long day I love to take care of me, myself, and I. I fail my family and my God in laziness that I blame on a hard or long day. All this I do knowing my Savior’s command that I love my wife as he loves the church… his love never pulled the “long hard work day” card.

Jesus words have every right and they certainly have the power to condemn me. He made short work of that demon, and my deeds have given him more than enough reason to send me along with that evil spirit to hell.

Observe the power of Jesus’ words; power not only to condemn, but also power to heal. By his word a demon left a body, a crippled man walked, a leprous man was healed, a dead man came to life. Observe the most powerful words of Jesus spoken every Sunday by his called workers all around the world, “I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Observe the healing power of the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Observe the medicinal power of the words “Take and eat, this is my body, given for you for the forgiveness of sins. Take and drink, this is by blood of the new covenant which was poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Observe the restorative power of the words of the Bible that create and sustain faith that clings to the promises of God; promises from the mouth of Jesus; promises with power.

Powerful words and powerful deeds are displayed by our Messiah Jesus. Over thousands of years God promised that these would be proofs of the authenticity of the Christ. In the history of the New Testament we observe our Savior display his heavenly power, proving his authority.

Jesus’ powerful words and deeds convict our hearts when they need convicting. Jesus’ powerful words and deeds heal our hearts once they have been broken. Jesus’ powerful words and deeds give us hope for the future and the ability and zeal to daily strive to praise him for all he has done for us. Those who heard and saw the powerful words and deeds of Jesus when he walked on this earth realized their importance. They carefully recorded what Jesus said and did. God preserved their firsthand accounts so that thousands of years later we too can see the power of Jesus’ deeds and words. This power changes hearts and lives. This power proves that Jesus is who he said he was; the Messiah, our Savior.

Amen

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About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on January 29, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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