Epiphany 0419 – “Life Under Jesus’ Authority!” Luke 4:31-44

Epiphany 0419 – “Life Under Jesus’ Authority!” Luke 4:31-44
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
The text for our sermon meditation is the Gospel account of St Luke, the 4th Chapter.

31And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34“Ha! 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.” 35But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

So far the reading.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we are not without authority. We are surrounded on all sides by authority. It seems that almost everyone wants to exercise their authority whether they have it or not. We try to sneak in to grasp authority by presenting ourselves as unrecognized minorities. We try to sneak in by undermining the authority of those who are placed over us. Like Israel in the time of the Judges everybody wants to go their own way.

It was not so long ago that if a child found trouble at school they were disciplined by the teacher or principal and a note was sent home to the parents. When dad read the note from the teacher the discipline continued at home. Today such is not the case. Teachers are not seen as authority figures. Some parents do not believe their child can do wrong. When a note of bad conduct is sent home the parent seeks to discipline the teacher rather than their child. Moreover, in some cases the teacher is held accountable for the failure of the students to achieve an education.

By whose authority are you doing this? Why do I have to listen to you? Who died and left you king? Make me! I dare you! All these comments we have spoken or thought at one time or another. We too try to exert authority and control when we think we are out of control.

Such questioning is not only for life in this world. We see that the unseen spirit realm also is subject to asking such questions. Jesus is ministering to and healing those who have illness and weakness of the body. The words of Jesus are spoken with authority and are recognized as having authority by those who listen. Moreover, Jesus reveals his power over the demons who have possessed certain unfortunate people. With the touch of his hand and the word of his mouth Jesus commands the demons to leave and be silent.

As Jesus taught the people His words were spoken in a manner unfamiliar to the people. The teachers of the Law perhaps only touched the surface of the Word of God and did not dig deeper to reveal the fullness of God’s Word. Jesus on the other hand does dig deeper and opens the Word of God to show depth of meaning and breadth of hope given by God. If we read the account of Jesus teaching in Matthew 5-7 we begin to understand the depth of Jesus authority and teaching.

Jesus sat before the crowds gathered around him and spoke with the authority of God himself. Throughout that discourse, In Matthew’s Gospel account, Jesus many times spoke these words, “You have heard it said to people of old …, but I say to you ….” In no uncertain terms Jesus equates himself with God in his teaching. When Jesus says, “But I say to you …” he is telling the people God is now among you in this human body. The voice you hear is the voice of God. Once you heard God speak from Mt Sinai. Now you hear Him speak to you upon the hillside, along the streets and in your synagogue.

In Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus now tells those who are gathering about him that God is among them in the same way. He is teaching with authority never before heard. He is doing miraculous works of healing and restoration never before seen. Jesus continues to proclaim the words of Isaiah being fulfilled in the eyes and ears of God’s people in a voice never before heard. At least by human ears.

We notice that there are some who recognize the voice of God. These ones are intimately familiar with the authority and power in which God speaks. They at one time were holy and perfect beings created by God to be His servants in heaven and servants of those created in God’s image on earth. Yet some time after the seventh day of creation these beings followed the path of rebellion and oppression. They followed their master, Satan, who led them to become violators of God’s created order and purpose. It is why Luke calls them spirits of unclean demons.

Soap will not cleanse their hearts and minds. They need what they cannot give, that is repentance. They cannot repent because they will not repent. These demons are eternally judged by God and cannot return to their original state of holiness and obedience to God. Only judgment awaits these demons. For this reason when Jesus comes to those whom the demons seek to destroy, the demons cry out seeking to confirm their condemnation and the nearness of the time of judgment. “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

What of you or me? Soap will not cleanse us of the guilt and stain of sin. Yet, we who are not yet eternally set in our condition of life after death have hope of a different outcome. Jesus by the power and authority of God is the holy One who makes that which is unholy once again holy before God. This work takes the power and authority of God, for the sinful will of man is a strong enemy of God. As St Paul reminds in his Epistle to the Romans: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Like the demon who calls out to Jesus we say to God, “Ha! Who are you?” The interjection “Ha” is spoken in derision against God. God is interrupting our lives and seeking to change them in opposition to the way we want to live. We show displeasure when we are confronted with the error of our ways. We seek to justify, to blame, to explain away our sinful actions. We do not want to repent and live a life in conformity to God’s holy will. We want to live under our own and by our own power.

Consider what we know of God’s will. We learn the Ten Commandments in catechism study. These words of God declare the righteous actions God desires from His people. Yet, we soon let the awe of God’s authority and command for our life trickle away. We are not as motivated to ensure setting time aside for worship and the study of God’s word. If we do set such time aside are we punctual, thoughtful and prepared to give God our attention, voice and honor? Are we generous with the blessings given us by God? Are we eager to devote proper attention and time in service to the One who sought us and brought us out the darkness of sin into His marvelous light of salvation?

Here are statistics which reveal the reason why the Church struggles with knowing God’s will. 65% of congregation members believe right or wrong is determined by the situation. 62% of congregation members do not attend Bible Study. Approximately 71% of members believe doctrine is determined by human reason, philosophy or science. It is little wonder we are departing from the path of life as a nation and as people of God. The Word of God does not dwell in us as richly as God would have it to be.

We need our Lord to come and cast out our unbelief and those things which demonize faith in His sacrifice for sin. Our Lord would silence those voices which would seek to undermine faith and lead others astray. To this end Jesus commands the demons to be silent. They do not speak in faith but in mockery of the Son of God. Their words do not come from a heart redeemed, but from a heart in rebellion. Jesus does not need the demons to proclaim His majesty and glory. Jesus’ teaching and miracles are sufficient to create faith and declare the kingdom of God is at hand.

Where is the authority of God revealed today? Such authority is heard where the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word is carried out. Such authority is seen where the Sacraments of Jesus are rightly and properly administered. We do not see anything happening with our eyes. Yet, the Word of Truth is applied to our lives and we are relieved of the deceptions of Satan. Moreover, our eyes are directed to the Cross of Jesus Christ and His empty tomb. There is where the true power and authority of God is revealed to the sinful world.

Jesus foretold this in His rebuking of demons, sickness, sin and death. Everything that keeps us in bondage to our fallen nature is put under the hand of God. When Jesus speaks those words of rebuke, He is freeing mankind and all of creation from that sin-filled bondage. Such freeing is worked in our time when we apply the water of Baptism to those who are in bondage to sin and unbelief. The Lord comes to us and calls us to faith in His sacrifice for sin and takes us in His protecting hands that “… Satan may not harm us, nor, we to sin give place.”

God continues to work in us through His word that we not only live in obedience and faith, but also to proclaim faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. There are many people in this world who still reject God’s authority and need to hear the word we trust and follow. They are infants with regard to truth and the authority of God’s Word. Left to their own reason and unbelief they have no security and certainty for their lives. They avoid those things which they cannot understand or are related to the matters of faith. They recoil in anger at God when life causes them pain or suffering. They question the belief that there is life after life on this earth. Our Lord placed in our hands the very power of God to bring peace comfort and healing to the lives of all people. We are called by God to speak of the hope that is within us. Simply to apply the power and authority of God’s voice and Word to the lives of those who are in need of what Jesus does for all sinners.

May the Lord who cast out your unbelief and created faith in His sacrifice for sin confirm His work in your life and keep His words on your lips and reflected in your life until He brings your to the goal of your faith, eternal life.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen