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MARK 1:21-31

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
March 12, 2000

Over the past few Sundays we’ve been focusing on the early ministry of Jesus Christ as its been recorded in the Gospel of Mark. This morning we want to continue in that study. I encourage you to turn with me to Mark 1:21-31.

The emphasis in these verses - and in the verses that come later in Mark chapter one - is the authority of Jesus Christ. And that’s what we want to focus on this morning - the authority of Jesus Christ - and the confidence His authority gives us in life.

Mark 1:21-31: “They - Jesus and the disciples - went into Capernaum - a small town on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee - and immediately on the Sabbath He - Jesus - entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Let me read that again. Its the main point of these verses: “Jesus was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Lets think about that for just a bit. What does it mean that Jesus taught with authority?

The people who heard Jesus teach were astonished at His authority. When the scribes - the teachers of the day - taught they might have said something like, “Hillel says this, and Gamaliel adds this, while other authorities suggest this....”

Today, the best that any teacher or preacher can do - after studying the Bible - in the original languages - even the translations - in English and Armenian - after consulting commentaries and various experts and scholars - after prayer and seeking personal understanding and application of the Scripture to their own life - the best that any teacher or preacher can do is to tell us what they believe the word of God is saying.

Jesus didn’t refer to any other authority. Jesus didn’t speak about the word of God. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Word of God.

John writes of Jesus - in his Gospel - John 1:14: “And the Word - Jesus - became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the Word - the very essence of God’s truth - the very essence/nature of God in flesh and blood. When Jesus speaks its with the same divine authority as God when He spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai - giving him the 10 commandments. God, making His covenant with Abraham. God declaring, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” (Mark 9:7)  And so on. Jesus speaks with divine authority.

Now, what does that mean for us? How does Jesus’ divine authority touch our lives?

I once heard a story about a man who suffered from a tickling in his throat - a buzzing in his ears - and just occasional times of dizziness. Tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and just occasional times of dizziness.

He went to the doctor and the doctor examined him and he discovered that it was his tonsils. They were seriously infected and this was effecting the whole metabolism of his body - so he had his tonsils out. Which wasn’t to bad. In fact, he enjoyed the ice cream after the surgery. And it wasn’t long before he was as healthy as he could be after the operation. But he still had the tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and those occasional times of dizziness.

So they called in a second opinion - a specialist - and he traced it down to his appendix. So, he had his appendix out and that wasn’t too bad. 36 hours in the hospital and he was back home. He had to be careful and not lift any heavy weights. But it wasn’t long until he was feeling really good. Except that he did have a tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and just those occasional times of dizziness.

Well, after further consultation they decided it was his teeth. So he had all his teeth out. That was a little more painful. But he didn’t take too long to get over that and he was amazed how well he could get along with dentures. And, so that phase passed. But, he had to admit in spite of all that, he still had a tickling in his throat - buzzing in his ears - and those occasional times of dizziness.

Well, the doctors finally gave up and decided that what he really needed was a 6 month vacation in Hawaii - just relaxing on the beach. So, off he went to Hawaii - and at the end of those 6 months he was very rested and had a deep tan.

On the way home - he happened to stop in one of those clothing stores they have in airports - and he decided to buy a shirt. So, he went into the store and told the salesman what he wanted.

And the salesman asked him, “What size neck?” And he said, “14½.”

So the salesman looked at him a bit and said, “Excuse me sir. Do you mind me suggesting that you would probably feel more comfortable with a 16?”

Anyway, the man was very indignant. He said, “I’ve been buying my shirts all my life. And I think I have a pretty good idea of what size shirt I wear.

“Oh,” the salesman said, “Pardon me sir. I didn’t want to offend you. I mean - I’m prepared to sell you any size shirt. That’s my business - sell shirts - whatever the size. But, I would suggest that if you wear a 14½ when you should be wearing a 16. It’s just possible that you might have a tickling in your throat - a buzzing in your ears - and just occasional times of dizziness.”

Well, you say that’s a pretty silly story - and it is. But you know that’s exactly what happens with us. We’re constantly trying to fit our wisdom and understanding into the experiences of our lives. We appeal to absolutely every authority that we can find - when here in our hands is the authority of the Word of God - the truth that speaks to our every deepest need and situation.

In every phase of life we’re confronted with momentous problems - and human beings have tried every kind of solution for the human dilemma - politically - economically - psychiatrically - philosophically. But never coming to the conclusion that God knows to be the only final remedy for the human situation. All that truth is wrapped in what God had in mind when He sent His Son into this world - the one anointed by God - chosen by God to restore us - to heal us of our sin.

And this Jesus speaks with the authority of God to the situations and deepest needs of our lives- and that’s astonishing.

Reading on in Mark chapter 1 there are 5 examples of Jesus’ authority applied to real life situations. This morning we want to highlight the first two of these.

The first situation comes in verses 23-28: THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS OVER THE POWER OF SATAN.

Verse 23: “Just then - while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue - there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit - a demon - and he - the demon - cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God.’”

Jesus is teaching - and the demon can’t take it any longer. The demon knows who Jesus is and why Jesus has come. The demon uses this possessed man’s voice and cries out, “I know who You are.” Then question is asked, “Have you come to destroy us?”

James writes - in James 2:19 - that the demons believe - they know who Jesus is - and they shudder - they live in fear - trembling. Because Jesus has authority over all things spiritual. And, Jesus has come to destroy the power of Satan.

Verse 25: “Jesus rebuked the demon, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ Throwing him - this man - into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. And, the people in the synagogue - were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’ Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.”

The demon didn’t want to leave. He sends the man into convulsions. But - confronted with the command - the authority - of Jesus - he has to leave.

Several years ago - when I was working as the Director of Camp AREV - we had a situation that I can only describe as the presence of evil. I’m not personally called to this type of ministry - a direct confrontation with demons and their activity. And, I not someone who runs around finding demons lurking behind every shadow. In fact, I tend to be a little skeptical. Sometimes Christians rush to give Satan credit for things he really isn’t doing.

But from time to time I find myself called to situations where I’m confronted by the working of Satan - through oppression or demonic activity - and this was one of those situations. There was a continuing spirit of evil and oppression on the camp grounds. And, the ministry of the camp was being affected.

Through contact with a local church we found out that there were a number of covens - groups of witches - operating in the area - who were actively working to invoke Satan’s power against the camp. This had been going on long before we had bought the property.

So, one afternoon - members of the Camp AREV Board - and members of the local church - we went to the camp and began to pray. We marched around the perimeter of the property - from corner to corner - singing praises to God. At each corner we stood and prayed in the name of Jesus Christ - rebuking Satan - lifting up the name of Jesus Christ - claiming the blood of Jesus Christ over the camp. We went into the buildings - into each room - and prayed - in the name of Jesus Christ - claiming the camp for God and His work.

From that day on the ministry of the camp changed - and spirit of oppression over the camp left. Things changed.

In every situation where I have encountered the demonic and the oppressive work of Satan - and everyone I have listened to - and from every authority that I have read on the subject - as a believer in Jesus Christ - using the name of Jesus Christ - His authority - always brings victory over Satan - because Jesus has authority over the work and activity of Satan.

The occult - witchcraft - satanism - are a fascination for our culture. We dabble in ouija boards - horoscopes - psychic friends - astrologers. Hollywood is continually feeding our fascination with movies and T.V. programs. Go into any book store - and look at the religion section - or the self-help section - and it is amazing how many books are written which claim spiritual insight which is completely opposed to what God has revealed about Himself. People today are sold out to all this - even people claiming to be Christians.

People fear death. They’re looking for answers to the ultimate questions of life. We don’t need these things and the false teaching they offer. We don’t need to be afraid of evil and the forces of darkness. Jesus is the victory.

Then in verses 29-31 is the second situation: THE COMPASSIONATE AUTHORITY OF JESUS OVER SICKNESS.

Verse 29: “And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.”

Armenians are very "heuraser." Its impossible to go to an Armenian home and not be offered a something to eat and some coffee - preferably Armenian. The same was true at Simon and Andrew’s house.

When Jesus gets there Simon and Andrew start to apologize that nothing is being served. After all, they say, Simon’s mother-in-law is sick and she hasn’t been able to prepare anything. “They spoke to Jesus about her.”

Jesus - in a wonderful act of compassion - when He heard about the sickness - goes to her - takes her by the hand - raises her up - and the fever leaves her.

Its not a necessary miracle. The fever would have past. She probably had a flu or a cold - nothing life threatening. Its not like curing leprosy - which he does later in chapter one. But the act speaks of the authority of Jesus over sickness and the deep compassion in the heart of Jesus - that he responded to the suffering of this woman.

The Bible tells us about the authority of Jesus Christ. He has all authority in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18) Jesus has authority to execute judgment over mankind. (John 5:27)  He has authority over angels and spiritual powers (1 Peter 3:22) - over all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:10) And so on. These are abstract.

What Mark emphasizes in these situations is very practical - divine authority exercised with compassion.

Chronic illnesses - aches and pains of age - the uncertainty of possible terminal illness - mental anguish - depression. Whatever the physical problem - whatever the struggle of going through each day - we need that compassion of Jesus in our lives - to touch us and lift us up. And to know that He will always be there with us - that no one has a greater authority to remove our compassionate Jesus from us.

I’d like to conclude by sharing the Paul’s words from Romans 8. As I’m reading - think about just how secure we are in Jesus. We have no need to fear. We know His compassionate presence in our lives.

Listen to Paul’s words: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)