By Verse : Mark 1:21-28 Topic :

Jan. 28,18
HE SPOKE WITH AUTHORITY

There once was a Shakespearean actor who was known for his one-man shows of readings and recitations from the classics. At the end of each performance he ended by reciting a dramatic reading of the 23 Psalm. Each night, without fail, with great dramatic flair, he would begin, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.” The crowd would listen intently, and when he came to the conclusion of the Psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor’s ability to bring the verse to life. One night, just before the actor was to go into his dramatic presentation of the Psalm, a 23-year-old young man from the audience stood and said, “Sir, would you allow me to recite the 23 Psalm tonight?” A little perplexed by this unusual request, the actor thought for a moment and decided it wouldn’t hurt for someone to finish the night for him just this one time, so, he invited the young man to come forward to recite the Psalm while he stood right beside him. With a soft voice the young man began to recite the words of the Psalm. When he finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. The audience was so moved by the young man’s recitation that every eye was full of tears. All that could be heard was the sounds of weeping. Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the young man, “I don’t understand. I have been performing this Psalm for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training in dramatic reading, but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?” The young man quietly replied, “Well sir, you might know the Psalm. I know the Shepherd.”
Following the baptism of Jesus, his trip to the desert, his confrontation with the devil, his call of a few of the disciples, Mark writes these words: “They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” Thus, says the Word of God for us this morning.
“They were amazed because Jesus taught as one who had authority.” Have you ever thought what did he teach that day? Mark never tells us. What Mark wants us to know is that his audience was moved. For years, perhaps, they have listened to the teachers of the Law, messages from the Rabbis and guests who came. But none were like this man who stood up to read. Was it his voice that gave it authority? Was it the words that brought about their reaction? We just don’t know. But maybe, just maybe, we can say on that day Jesus was like that 23-year-old young man who, when he stood and prayed the 23 Psalm it wasn’t some kind of recitation of a Psalm that he had memorized as a child, but he said it as one who some time, some place, some way met the Shepherd of that Psalm.
Mark could have said Jesus melted the hearts of all those who heard him. The people were amazed, because the one who stood to teach spoke with “authority.” In other words, could we not say he spoke with power? Oh, no dramatic presentation. No moving or flaying with his hands or arms, no holding this item or that item to make a point. In fact, maybe he sat where he was and just began talking like he did when he gathered that great group of people for the Sermon on the Mountain. The people were amazed and in awe. They had never heard someone speak with such great authority. It so overwhelmed them that they understood the message from the Messenger. His words perhaps penetrated to their hearts, souls and minds. He brought whatever he was teaching to life, just with the words he was saying. Did he read Scripture? We don’t know. Was he teaching something about the coming Messiah? Mark doesn’t say. It doesn’t matter, for what Mark wants us to know, and to realize is when Jesus talked, taught, he did it with authority. He didn’t scare the people with his words, he showed loved to them through his words, even when he was speaking things that might have been difficult to comprehend.
Here, Jesus comes into the synagogue, as his habit is, and all eyes were on this visitor that day. In Luke’s account, we find Jesus at another synagogue and there stood to read from the scroll that was handed to him. Jesus turned to the great prophet Isaiah and read; “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He sat down as all eyes fell upon him, or as Luke records, “The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.” In other words, they were like the audience that listened as the 23-year-old read the Psalm. Or as Mark has said, “The people were amazed for Jesus talked with authority.” It was more than one of the teachers of the Law reading the Scriptures. It was one who could have recited it by heart because he knew the author of those words. He knew him from before he was born. He knew him after Isaiah had died. But more importantly he knew the God that had come to allow these words to be written showing the way to the people that the one they were looking for, the Messiah, the Anointed One, had come, and now he stands right there in front of them. Jesus spoke with such authority as he read those verses, and as he taught in Synagogue after Synagogue, that not only were the people amazed, many were touched by his words, they were challenged by his words, they were convicted by his words. When Jesus spoke, no one fell asleep. When he spoke, no one was thinking of what needed to be done that day at home, on the farm, or where they would go to eat. They weren’t thinking of things that were bothering them. They were focused on every word Jesus spoke. It mesmerized them. They were in awe, not of the way he presented it, but because it was like a burning ember burning right through their bodies right to the core of their being, right to the center of their spirits, in other words, right to their hearts. AND THEY WERE AMAZED AND IN AWE! Those words had power that brought hope and peace to many. And to prove the point of his authority, in Mark’s account, if you go back to where I left off, we find there was a man there that was possessed by an evil spirit and as it began to speak out of the mouth of a man there, trying to disrupt the moment perhaps, trying to infringe on Jesus’ authority, his moment, and because Jesus held the souls and hearts of his audience in his hands, Mark records Jesus spoke to that evil spirit, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all amazed that 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 read with authority. He acted with authority. Could we say that to prove his authority he commanded the demons to leave that man…. with authority? And some were amazed. And like some who can’t grasp what God can do, some perhaps tried to downplay what they just saw. We know that for a fact, for when Jesus did great things, brought about healings and all that, didn’t some say he must be doing this through the devil, rather than give credit to God? Some weren’t sure what to think. And as we know, some decided he had to go. Luke’s gospel says they drove Jesus out of town and were going to toss him down a cliff, but, “He walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
What makes this story and others like it important? Because the one who did these things so long ago is the same one who walks among us today. We know that. Or at least we say we know that. But here is my question, and it’s not just for you but I have to deal with it too in my own life. DO WE BELIEVE IT? Do we believe that even now God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit has the authority to do the things that were done back then? Do we truly believe that they walk amongst us still? Do we believe it from the top of our heads right down to souls of our feet that Jesus can do all things in our lives, for our lives, no matter what? We may not have his voice, but what we have is his words of authority written so that our lives can be amazed, transformed, changed, challenged, and what he does is awesome, which leaves us in awe. WOW!
That 23 Psalm has touched and comforted many a person going through mourning, or dealing with severe illness, or just going through the valley of the shadow of death or going through times of lostness. The words are soothing. They remind us that “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” Do we believe that? Here’s another challenging thought, DO WE ACT AS IF WE BELIEVE THAT?
Scriptures from Genesis 1:1 to the end of the Book of Revelation are there to offer us hope. They are there to remind us of God’s grace shown throughout history. God doesn’t hide anything, and he doesn’t sugarcoat it either.
Our God is all powerful. Think of it. With His almighty power God brought forth this world. “In the beginning God” we read, and with authority it began. Out of nothing came the world we live in today. Out of darkness came light. Out of the dust came man. Out of the rib of Adam came a woman. With authority, God said, “Let there be” and whatever he wanted to happen, happened.
Even the prophets God sent to his people, spoke with authority as they preached God’s Word to the people. One after another God raised up those who would bring his message of repentance and hope to a fallen world. With authority they spoke, “Thus says the Lord” and God’s message would come forth. Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Malachi spoke to kings, to priests, to the teachers of the law, to ordinary people as well. They did it with authority and God’s people were challenged and those who believed repented and were transformed.
I can picture those disciples, you know those first ones that were called by Jesus, not only being amazed at what Jesus was teaching, but when he drove that evil demon from that fellow, WOW! Who is this man? What powers does he have? What are we getting ourselves into?
But aren’t we glad we have stories like these? After all, they can excite us as well. With them we are reminded about John’s words that said that the Word came into a darkened world of sin to expose it. We are reminded that Jesus came to live among us. And after the resurrection we are reminded that Christ lives today. Those are powerful events for each of us as we travel our spiritual road. We walk with one who has the authority to change any and all circumstances we face. We follow the one that defeated Satan, the grave, and provides eternal life.
That’s why we are amazed or should be amazed. We are amazed when we hear great testimonies when someone has met God some place. But we shouldn’t be. We should rejoice! We should shout “amen” when the light comes into view.
When I was in college and seminary I was amazed by those who taught. They talked not only from years of experience, but also words of authority. You knew that what they were teaching they believed. You could tell it by their presentation, the joy they shared in getting their subject across, for them their subject was the most important one that you needed to know so that you could have a deeper relationship with God through Jesus, as they prepared you to go into all the world to bring God’s message of hope and salvation. They wanted to make sure you knew the Jesus you were going to be speaking about. It was a life-changing experience.
Jesus spoke with authority and because of that he had a huge following. In fact, as we know, no matter where he went people followed, or came together to hear what he had to say. From the Sermon on the Mount to touching lepers, blind folks, lame people, speaking in synagogues, or just walking along the way. When he spoke, it was with authority. Just think of it, he fed thousands with just a few loaves and a couple of fish. He prayed, and it was done. He taught the disciples to pray, and the world as well, when he said “pray like this. “Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He spoke because he knew the One to whom he was praying personally, for he was his own Father, the creator of all, the ruler of all, who had power upon power, and who said to the world, “This is my beloved son, listen to him!”
He spoke because he was there from the beginning of creation. He spoke, and it happened. He is the light. He is the salt of the earth. He is His Father’s only begotten Son. He is the great “I Am.”
That’s why we gather every Sunday. That’s the message that is proclaimed I hope and pray through my words. I want you to see Jesus. I want you to know Jesus. I want you to know Jesus so that you will go tell others about Jesus not because of what I might say, but because my Jesus has become your Jesus.
Jesus spoke with authority and the people were amazed. Jesus healed with authority and people were amazed. Jesus called sinners to come and receive new life and people were amazed. Jesus called forth Lazarus from the grave and people were amazed. Jesus rose from the grave and people were amazed. Jesus lives today, and is here today, and he still calls others to repentance and offers forgiveness to all, and people are amazed.
Let me close with this one. When we all take our final breath on this earth and our first in the presence of God, we will be amazed at who is there, and perhaps more amazed at who isn’t. But the most awesome thing will be, that you who believe have made it.

Judy and Mikki celebrating birthdays!

Judy and Mikki celebrating birthdays!

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