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What is This?

What is This?

Don’t you just love it when you encounter a moment in life where you feel completely powerless? When it doesn’t matter how educated you are. How wealthy you are. How physically strong you are. You’re just powerless.

Like when the train breaks down, but you’re underground between stops and there’s nothing you can do.

Or perhaps you have all kinds of great ideas for how to improve things at your company. But because of your position, you have no power and those in power are fixated on the status quo. And you just feel helpless to do anything about it.

Or getting even more serious, you have a health condition. And you’ve done all the research and seen all the doctors, but no help so far. You simply feel resigned to live with what is showing itself to be a chronic condition.

Or remember so long ago, when we were living through a pandemic and it left us feeling completely helpless. And even when we thought we were making the kinds of advances to get this virus in our rearview mirror…we were reminded again that we do not have all control.

As we continue getting to know who Jesus is, what he taught, and what he did – we’re going to learn a ton today about who is powerful and what is powerless. And I hope 30 minutes from now, because of what we’re about to see and hear, that we will love Jesus more, have deeper faith in Jesus, have our confidence grow, pray even bolder prayers, and believe God for what we have been thinking is absolutely impossible.

Mark 1:21-34 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. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “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!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

I’m calling this message a question that is right out of the text. It’s a question that is so appropriate once you observe who Jesus is, what He is saying, and what He is doing. Here’s the question:

What is this?

As in, “We’ve never seen anything quite like this.” I think a better question than, “What is this?” is the question, “WHO is this?” And as you gain greater clarity on who this is, I think you’ll be so eager to orient more and more of your life around who Jesus actually is.

We’re going to see the authority of Jesus on display everywhere as we walk through the Gospel of Mark. Today we see his authority as he’s teaching, as he’s casting out demons, and as he’s healing the sick. We’ll focus on these areas today. But as we go along, you are going to see his authority over: leprosy, paralysis, the blind, the deaf, the weather, sin, and death.

For starters, the people were amazed that Jesus taught as one who had authority. What does this mean? When other people would teach, they would always quote different experts, like Rabbi so and so. Jesus doesn’t do that. Why? Because his authority comes directly from God.

As Jesus is teaching, a man who is demon-possessed cries out, “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!” Jesus, using his authority, says, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” The impure spirit shakes the man violently and then comes out of him. The people were all so amazed that they began asking each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority and he even has authority over impure spirits.” A few things I want to point out:

The demons know who Jesus is and they know what authority he has.

James 2:18-19 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

One thing I am passionate about is making sure you know the difference between believing in who Jesus is and actually putting your faith in Jesus.

Does your faith in Jesus surpass the faith of demons?

And you see the power of Jesus over these demons. “Be quiet! Come out of him!” This, my friends, is what authority looks like. These demons obey Jesus – not because they want to but because they have to.

What are demons? Fallen angels who rebelled against God. Their allegiance is to the devil. Their purpose is to carry out the devil’s schemes and to oppose God. Demons work by lying, deceit, and oppression. And when the opportunity arises, they enter the body of a person.

1 John 3:8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

One commentator shared that the word destroyed means this:

destroy – to render inoperative, to rob of power

Jesus wants to destroy anything that is destroying you.

And unsurprisingly, the news about Jesus starts spreading quickly. He goes into Simon Peter’s home and they tell him Peter’s mother-in-law is sick. He takes her hand and helps her up. The fever leaves her body and she begins to serve them dinner.

In our current world, and for good reason, we are highly suspicious of people who have lots of power. But right here in this moment, we begin to see that the one who has all authority also has more compassion than anyone who’s ever lived.

With that in mind let me give you a vision for how to steward power. This is from John’s gospel, just before Jesus would wash the disciples’ feet…just before he would die for the world.

John 13:3-4 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

He knew His identity. He knew His power. So what did he do? He got up and wrapped a serving towel around his waist and started washing feet.

Because the news about Jesus goes viral, the whole town shows up at Peter’s door. And Jesus heals many of various diseases and drives out many demons. Something similar happens in Mark 3:7-12:

Mark 3:7-12 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

Again, we see that Jesus has all authority. But why is this good news? Because, if Jesus has all authority, this means:

Our culture doesn’t have to have the ultimate influence in your life.

You will not encounter anything or anyone on the streets of San Francisco who is more powerful than Jesus.

You will never receive a doctor’s report that tells you of a disease that has authority over Jesus.

The identity Jesus gives you must be the truest thing about you – because after all, He has ALL authority.

Whatever Jesus says is possible… is possible.

Even death won’t have the last word over your life.

What does the authority of Jesus have to do with the vision of Epic Church?

To answer this question, we need to look at a text from another gospel. This is what Matthew recorded after the resurrection of Jesus:

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are called to make more followers of Jesus from every nation. We’re called to baptize them (which we do regularly here to mark the moment of them finding life in Jesus) and teach them to obey everything – or as we say around here, to orient their ENTIRE lives around Jesus.

This is the mission of our church. And how do we go after this confidently? Because the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth has promised to always be with us.

So what do you do now that you know Jesus has all authority? Look at Mark 3:10:

Mark 3:10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.

Because of what we’ve seen and heard about Jesus, it’s time to push forward to touch him today.

Where do you need Jesus to bring his authority into your life?

To forgive your sin and to welcome you into the family of God?

You’re up against something that seems so powerful but you need Him to overcome?

There’s something with your physical or mental health where you’re desperate for healing?

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