Fourth Sunday After Epiphany (Series B)icon-download-pdf-wp
January 28, 2017

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Epistle: 1 Cor. 8:1-13
Lesson: Deut. 18:15-20
Psalm: Psalm 111

CLB Commentary – Rev. Ken Narvesen

Every Christian faces accusation, maybe not from unclean spirits like in this text, but from Satan himself. As we make our way through Epiphany, we are learning about this new King the magi went to pay homage to. What is he like? What is his kingdom like? What difference does it make to our everyday lives that he is King? Today we hear the good news that Jesus has authority over the demons and all who would accuse his forgiven children.

Earlier, in v. 15 Mark had declared, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand…” As He promised, God had sent the Messiah. The shepherds and the magi, and now all people are introduced to him. There is much that we will never understand, God incarnate is indeed a deep mystery. But in the midst of our amazement we must hang onto this glorious truth, he has come for us. And the one who has come for us has the authority to cast out even the unclean spirits who would accuse us. Jesus removes the accusations of the Law; Jesus removes the accusations of Satan. His children can now know what the answer to God of a good conscience really is. No longer do we have to try to manufacture a good conscience by our own works, but we find one in Christ’s perfect righteousness offered to us. Who shall accuse? Who can condemn? Absolutely no one can do that any longer because the Messiah has come to break the condemning power of the Law for all who believe.

Mark quotes the unclean spirits as shouting, “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!” How sad it is to see how Satan and his minions distort the truth of Scripture. Is Jesus the Holy One of God? Yes. But the implication of the demons is that the Holy One of God comes to people to destroy. And people all over the world believe that lie. As you preach this text, it seems to me that your central point must be to destroy that lie and show Jesus as the one broken sinners can always come to, not afraid he will destroy them, but amazed that he forgives and loves them. Bring joy to broken lives with that Word of the Gospel. Cleanse consciences wounded by guilt over sin already forgiven. Strengthen faith that is prone to doubt in weakness.

The eyewitnesses to this account were amazed. They had never before encountered such authoritative teaching. Buls’ Notes quotes the commentator Hendricksen on the striking difference between Jesus’ teaching and that of the scribes.

  1. He spoke ‘with authority’;
  2. His message came straight from the very heart and mind of the Father (John 8:26);
  3. His message came from his own inner being, and from Scripture;
  4. The scribes were constantly borrowing from fallible sources, one scribe quoting another scribe;
  5. They were trying to draw water from broken cisterns;
  6. He drew from himself, being ‘the Fountain of living waters’ (Jeremiah 2:13).

He concludes by stating, “The divinity of Jesus is plainly implicit in verse 22.” This is the recurring theme of Epiphany. God has come to us in the person of his Son Jesus so that broken sinners everywhere can find forgiveness and be fully reconciled to the Father who loves them. Rejoice in that truth as you proclaim the Gospel of this text. No accusation.

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