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The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany/
Presentation Of Our Lord
Series B

Option #1: "A Teaching With Authority"
Mark 1:21-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

 
I. Authority over evil--text, vv23-27

    A. Visible evil--demonic et al--Mk 5; Matt 8:29 passim; Lk 8:28 passim; James 2:19--demons’ opinion of Christ’s power; re: "the Holy One"--Acts 3:14ff; Mark 1:34, 3:11-12; Acts 16:17ff; Luke 9:37ff, 11:14-22

    B. Evil within--repent!; Matt 4:17, 21:32ff; Mark 6:12-13; Luke 13:1-5, 24:47; Acts 5:31-32, 20:21, 2 Cor 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9

II. Authority for good--Matt 9:33-35, 12:22, 15:31; Mark 7:37; Lk 6:35, 10:17-20; Acts 26:20; Rev 3:7ff

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

(1) JESUS CHRIST’S AUTHORITY

When He began to teach in Palestine, all knowledge of God and all exercise of His authority were mediated through the priests and scribes who, however, claimed the Old Testament as their source. Christ was neither the destroyer nor the creator of institutions. He never discussed the abstract right or capacity of the Jewish orders to be religious teachers. He enjoined obedience to their teaching (Mt 23:2-3). Still less did He question the authority of the Old Testament. He came not to destroy, but to fulfill the law and the prophets (Mt 5:17). But He did two things which involved the assertion of a new and superior authority in Himself. He repudiated the scribes’ interpretation of the law (Mt 23:13-16), and He declared that certain of the provisions of the Mosaic law itself were temporary and tentative and to be replaced or supplemented by His own more adequate teaching (Matt 5:32, 34, 39, 44; 19:8-9). In doing this He was really fulfilling a line of thought which permeates the entire Old Testament. All its writers disclaim finality and look forward to a fuller revelation of the mind of God in a day of Yahweh or a new covenant or a Messiah. Jesus Christ regarded these expectations as being realized in Himself and claimed to complete and fulfill the development which had run through the Old Testament. As such, He claims finality in His teaching of the will of God and absolute authority in the realm of religion and morals.

(A) His Teaching: His teaching is with authority. His hearers contrast it with that of the scribes, who, with all the prestige of tradition and establishment, in comparison with Him, entirely lacked authority (Mt 7:29; Mk 1:22; Lk 4:32; Jn 7:46).

(B) His Works: His authority as a teacher is closely associated with His works, especially as these revealed His authority over that world of evil spirits whose influence was felt in the mental disorders that afflicted people (Mk 1:27; Lk 4:36).

(C) Forgiving and Judging: In His claim to forgive sins, sanctioned by works of healing, He exercised a divine prerogative (Matt 9:6, 8; Mk 2:10; Lk 5:24). It stated an infallible moral judgment, a power to dispense with the recognized laws of retribution and to remove guilt, which could only inhere in God. All these powers are asserted in another form in the statement that He is the final judge (Jn 5:27).

(D) Life and Salvation: He therefore possesses authority over life and salvation. This authority begins in His power over His own life to give it in sacrifice for men (John 10:18). By faith in Him and obedience to Him, men obtain salvation (Matt 10:32; 11:28- 30). Their relation to Him determines their relation to God and to the kingdom of heaven (Matt 10:40; Lk 12:8).

(E) Derived from His Sonship: When challenged by the chief priests and elders, the established religious authorities, to state by what authority He taught He gives no categorical reply but tells them the parable of the vineyard. All the prophets and teachers that had come from God before Him were servants, but He is the Son (Mt 21:23-27, 37; Mk 11:28-33; 12:6; Lk 20:2, 8, 13). The fourth gospel definitely founds His authority upon His sonship (John 5:19-27). Paul deduces it from His self-sacrifice (Phil 2:5-11).

(F) In His Ascended State: In His ascended state all authority in heaven and on earth is given unto Him (Matt 28:18). It is not only authority in the church and in the moral kingdom, but in the universe. God has set Him "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come" (Eph 1:21; compare Col 2:10; 1 Pet 3:22; 1 Cor15:24; Rev 12:10).

+   +   +

 Option #2: "God's Gut Feeling For Us"
Hebrews 2:14-18
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. One foot in the grave...

    1. Because of fear of the devil and of death and of the absence of Life, we're bored, distressed, anxious

    2. Because of faithless and unmerciful "high priests" and family secrets, we're banished

B. One foot in glory...

    1. Death, though not eliminated, is rendered impotent and nullified; so we live by and for God

    2. Because of our merciful and faith High Priest, Jesus, and the ultimate of family secrets: "We're family!"

Notes:

1. But the word destroy here does not mean "eliminate." The word means "to render impotent; to nullify; to render inoperative, inconsequential." That is the idea. The devil has not been eliminated, but the devil has been rendered impotent. Not to everyone! Not to everyone! Only under certain conditions is this true, but those conditions are available to all [people] in Jesus Christ. That is what he is saying. When we enter into the conditions, we discover that what he says is thrillingly true: there is a freeing from lifelong bondage. (Ray Stedman)

2. Death is the absence of life. Death is not something in itself, it is simply the absence of something. Someone gets hit by a car, the crowd gathers around and wonders if there is any life left. A doctor may come and examine the body. What does he look for? Evidences of death? No, he looks for evidences of life. If he can find no evidence of life as he searches the body of that person, he finally looks up and says, "I'm sorry; he's dead." Death, in all its forms, is absence of life. That is what boredom is, that is what distress is, that is what fear is, that is what anxiety is. These are forms of death because they are the absence of the life of the Lord Jesus. (Ray Stedman)

3. Death is not merely the scissors which cuts the thread of our life, as a famous ancient symbol indicates. It is rather one of those threads which are woven into the design of our existence, from its very beginning to its end. (Paul Tillich)

4. Freedom is not having what I want; it is doing what God wants. (Ray Stedman)

5.  Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell... Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? And now it is but a Jacob's ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting. (George Spurgeon)

6. It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart--Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet--Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in His power His members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as He overcame, so surely shall His followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for His people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defence. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to Him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour's love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for He can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succour every tried and tempted one. (George Spurgeon)

7. A C.M. hymn by Isaac Watts:

1. With joy we meditate the grace
    Of our High-priest above;
    His heart is made of tenderness,
    His bowels yearn with love.

2. Touched with a sympathy within,
    He knows our feeble frame;
    He knows what sore temptations mean,
    For he hath felt the same.

3. He in the days of feeble flesh
    Poured out his cries and tears;
    And, though exalted, feels afresh
    What every member bears.

4. He'll never quench the smoking flax,
    But raise it to a flame;
    The bruised reed he never breaks,
    Nor scorns the meanest name.

5. Then let our humble faith address
    His mercy and his power:
    We shall obtain delivering grace
    In the distressing hour.

Rev. Kelly Bedard


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