Power and Authority

By Denise Cryer

Mark 1: 21-28

Many, many people around our world, know their Bible better than I do – the religious leaders in the synagogue were very intellectual people; learned scholars, familiar with the scriptures so what made this day in the synagogue so different? It may have been the first time this man had
visited – in which case it’s one heck of a coincidence isn’t it? Jesus just happening to be there too. Jesus often turns up when we’re not expecting him to!

Jesus was a guest speaker on this occasion, but usually it would have been the religious leaders who spoke and taught. I think it’s interesting that all their knowledge, wisdom, insight, clever words – never challenged a demon! Why was that? – because, despite their revered position, they didn’t have the divine power and authority of Jesus! The evil spirit was recognising something in Jesus that was different. It knew its time was up! it already knew that when Jesus addressed it, it was out of there and it wouldn’t be able to taunt and torment this man anymore! It wasn’t Jesus’ clever words, we’re not actually told what it was he said, it was the power and authority in which he spoke. 1 John 3:8 says, “for this purpose Christ was revealed, to destroy all the works of the evil one”

Jesus didn’t use man-given authority in the same way the religious leaders did, the way many politicians do today. I’m sure we all know someone who’s lorded it over US because of their position – perhaps an older brother or sister, perhaps a boss at work, maybe a leader even, in a local church. But this isn’t the kind of authority Jesus executed here. HIS words were coming straight from the heart and mind of God! And Jesus did, what he seemed to do best – he ruffled feathers! Jesus came into the world as a baby in a manger, not at all what had been expected of the Messiah – and ruffled feathers. Jesus was, and still is, ruffling feathers today.

This man in our passage had his life totally transformed – he wouldn’t be rejected any more or dismissed as “crazy”. He was free. Free to build a new life that wasn’t full of torment and torture! All through the New Testament men, women and children encountered Jesus and had their lives
transformed – the blind saw, the lame walked, the mute spoke, all kinds of disease and sickness healed – and they still do today. God doesn’t want any of us to go on living, however ok we might think it is, the life that we have right now. John 10:10 says of Jesus, “I came that they might have
life, and have it more abundantly” God wants to be effective in every area of our life – not only in our illness. There’s a little guy in the Bible called Zacchaeus – a tax collector and one of the wealthiest men in Jericho – until he opened his home and heart to Jesus. That brief visit cost him most of his fortune which he ended up giving to the poor and back to those he’d cheated, but he went on to live a life that was much more valuable than any of the money he’d had! A man called Saul had a promising future stretched out in front of him. Then he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and everything changed – that persecutor of Christians became a disciple of Christ. Over a 1000 years later, Francis of Assisi, the son of a rich cloth merchant and heir to great wealth, encountered Jesus and his life took a radical turn.

Many of US listening today, have met Jesus and had our lives transformed through that same power and authority as the man in the synagogue – who probably wouldn’t have gone there expecting to be healed! He’d probably heard about Jesus and thought he was worth listening to! I wonder – if any of YOU have heard about Jesus and think it might be worth meeting him yourself? I’d really like to encourage you to do that, especially as we continue through these difficult times.

Many of us are experiencing situations we’ve not had to deal with before; fears and worries and anxieties; illness; loneliness; loss and grief; emptiness; financial difficulties – the list goes on. Many of us have been brought to our knees by situations we can’t control, forces that are too
strong for us – and when we’re feeling like this, we need to turn to that power that’s above and beyond ourselves. Jesus is the One who has authority over EVERY battle we might find ourselves in and, as our passage has shown us, even if that battle’s a spiritual one.

The interesting thing, is that when Jesus moves in our life, He doesn’t want us to be stuck in that moment. It’s great when he answers a prayer or heals us, or just loves us when we need it – but it shouldn’t stop there! The final line in our passage says, “news about Him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” ! People were excited about what they’d witnessed, and news of Jesus spread quickly.

And this is what Christian discipleship is all about – meeting Jesus – allowing Him to fill US with the same power and authority, so we can live that full life that He came to give us, so we too can share what we know and see of Jesus with others. What a difference it would make in our families; in our circle of friends; in our communities, if we engage in mission through word and deed! If we just get excited about what Jesus is doing, and share with those we know and love.

I think there’s a couple of reasons this doesn’t happen as much as it should. Firstly, I think we need to get excited about God! – about reading His Word; speaking to Him in prayer; through listening to Him, encouraging one another and building one another up! and when we can, sharing quality fellowship with one another.

Secondly, for some of us, it’s easy to talk!! – for others, not quite so. But a good place to start is by asking ourselves a few basic questions – who is Jesus? what does He mean to ME personally? Is He a baby to be adored at Christmas?, a go-to in a crisis? Or Is He a Shepherd to be trusted, to be followed? Is He an answer to my prayers? A healer for my sickness? A comfort for my sadness, my peace in the middle of my troubles?. And when you’ve mulled these questions over – had a good think about them for yourself – then you’ve got something to share with others, then you can ask yourself, “If He means these things to me, what might He mean to my friend, my relative? my neighbour?” how might God’s power and authority change their lives? We’ve all got something to share and we’ve all got someone to share it with.

Its easy to say that we believe in God isn’t it? ; that we believe in Jesus. But can we say, “He’s MY God, Jesus is MY Saviour”?. Let’s plug in to God’s power supply so we don’t just look good on the outside, but so we can share our faith, our experiences of the living Jesus with others as the early church did, our communities; our world will be transformed. In the name and the power and the authority of Jesus,

Amen