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Epiphany 4, 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
January 30, 31, 2021
Deut. 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, Mark 1:21-28

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Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
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            In the military obedience is vital.  Recruits are trained to instantly obey the order of a superior.  If you pass someone who outranks you, you salute them. How do you know who’s who in the army? How do you know who outranks who? There are uniforms and on the uniforms are rank insignia.  Just by looking at a soldier in uniform you can tell his rank at a glance.  Private, Sergeant, Colonel, General.  With identity comes authority.  With identity, authority is recognized.

            The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels and it is very action oriented in its language.  Immediately this happens and then immediately this other thing happens.  In the early parts of the Gospel of Mark, who is it that knows Jesus’ true identity and therefore recognizes His authority. 

            There is no Christmas story in Mark; instead it begins with John the Baptist.  John knows Jesus’ true identity, Mark 1:7-8 (ESV) 7 And [John] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [1]

            At Jesus’ baptism Mark 1:10-11 (ESV) 10 … when [Jesus] came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” [2]  John the Baptist knows Jesus’ true identity and also God the Holy Spirit and God the Father. 

            Who else?  Mark 1:12-13 (ESV) 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. … [3]  Satan knows who Jesus really is.

            Jesus calls His first disciples, brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, and brothers James and John.  Mark 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.[4]  We are not sure exactly what these men know about Jesus.  Jesus is a teacher, He is different than other teachers, but what do Peter, Andrew, James and John know about Him.  We are not sure.

            This brings us to our lesson today just 21 verses into the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus goes to the Synagogue in Capernaum where we find someone else who knows Jesus real identity.  Mark 1:22 (ESV) 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.[5]  The people at the synagogue, much like Peter, Andrew, James and John, recognize that Jesus is a great teacher and different from others, but it is not evident that they know who Jesus really is. Who in the synagogue that day recognizes Jesus?  Mark 1:23-24 (ESV) 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “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.”[6]

            This unclean spirit, this demon, knows who Jesus really is.  How does Jesus react?  Mark 1:25-26 (ESV) 25 …Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.[7]  This demon knows who Jesus is and he knows that Jesus outranks him.  He knows Jesus has authority over him.  He has to do what Jesus tells him to do. 

            Jesus has authority over Satan and Jesus has authority over demons; Satan’s minions. This is good news for you because the devil and his unclean spirits are quite active in the world.  There is an ongoing war, Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.[8]

            You need to be aware of this battle.  1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.[9]

            Jesus’ true identity was not so clear to His disciples until He told them what was coming, Mark 8:31 (ESV) 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.[11] 

            You should always stay alert, but you do not need to be afraid.  You don’t need to be afraid because you belong to Jesus and Jesus outranks the devil.  Martin Luther writes, “Why should you fear? Why should you be afraid? Do you not know that the (devil) has been judged? He is no lord. You have a different, a stronger, Lord, Christ, who has overcome and bound him. Therefore let the (devil) look sour, bare his teeth, and make a great noise, threaten and act in an unmannerly way; he can do no more than a bad dog on a chain, which may bark, run here and there, and tear at the chain. But because it is tied and you avoid it, it cannot bite you” [10]

            The devil is like a bad dog on a chain.  You can easily avoid him.  And yet there are so many that are fooled by the devil acting like a sweet dog and getting people to come near to pet his head and then they get bitten.  Folks dabble with the darkness of occult practices, addiction, and sexual immorality and give the devil a chance to bite.  Be aware, but not afraid.  The devil is like a bad dog on a chain.  Steer clear. Stay away.  He has no power over you.  You belong to Jesus and Jesus has authority over the devil. 

            Jesus’ true identity was not so clear to His disciples until He told them what was coming, Mark 8:31 (ESV) 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.[11] 

            Jesus tells this to the disciples and what is Peter’s reaction?  Peter rebukes Jesus.  Peter tells him that this will never happen.  Jesus tells Peter, “Mark 8:33 (ESV) 33 … “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”[12]

            The disciples learn Jesus’ true identity as the Lamb of God; the sacrificial offering for the sins of the world.  Jesus most important task is not to teach or heal or feed, but rather it is to die; to die for the sins of the world and rise again from the dead.  The disciples learn this.  They learn who Jesus really is and they recognize His authority.  Jesus tells the disciples Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 … “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [13]  Jesus has all authority and the disciples do what He tells them to do.  They begin to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching. 

So who knows Jesus real identity and authority?  John the Baptist, God the Holy Spirit, God the Father, Satan, the demons, the original 11 disciples, and all those who have been made disciples by baptizing and teaching.  All these know Jesus true identity.  This includes you.  You know who Jesus really is.  He is the Holy One of God.  He is God in flesh.  He outranks you and He has authority over you.  You need to do what He says.  When you fail to obey you need to confess your rebellion and receive forgiveness.  And you give thanks that Jesus has authority, over you, over Satan and his demons, and over sin.  When Jesus says your sins are forgiven; your sins are forgiven.  Thanks be to God.  You know the real Jesus. 

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10] What Luther Says 1185 CPH

[11]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[12]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[13]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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