4th Sunday after Epiphany – B LSB #’s 400, 849, 398
Text – Mark 1:24c
I know who you are – the Holy One of God.
DO YOU KNOW JESUS?
To know Jesus & to let Him be known! Do those words sound at all familiar? They’re the vision statement of this congregation, & they tie in well with the Gospel reading for today. Do you know Jesus? The unclean spirit that Jesus cast out certainly knew Him. Hopefully you are not an unclean spirit, but if you are one of God’s children you should know Jesus well.
He is your brother & your Creator. He is rescuing you from the unclean spirits & from the destruction they bring to God’s creation. In the Gospel reading last Sunday, of Mark 1:14-20, Jesus stated that the time is fulfilled & the reign of God is at hand. In the reading for today the word of Jesus gave direct audio & visual evidence of His reign:
“Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, & come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him & crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.” (Mark 1:25-26 ESV) Mind you, this is already in chapter one of Mark’s gospel. Yet, by chapter 8, the people still do not know Jesus:
“[Jesus] asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; & others say, Elijah; & others, one of the prophets.’” (Mark 8:27b-28 ESV) Apparently, none of the people were saying that Jesus is the Holy One of God. By chapters nine & ten His own disciples reveal their lack of understanding of Jesus.
Those chapters are well over half way through the 3 year ministry of Christ. Finally, in chapter 14, a woman appears with an alabaster flask of very costly ointment & she pours it over Jesus’ head. It seems that finally someone realizes Jesus is going to die, & she’s anointing Him for burial. As Jesus said in verses 8 & 9, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then, Judas conspired to betray Jesus, while the other disciples prepared for Jesus to eat His last Passover meal with them.
Do you know Jesus? His disciples & the people of His day did not seem to know Him. If we were to evaluate Jesus’ ministry by today’s standards of success, He’d be a failure. Yet, one lonely woman anoints Him for burial & Jesus commends her for her understanding. Do you know Jesus? It’s not as easy to answer that question as you first thought.
When Peter made his famous confession, “You are the Christ,” Jesus responded with the revelation that they needed. He tells them who He is – the Son of Man who will be rejected by the Jewish leaders, suffer, die & rise again. However, Peter rejects that description of who Jesus is. “But turning & seeing His disciples, [Jesus] rebuked Peter & said, ‘Get behind me Satan.’”
Peter was trying to be a disciple yet Satan himself was using him. You & I have been in Peter’s shoes far more times than we care to know, even when we thought we were following the Son of God! Though Satan & his demons are invisible to us we do live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we truly cannot stand upright.
Do you remember the prayer I read before the OT lesson: “Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength & protection to support us in all dangers & carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives & reigns with You & the Holy Spirit…”
Jesus came not only to rescue us but to rescue His disciples & everyone else who would trust in Him. To trust Jesus is to know Him, but trusting Him means to surrender your will to His. It means to believe & to follow everything Jesus taught – when it makes no sense to you, & even when it brings sacrifice & suffering into your life. Without faith in Jesus as Savior all we have is a sinful nature. Like the unclean spirit, our sinful nature rightly fears that Jesus has come to destroy us. The demon’s cry of terror, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God,” reveals that the presence of Jesus brings the danger of judgment for everyone present.
The people in the synagogue do not fully understand who Jesus is or what His presence means, but they cannot evade the impression of having been confronted by a word invested with power to which there were no comparisons in their experience.
“And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, & they obey Him.’ And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.” Note it is Jesus’ fame that spreads not faith & trust in Him as Messiah.
Since knowing Jesus includes accepting His authority, then our vision statement is not simply about spreading the fame of Jesus as a miracle worker. ‘To know Jesus & to let Him be known’ means to let others know of Jesus’ authority as the Author & Savior of all creation. Our mission statement then includes the means by which we’ve agreed to do that:
“By reflecting God’s love, teaching our children & serving the community” we carry out the vision statement. However, we cannot carry it out unless we first know Jesus as our Lord & Savior. Do you know Jesus’ authority? As children of God our sinful nature makes that a lifelong struggle, but the struggle shows that faith does live within.
The unclean spirit is consciously aware of his uncleanness. No compromise is possible between the holy & the unclean. He doesn’t deny it or try to make excuses for it. He knows that Jesus is truth incarnate & cannot be deceived.
Adam & Eve, on the other hand, tried to cover their nakedness & ran away from God. Of our sinful nature, mankind has been doing the same thing ever since. Part of knowing Jesus as Savior is realizing & accepting that you & I need to be saved. What are some of the things you do which reflect your rejection of the authority of Jesus in your life? Prior to receiving the Lord’s Supper it should be our practice to examine ourselves & confess those sins.
What are some of the things you do because you recognize the authority of Jesus in your life? Those things are not to our credit because they’re done by the grace of God, but we should be thanking the Holy Spirit for preparing & working those good deeds in & through us.
The Epiphany season highlights the revelation of Jesus as Savior to the world. The Gospel reading today continues the identification of Jesus as God’s own Son & the promised Messiah. It focused on Jesus as one who speaks & acts with divine authority. At the same time His authority also points to what He has come to accomplish.
The 1st miracle of Jesus recorded in Mark’s Gospel is an exorcism, making clear that Jesus has come to destroy sin & the power of the devil. In a sense, Jesus has invaded the devil’s territory, & the demon responds to the threat that Jesus represents. Christ’s teaching in the synagogue & His exorcism are testimonies of His authority & both are connected to His word.
Jesus speaks, He teaches, He commands. His words are authoritative in a manifest way. That is the Jesus you & I, & the whole world, are called to know. And that call comes from a personal love for each one of God’s creatures. Yahweh knows each of us personally in all our faults & failures yet loves us enough to die in our place.
In His death & resurrection Jesus was victorious for us, & He also gives us victory now through His powerful word – in our Baptism, in Absolution, in Holy Communion & in the Gospel itself. That Gospel is the means of destruction of the power of the devil just as at the same time it is indeed “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Do you know Jesus? I pray that you do, & that you accept His authority in & over
your life. And yet, our salvation does not depend upon our actions, or our knowing. Our salvation depends upon God’s knowing of us. If we reject that we are in grave danger. If we accept His knowing there is eternal hope & joy. Amen.
Praise the One who breaks the darkness with a liberating light; praise the One who frees the prisoners, turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, healing every dread disease, calming storms & feeding thousands with the very Bread of peace. Praise the One who blessed the children with a strong, yet gentle, word; praise the One who drove out demons with the piercing, two-edged sword. Praise the One who brings cool water to the desert’s burning sand; from this well comes living water, quenching thirst in every land. Let us praise the Word Incarnate, Christ who suffered in our place. Jesus died & rose victorious that we may know God by grace. Let us sing for joy & gladness, seeing what our God has done; let us praise the true Redeemer, praise the One who makes us one. Amen. LSB 849.
 Mark 8:33a
 Mark 1:27-28
Pastor Dean R. Poellet