Extra! Extra! - Read All About It! - Wellington First Assembly

Wellington First Assembly

326 W Botkin Lane, Wellington Kansas ........Family Faith Lessons - 9:30 AM........ Sunday Worship - 10:30 AM

Breaking

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Extra! Extra! - Read All About It!

EXTRA, EXTRA!  Read all about it! 

This was the cry of the local newsboy hawking newspapers on the street corner with late-breaking developments.  Special news editions were rare.  What it took to create the typeset, reload the ink, and rapidly mass produce a new cover sheet cost a lot of money – but could mean a greater market share if the news was quickly and accurately delivered in today’s video-driven age, we could substitute the term – BREAKING NEWS NOW!  We might even get a chime on our smart device with a twitter alert.






Back in the days where newspapers ruled, my afterschool paper routes covered about 4 walking miles.  And on this day, there was breaking news.  The page above the fold had been rapidly changed, the papers dropped off later than usual, and the newsprint faintly warm to the touch.  Extra, Extra.  I still have that headline, neatly folded up in a box of memories from my high school days, exactly 32 years ago today.  Because on that Tuesday, January 28th, a tragedy struck, the powerful explosion ripping through the space shuttle Challenger, forever altering the course of families lives and the entire engineering world of NASA.  It didn’t take long for word to race across the country and the world what happened.

In our text today, we see another explosion take place.  A head to head conflict if you will.  Two cosmic forces heading straight into a showdown in a tiny local synagogue.  Please stand with me as you are able as we read together form Mark 1:21-28:

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 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.” 25 But 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. 27 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, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Today, we continue our series on Jesus, Man of Mystery. 
We will begin by introducing the mystery of the day.  The last few weeks, we’ve seen money that doesn’t burn and overflowing foam when two simple things are mixed together.  In my hand, I have a 4 x 6 notecard.  Without using another notecard, changing its mass, or altering its surface area – can you fit that card around your body?  The answer is simple.  It’s impossible. Can’t be done.  No matter what anyone says.  If there is a way, it’s a total mystery. 

We have been looking at the first chapter of Marks gospel, where he is quickly revealing to us, the readers, who exactly this Jesus is and why He is so important to matter in our lives.  The rumor mills had done their work – people knew the name and tidbits of the story – this carpenter was a mystery.  It was Marks duty to tell us why He mattered.  If you have missed the previous messages, let me recap.  In the first message, we looked at how God revealed the plan of redemption by claiming Jesus as the Messiah during the baptism of John, the Baptist.  John hears it, a few others recognize the signs in the heavens and everyone wonders who this Jesus is.  Next, we looked at Jesus calling together a band of misfits to form his closest group of disciples and embark on an urgent mission – which he doesn’t really tell them what it’s going to even be yet.  And in this passage, Jesus meddles even more.  He had started on the outskirts at the Jordan river, collected his disciples at the Sea of Galilee, but now he enters the heart of the Jewish tradition – the synagogue.

The synagogue leaders, comprised of the elders of the community, did not just let anyone that stopped by speak.  They invited Jesus in.  This probably was not the first time the Jesus had been to read the scripture from the Torah.  In the tradition of that day, the process was pretty straightforward.  The scribes maintained the supplemental readings and responses that went along with the reading.  It was a pretty simple task.  You just read and give the answers that had always been given.
Yet on this day, Jesus broke with tradition.  He had been released to begin his mission that would once and for all defeat the evil forces in the world and provide redemption to everyone who follows Him.  What others thought would be impossible, he would show could be done.  Jesus would demonstrate his authority in spoken word and deed.  While suspicions of his identity may have been raised at his baptism, it was confirmed that day.  Extra, Extra – Read All About It.  Jesus was a mystery.  People who grew up with him, thought they knew who he was, but he was turning out to be a man of surprises.  There is only one way to solve a mystery like Jesus.  By getting to know him.  And this all begins when we take that first step and acknowledge his identity as the Holy One, the Promised Messiah, the Divine Son of God.  How do we do this?



 1) We acknowledge the identity and authority of Jesus when we listen to his teaching.

It all started in the synagogue – in a gathering of like-minded people seeking the Truth.  In an assembly where honor and glory was being given to God.  In a meeting where people testified to God’s work in their history. 

If you want to know who Jesus is – get around people who know Him, who seek him, and are still learning from Him.  If you think you know everything there is to know about Jesus – let me tell you – you have only scratched the surface.  Who can plumb the depths of God?  His wisdom is deeper than the oceans, wider than the prairie, higher than the sky.  If we want to know God, we have to listen to him.

There is a reason why the author of Hebrews commands the church to “forsake not the assembling together.”  The wisdom of God is revealed in the interactions of his people.  We sharpen each other, warts and all.  The person who thinks they can see God and live a Godly live without the regular inflow of grounded teaching with fellow believers is fooling themselves. They’ve created their own mirror.  Their religion begins to reflect their personal preferences.  There is a reason why I invite missionaries from around the world and guests from different backgrounds to share from this pulpit.  It’s not just to inspire us for missions or give us a geographical or cultural background of an area we might never go.  It’s for us to see the whole picture of what God is doing in this world, often times in a way that might not be my preferred worship style or western methodology.  The more we interact with fellow believers from different life backgrounds, the greater we will see the true identity and mission of Jesus Christ.

There is something unique about the teaching of Jesus.  The people in the synagogue recognized it immediately.  He taught the same old stuff with a new emphasis.  When he spoke, his words were alive.  The listeners commented that he spoke with Authority.

By all rights, the scribes and leaders had authority.  They had the power to determine judgments, to settle disputes, to delegate tasks.  What made the authority of Christ different?  Because Jesus spoke as the Word.  He is the Living Word, the Breathing Scripture.  Jesus is the accepted source of information.  He wasn’t just reading from a source – He is the source.  Jesus has authority because he is the author.  Again, the writer of Hebrews (12:25) reminds us that Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  When we hear the words of the author, we recognize and acknowledge who he is.



2) We acknowledge the authority and identity of Jesus when we recognize his plan for our existence.

Things didn’t exactly go according to plan on that Sabbath day that Jesus spoke in Capernaum.  At least not the plan that the scribes had carefully set out.  Evidently Jesus had other plans.  Folks, it’s OK when God interrupts your plans.  I’m a firm believer in seeking God and doing strategic planning – but even then, God still reserves the right to surprise me and you!

There is not much description of this man in the synagogue.  We don’t know much about him.  Don’t know his profession, his hair color, his height or weight, his profession.  This is about as generic of a description as you can get.  All we do know is that he was part of the local community who had allowed an evil spirit to work inside his heart.  He probably went to synagogue because you were expected to in that culture – but his life certainly did not reflect the teachings of Moses.  To put it bluntly, he was not fulfilling the plan of God on his life up to that point.

Let me be clear about something.  First, if you have acknowledged Jesus Christ as your Savior and welcomed the power of the Holy Spirit to work in your life, you can NOT have evil spirits taking up residence in your heart.  The Holy Spirit and evil spirits don’t co-exist.  Do we still struggle with sin?  Absolutely.  While the battle has been won on Calvary, we live in an age where the fullness has not yet come.  Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit for exactly that reason!

Nor does everyone who has not acknowledged Christ in their heart have a spiritually demonic influence upon them.  A sinful influence yes, an unredeemed influence, sure – but not a demonic one.
But in this case, it is clear.  For whatever reasons, this young man, whom Jesus loved and cared for, was not physically or mentally ill, but had allowed demonic influences to enter his life and needed a spiritual healing from someone who had the authoritative advantage.  Two things happened here.  First, the demon recognized the plan that Jesus had for its existence.  If you want to read more about that plan, just look up the Lake of Fire.  There is no room in eternity for a vanquished Satan and his minions.  Second, when Jesus commanded the demon to literally shut up – His words removed any Satanic bondage that was on that man – and for the first time, that man could recognize and embrace the plan that God had for his life.


3) We acknowledge the authority and identity of Jesus when we give him space to work.

Jesus was given space to work.  There are times when we want to control everything.  We say, "Jesus have this part over there. Work on that aspect of my life now, but not this other one."  Robert Boyd Munger, an ordained Presbyterian minister, wrote the classic My Heart – Christs Home.  In this devotional meditation, he uses the analogy of many rooms of our house similar to many aspects of our lifestyle.  Too many times, we allow Christ total control in most parts, but we reject his discipleship in another.  The crux of this teaching is that we must give Jesus access to all parts of our thoughts and actions, including the hidden areas, the secret places.

When Jesus spoke, and breathed the authoritative Word of God in that synagogue that day, his power cut through the space and entered deeply into all the listeners.  The young man’s bondage was forever broken.  Fresh understandings of who Jesus is and what he would do soaked into the hearts and minds of the regular attendees and Christ’s disciples.

Jesus had been invited into that synagogue.  At this point in his career, he was not driven out.  He was given the space to work his grace.  When we give Him time and space in our schedules, in our needs, in our longings, in our shortcomings, in our sin, in our responsibilities, Jesus can work the same in us.  When my boss comes into my work space and asks to take over for a moment, out of respect for their authority (and because I want to keep my job!) I give them the time they need.  When Jesus invades our space, our response must be – Do whatever you need to do until it’s finished.


4) Finally, we acknowledge the authority and identity of Jesus when we witness his power.

The word witness has two connotations, that are sometimes separated.  It can define a person who saw something occur.  But it’s meaning is made more complete when it is a person who not only saw what occurred but testified to what they saw.  If you see something, but never say anything – are you a true witness?
The people in the synagogue that day saw the power of Jesus Christ.  They heard Jesus tell the demon to be quiet as Jesus refused to accept acknowledgment from an evil spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who will bear witness.  But they did more than see.  They spoke.  They wondered.  Imagine the dinner conversation that night.  A new cover sheet for the newspaper was spoken that night.  Extra, Extra.  Jesus is a man with authority.  He may even be the Messiah. Who is this mystery man?

When Jesus makes a radical statement in our live, we can not remain silent.  This passage serves as the springboard to the rest of Mark’s gospel.  We, the church, are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, witnesses to what Jesus has done in our lives, witnesses to what Jesus can do in other’s lives.  The same authority that Jesus exhibited that day has been given to you and me.  When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, we can walk in the fulness of Christ’s identity and with his full authority.  We are to be His witnesses.

So, what can we walk away with today?  Hope.  New Dreams.  A Refreshed Spirit.  A Vibrant Life.



REMEMBER THIS

Jesus has the power and authority to change our lives by making the impossible, possible.
Many of you probably haven’t figured out how to make that 4x6 card go around your entire body – Obviously because it’s impossible.

But when we give Jesus the authority to move in our lives and make simple changes, anything is possible.  Jesus created you in his image.  He has no intent to destroy you.  What he made in you is good, but it may have been corrupted or may not be in the form it needs to be for him to accomplish his work in you.  He may need to make a few cuts here and there. 

And when he is finished, we are still all there.  But we are more flexible, more resilient, and filled with joy.  When he is done, we can do what we never thought we could before.
The actions of Jesus verify his words.  The identity of Jesus is confirmed not just through his authoritative declaration of scripture, but through his authoritative declaration over his creation.  Jesus did not spend a lot of time arguing who he was – he spent time acting in the world bringing it to completeness, encouraging us to believe the impossible

Let me close with this.



THINK THIS THROUGH

Do our actions reveal Christ to the world by acting in a way that creates space, compels, and opens others to believe the impossible?

I can argue until I am blue in the face that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  But unless I give Jesus space to work in my life and allow the Holy Spirit to compel others to move towards Christ, my appeals to scripture are only semi-valid.  Paul would write in 1 Corinthians it would sound like clanging symbols.  Our desire is to see others enjoy the freedom that living in Christ brings.  Our hope is to allow others to see the impossible happen.  My prayer is that this church creates opportunities through our daily lives to allow others to see Jesus for who he really is.  I want to be a living newspaper for Jesus.  Extra, Extra, Read All About it.

Shall we pray.