4th Sunday After Epiphany
January 31st, 2021icon-download-pdf-wp

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Lesson: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm: Psalm 1

CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. Gary Witkop
(originally published in 2012)

Star Trek opened with a line that said the crew of the Enterprise would “Boldly go where no man had gone before.” This text shows Jesus going boldly into territory both familiar and unfamiliar. It goes on and shows us that as Christian pastors, we should be going boldly into our work as well. Jesus was in his adopted home Synagogue at Capernaum, which was familiar ground for him, but he goes into the ministry of preaching the gospel boldly and then goes one step further in boldness and casts out a demon who was brought to reveal himself because of the boldness of his preaching.

That Jesus was bold in his preaching or teaching is also shown in the amazement of those who heard him. They said that he taught differently than the way the scribes and other leaders taught, he taught “as one having authority.” We need to teach and preach as one having authority as well, not the same authority as Christ had, but since he is in our hearts and we walk by the Spirit, we do have some of that authority in us to boldly proclaim the message of the gospel.

As preachers and teachers of the gospel it is easy to feel overwhelmed by that message and take the easier path of the scribes who instead of proclaiming the message boldly themselves were content to quote what others said. They didn’t want to make a mistake or say something one of their colleagues would take issue with so they would take the safe path and simply repeat what others had said. That is done in a lot of preaching today as well, preachers hiding behind the words of others instead of teaching in the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is for that reason that Paul said in Ephesians 6:19-20 “and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Boldly go where no man has gone before by preaching Christ and him crucified!

A large part of this text deals with Jesus and his handling of the demon possessed man. God has power over everything, even evil. When evil challenges God, God wins. Jesus did not go out looking for an encounter with evil, and neither should we, but when evil confronted Jesus he dealt with it. In our society evil is often ignored or assumed to be unreal, but evil is real and we will face evil in ministry. We need to know evil is there and be prepared to boldly deal with evil.

What was the goal of Jesus in dealing with the demon possessed man? It was not to simply kick him out of the synagogue, but to set him free from his terrible situation. That should be our goal too, to set people free from sin and evil. Preach the word boldly and set people free. It is interesting that the scribes with their weak messages and hiding behind what others said didn’t have to deal with this man. When we get out from behind our safe zones we will begin to see people set free. Unless we deal with the boldness and authority of Christ, people will be comfortable in their sin, even in the midst of our churches. This man had been sitting comfortably for years in a synagogue whose leaders cowered in the safety of what others said or thought.

As Lutherans we should know this better than anyone for we believe in the power of God’s word. Preach the word and let God’s word do its work in the hearts of people. God’s word will not go forth without accomplishing the work for which God sent it! Trust in the power of God’s word, not in man’s words.

Another part of this text for our churches is that Jesus was a lay person and he was teaching in the Synagogue. Lay work in our churches must happen. We must make room for the use of lay people in as many areas of ministry as God leads lay people into. This text can be part of a call to lay involvement in the church. This is especially true as it follows the previous verses which are the calling of his disciples. The church needs willing workers and most of them will be lay people.

Sorry if you were looking for quotes from this writer or that writer, but in light of what this text says about the way the scribes did that and how Jesus was different, I just couldn’t. Quote God, his word has real power, mine doesn’t.

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Third Sunday after Epiphany