The Power of Jesus
Every person can better understand the power of Jesus Christ by noticing the actions in this passage.
In U.S. Navel Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse. Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, "Light, bearing on the starboard bow."
"Is it steady or moving astern?" the captain called out.
The lookout replied, "Steady, Captain," which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, "Signal that ship: 'We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the signal, "Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees."
The captain said, "Send: "I'm a captain, change course twenty degrees.'"
"I'm a seaman second-class," came the reply. "You had better change course twenty degrees."
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, "Send: 'I'm a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'"
Back came the flashing light, "I'm a lighthouse."
We changed course.
Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 153.
This passage demonstrates the authority of Jesus Christ. We learn how important it is for us to follow Jesus through the actions he takes in this passage.
Action I. He teaches
A. When I was in college I learned that there were certain professors that I liked to avoid and there were others that I liked to take class with. I learned that some professors had a teaching style that I was able to learn a lot from them. Some of the professors really seemed to be very boring. It was hard to learn anything from them. It seems like the ones who were the most interesting were the ones who tried to keep things interesting. They were men and women who had some experience and they really seemed to know what they were talking about.
B. In v. 22 the people were amazed at Jesus Christ because when he taught it was as one with authority. In contrast they had received teaching from the teachers of the law. In some ways this is like my college experience. Some of the professors seemed to only know about teaching college and had very little knowledge of life beyond our campus. The teachers of the law were a group of people who had a reputation of telling people what they ought to be doing, but they failed to live these truths in their own lives. Clearly the people who listened to Jesus knew this, and they perceived that Jesus was different from the people who had been teaching them.
C. It can be exciting to listen to the teachings of someone who has something different. It can also be very bad. What one person is proposing as truth can really be something which is leading others down a wrong path. Rather than just following someone because they have something that is different and new, we need to listen to their teaching with a critical ear. Make sure that what they are teaching is the truth, rather than just something appealing.
D. Jesus was a man who had authority because he brought a message that was true. He did not alter the message of God. His message probably did not match what the religious leaders were teaching, but it did match what God was teaching. Jesus also had a level of genuineness that the religious leaders were lacking.
Action II. He is recognized
A. Last summer I had the chance to meet my favorite NASCAR driver. It was at an open house type of a thing he was hosting. I was look at things there and talking when I heard his voice behind me. The instant I heard his voice I knew it was him. I could recognize his voice because I had heard it before on the Television. We all have people we have never met before that we could recognize by their appearance, or maybe by their voice. For some reason these people have made an impact on us and we recognize them.
B. As Jesus was teaching in the Synagogue a man who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth?” The spirit recognized Jesus and knew of the significance of him. This was probably fear on the part of the spirit. He knew that Jesus had the authority to really upset his possession of this individual. He even asks the question, “Have you come to destroy us?” Jesus was a man who was able to do something no one else had been doing. It was certainly significant enough to cause the people and the demon to take notice.
C. Jesus is recognized as an authority in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical realm. It seems very likely that anyone who was addressed by an angel would want to take notice. The same might be true of an evil spirit. The respect will be different, but I believe most would have an appreciation for the power of that spirit. Now it is an evil spirit that is addressing Jesus, and he certainly understands the authority possessed by Jesus. When we realize how much respect a spirit has for Jesus it should cause us to take into account the authority we place in Jesus.
D. If an angel or a demon would get our attention, shouldn’t Jesus be even more likely to receive our attention. We marvel at the stories of angels speaking to humans in the Bible. Many people are extremely found of angels today. We should recognize that angels are created beings. Jesus is God in the flesh and he deserves even more of our attention.
Action III. He ordered
A. When a person joins the military they go through boot camp. The training and the trials those men and women go through is to teach them to respect and trust those who are in authority over them. If the trainee is taken into a crisis situation and a superior officers is giving them commands they will respond without hesitation and trust the command that has been given to them. That soldier has learned to respond to those who are in authority over them.
B. Jesus gives two commands to this spirit and the spirit obeys. First the spirit identifies Jesus as coming from God. We don’t know what the spirit might have done, but Jesus first commands the spirit to be silent. It was almost an automatic response. The spirit cannot do anything but obey what Jesus tells it to do. The next thing Jesus says is for the spirit to leave the man. The shaking and the shrieking seems to indicate that the spirit did just what Jesus said it should do.
C. By ourselves we have no authority to deal with spirits. Jesus was identified as the Holy one of God by this spirit. Jesus had authority because of who he was. We have authority when we are connected with God. It is not a result of who we are or what we have done. We have authority when we accept Jesus’ invitation to be his child.
Action IV. Spirits obeyed
A. Some of you like the Star Wars saga and you know that there are times when even the great Jedi warriors are overpowered and they are required to retreat. It seems that whenever they face a certain kind of robot they are not overpowered but they can’t win either. Those confrontations end in a draw. They recognize that the confrontation is one they cannot win. Sometimes people who are in conflict might recognize that they are overpowered and they just give up.
B. That seems to be the case with this demon. When Jesus gives the order to be quiet and come out, the demon shrieks and shakes the man violently and comes out. It is recognition on the part of the demon that he is powerless against Jesus. He is not able to stand against the authority of Jesus Christ. The actions are the result of the spirit surrendering. This was something this spirit was powerless to resist. It could do nothing but obey the command of Jesus.
C. Humans are very different from those in the spiritual realm. As humans we can choose to obey or not to obey. In our world this can be played out at various levels. Some people will always obey Jesus, some when it is convenient, and some will choose not to obey at all. The big difference is people have a choice. Spiritual beings do not have a choice. We stand apart from spiritual beings.
D. The message here is that we have a choice. We can choose to obey, and we can to not obey. God has loved us so much that he has given us this freedom. We are not in the same boat. The angels and the demons have to obey. We are not faced with the same requirement. Jesus came to this world as the son of God. He has unlimited authority. He gives us the freedom to make choices. So what is your choice? Will you choose to follow Jesus and the authority has possesses, or will you choose to follow your own path? We have been given great freedom in our world.
Jesus has great authority. That is obvious in the passage we have looked at today. How do we choose to respond to that authority?
Most of the time people like to be on the winning team. I would like to challenge you to follow the authority of Jesus Christ. Give him first place in your life. We live in a society where many verbally agree that Jesus has authority, but it does not show up in their actions. Make sure that Jesus ha authority in words and actions.