Lectionary Year B
February 2, 2003

Mark 1:21-28
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) We could attempt to bring some comfort, encouragement, peace and hope to the auditors of a sermon from this text. It seems to reveal a God whose authority provides good news for a troubling situation/time.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) This sermon gets preached in a right substantial Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation in a county seat community on Interstate 64 half way between Kentucky's two largest cities, Lexington and Louisville. They customarily get outstanding Biblical expositions from this pulpit, excellent music from a full choir loft and a most talented (pipe) organist, exciting local ecumenical ministries, education and much good and spiritually healthy fellowship. Over a hundred persons attend worship weekly.

C. Contemporary Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this early draft, "God's Authority and What It Does".

Introduction Much of what amazes, astonishes and astounds us seems to be about bad/evil stuff. Like current congressional matters bewilder us, at best. And, threats of war and Homeland Security baffle us. However, this passage tells more about divine authority that is good.

I. God's Authority is Recognizable

A. The unclean/defiled spirit recognized Jesus and His power. The bystanders also recognized God's authority in His teaching and exorcism. God's powerful authority is in both the created/ordered nature (Romans 9:21, metaphor) and the/our spiritual world, too.

B. God's authority is so mysterious, even incomprehensible. Divine authority is new and different from the long silent prophets', the teachers' of the Jewish Law and from the secular leaders' (Romans 13:1 and I Peter 2:13-17), as well.

II. God Gives Authority

A. First, God gives divine authority to Jesus (Matthew 28:18), who uses it to teach effectively and to heal miraculously and, of course, to forgive sin (Mark 2:10).

B. And, God even gives some authority as ability/power to Satan, albeit, limited and soon Satan looses it altogether when his existence is ended as Jesus says in Luke 10:18.

C. And to us, as well, Jesus gives (John 1:12) power/authority, which we are to use responsibly, for and with building up others (II Corinthians 10:8 and 13:10). Also, I Corinthians 8:1-13 is "one of Paul's classics for discipleship under Christ's authority."

III. We Can Share God's Authority With Others

A. Even as it is beyond our comprehending, we can share God's gifts with others. All of God's generous gifts tend to surpass our understanding. Yet, they are real and abundant.

B. Jesus gives His authority to His disciples to use responsibly - see Matthew 10:1. We could go and do likewise, could we not, with God's help?

C. Divine authority spread all over the then know world in the first century. Dare we attempt to spread it globally in our times? If we want peace, we realize it comes to us from God in and through Jesus Christ and God's Spirit. Therewith we find peace.

Jesus' authority is recognizable if incomprehensible. J. B. Phillips' Ring of Truth describes Jesus' teaching as having such an effect on the ears of those attending to what He said. How does God's shared authority ring in our ears this day?

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