Fear VS Love

Mark 1.21-28

21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.??22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.??23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,??24and he cried out, ???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.?????25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ???Be silent, and come out of him!?????26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ???What is this? A new teaching???with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.?????28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

The issue that continues to come up in the Church???s understanding of this passage is that the demons did in fact confess that Jesus was the Holy One of God. ??That is a very serious and truthful confession. ??But it comes down to the way in which it was said that separates the person of faith from the devils of affliction. ??All of us are familiar with ???the way??? people say things. ??Tone is everything. ??Wars are started in relationships because someone said something the wrong way. ??It never matters as to whether or not it was true, it just boils down to how it was said. ??Politicians, as we are familiar with right now, can help or hurt their electoral chances with the way they say things to people. ??Lawyers have to give great attention the manner in which they speak because it can make or break their cases.

The same is true in this scene this morning. ??Jesus silences the demons from saying any more than they already had. ??Why? ??Why is Jesus silencing the demons from telling the truth? ??Because it was truth, but not truth in love.

The confession was true about who Jesus really is, but the confession lacked love, a trusting and sacrificing commitment that becomes an all too important component to leave out. ??What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 13.1???3 about life without love, ???If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ??And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. ??If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.???

Love is the missing ingredient here. ??The demons had no love for Jesus. ??They only possessed their own selfish desires. ??The truth in love means that we are putting the good of the other before ourselves, allowing love to set the truth free to minister and bless others. ??Here, the demons desired nothing of Jesus but only to patronize him, to trap him, to attempt to push him away with their words, ???What have you to do with us???? ??They were drawing a clear distinction between themselves and Jesus, a distinction that said they knew who he was but had no interest in putting real loving faith in him or trusting in him to be their Savior. ??Instead, they chose to make him their adversary.

Truth and faith can often times be found void of love and both are used all the time to get one???s own way and put their own agenda first. ??We know from Jesus??? 40 days in the desert that the devil desired that Jesus renounce his mission and worship him by quoting him scripture in order to trap him. ??But the devil???s quoting was not out of love but out of the selfish desire to control. ??When the truth of the scriptures is used in a self-serving way, they lose their power. ??But when the truth of the scriptures is spoken with love, a love that comes from God, a love that reveals God???s intention, it stands out among any self-serving confession like we see in the demons and becomes words of life, saving words, words of freedom.

In what might be the same or at least a similar story in Luke 4, Jesus is preaching in a synagogue where he later heals a man of a withered hand. ??But Jesus??? message to the people that day was, ???The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. ??He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord???s favor.??? ??In Mark, he does all of that in a powerful and physical way, freeing the man from the possession of the demon and restoring him back into society. ??Jesus??? desire to help the man through this miracle was an act of love.

But a quick warning: do not misinterpret Jesus??? use of miracles. ??His intention is not to ???WOW??? the crowds or to build popularity, but this event is used to build credibility toward his teaching. ??Everything Jesus does is meant to highlight his teaching. ??This is why the early Christians were called people of ???the way.??? ??Jesus calls himself in John ???the way, the truth, and the life,??? signifying that it is through following him and entering upon his way that people will find life with God. ??Jesus tells the disciples to follow him, that he will make them fishers of people, teaching them this new way to use their gifts and skills, as we???ve heard in the previous few Sundays. ??Jesus??? way is the way of love, taught with authority from above.

In contrast to this, the scribes that taught the people weren???t teaching with a divine authority backed by love but with a human authority, taking the law of Moses and expanding upon it to the point where the true meaning and message had been lost in translation. ??Jesus??? words stand out from among them because it served the people, not the teachers. ??His words came from above. ??His love and authority called the people out of the spiritual slumber created by the scribes and awakened them to the life-giving word of God that is actually Jesus himself.

Jesus is called the word of God in John chapter 1. ??He is the word made flesh, meaning in one sense that he embodies within himself the very life that God requires we live daily. ??But Jesus is also the word of God in that he is the word that God spoke when he spoke creation into being. ??As it says in Colossians 1.15???17, ???He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers???all things have been created through him and for him. ??He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.???

It is for this reason that the demons were able to say that Jesus was the Holy One of God, but because that is who he is and they do not have love, they were afraid, fearful that he might destroy them. ??They know the extent of his power and that he has authority over all things. ??But the question this morning is this, ???Do YOU know that???? ??Do you fear God and his power or do you trust God and his power, love him and put him first, seeking to serve him and only him? ??The demons??? desire was to serve themselves and their own will, torturing those weak in the flesh and in the faith. ??But what is your desire? ??Can you recognize this morning that Jesus is the Holy One of God, sent to proclaim release from the sin that creates fear in your life? ??And then understand that love is the proper response to God, love because he is the one who has sent his son to free you, to forgive you, to bring into a relationship that you were created to have? ??Will love empower you as God???s children to live out the way and teachings of Christ?

Our purpose in this life is to re-capture that love-
affair that God desired of his children in the garden of Eden, and through Jesus Christ we can enter that garden once again, returning home to our Father who loves us. ??Let us pray…
_______

Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church

www.newlibertyumc.org

Devotional Blog – http://devoblog.posterous.com

Sent from Whit's iPad??

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