Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sermon for 3 February 2013, Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
St. Luke 4:31-44
What Is This Word?
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 03 February 2013
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

About the Cover: We can’t tell God what He has to do. But He is free to tell us what He has to do, as He does in today’s Gospel. Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God.” Jesus has good news that He must deliver far and wide—the good news of who He is and the gift of the Kingdom He has come to bring.
The time had fully come for Jesus to go home and preach and announce the coming of the age of salvation. That was our Gospel last week. The Messiah was there, at Nazareth, beginning His ministry. But it was not time for Jesus to die. The people were not able to throw this “disappointing” native son off a cliff. He has more preaching, teaching, and healing to do. So He simply walks through the crowd to safety. And He was soon on His way back to Capernaum. The people of Nazareth would have to wait until they heard new reports of good news about the Miracle Worker, Jesus.
Jesus, the Great Teacher and Miracle Worker, continues His teaching and healing. The teaching is our down payment on salvation. That is our possession here and now in 2013. The accounts of healing in the Gospel according to St. Luke are a foretaste of the new creation that has begun in Christ. This is the new creation that has already begun in you who are baptized.
We know another crowd came for Jesus. It was on the night in which He was betrayed. He would not walk away through that crowd. No, not that time. The Messiah that Isaiah foretold was a suffering servant who would be crucified after all of His preaching, teaching, and healing. Jesus did not walk through the crowd, but He did walk through death and conquered it, so that death is no longer something that the Christian must fear. He who did many miracles and raised the dead—He Himself was raised. He gave us His sacrament of the Altar to proclaim His death until He comes. Let us do that now. And let us also proclaim that He who once was dead now lives. And because He lives, when He comes, we will rise and live as well.
Today, Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God.”
What is that good news? It is the good news of who He is and the gift of the Kingdom He has come to bring.
Jesus’ teaching has authority. We take it for granted that an author has ownership over his or her writing. Intellectual property can be very valuable. Plagiarizing is stealing, plain and simple, with a © symbol printed or not. Copyrights can be registered with a government for additional legal protection. Jesus’ teaching has authority. The word “author” is part of the word authority. Jesus is the author of creation. His word creates. His word renews. His word for you restores. His promises are true.
Back at Capernaum’s synagogue, the people were amazed that Jesus’ teaching had the authority of God Himself. And then they were further amazed after Jesus exorcised a demon in their midst: “What is this word?” They asked. “For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out!” Indeed. Such is the power of the Word of God. Such is the authority of the Word in the flesh who dwells among us.
Jesus has authority over unclean spirits, otherwise known as demons. They know who He actually is, the Holy One of God. Jesus wants us to believe in Him by faith and not by sight, so He silences the supernatural witness of the allies of our old evil foe. There will be a day when all must confess the truth about Jesus, whether they have faith or not.
Jesus has authority over sickness. This should not surprise us because our Lord is the Creator. For without Him nothing was made that has been made. Yet, Jesus’ authority over this world after creation and His caring concern for us and all things would be surprising to those called the Deists. Deists, like Thomas Jefferson, had no problem with a divine creation. The beliefs of the Deists could not confess a God who did anything more than make the world, like a watch, wound it up, and let it run. Jesus’ authority over sickness, like that of the illness of Peter’s mother-in-law, distinguishes Biblical Christianity from other religions that speak of a generic, benevolent, but distant and seemingly powerless so-called “god.”
It seems there is something to offend or challenge everyone in today’s text. Roman Catholics will be uncomfortable with the idea of Peter having a mother-in-law. That Peter was married undermines the narrative of the necessity of an unmarried Roman clergy and the need for a Pope in the first place. We have Christ and His Word. That is more than enough for us and is far less confusing than the contradictory teachings of popes and church conventions.
As the sun began to set, Jesus had the opportunity to heal even more people. Demons confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. Because they knew He was the Christ, He would not allow them to speak, as before.
Those present there in Capernaum, the city’s synagogue, and the desolate place near Capernaum so rejoiced to hear Jesus that they didn’t want to leave. They didn’t want Him to leave them. Jesus responds: I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” There are other activities going on in our world today. Would that the world were as excited and hungry for the good news of the kingdom of God!
Jesus not only proclaims God’s good news. He IS God’s good news. This congregation is here because of that good news. You are here this morning to receive that good news. We are also gathered together by our Lord so that we may go forth from here and share that good news. That is the mission and ministry of Immanuel Lutheran Church and Martin Luther Grammar School.
We are given to care for one another in our times of need, to speak God’s Word with His authority, to care for the sick, to visit the imprisoned and home-bound, to share the good news of the kingdom of God. Our short Epiphany season wraps up next week with the Transfiguration of our Lord before we head into Lent. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! 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.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.