Mark 1:21-28 “Casting Out Evil” 2-1-15                      

In a large town, 2 merchants owned stores across the street from each other.

They were fierce competitors in business and struggled to outdo each other.

The sole method each man had of determining the success of his business was not based on daily profit, but on how much more business he had done than his competitor.

If a customer made a purchase at the store on one merchant, the shop owner would taunt his competitor when the sale was complete, and visa versa.

The rivalry grew with each passing year.

God grew tired of this fierce competition.

One day God sent an angel to one of the merchants with an offer.

The angel said: “The Lord has chosen to give you a great gift.”

“Whatever you desire, you will receive.”

Ask for riches, long life, healthy children, security…and the wish is yours!”

The angel added this caution: “There is one stipulation. Whatever you receive, your competitor will get twice as much.

If you ask for 1000 gold coins, he will get 2000 gold coins.

If you ask to become famous, he will be twice as famous.

If you ask for a new house, he will get 2 new houses.”

The merchant thought for a moment.

He asked, “You will give me anything I ask for?”

The angel nodded.

The man’s face darkened. “I ask that you strike me blind in one eye.”

 

This story is not intended to be funny.

This story is intended to be shocking.

Its intent is to illustrate the true source of evil: human heart.

Evil is not someone else’s problem: it is the problem of our own hearts.

Too often we see evil as someone else’s problem: it belongs in the realm of international politics, television police dramas, or the local drug dealers.

We need to realize that evil is found in the human heart: universal problem.

That’s the BAD NEWS: we are all infected with the power of evil.

We are all sinners: capable of the worst sins against others and ourselves.

Our scripture lesson offers us GOOD NEWS.

The scene is quite a familiar one: Jesus was teaching in the synagogue.

It was very much like what we do every Sunday morning.

Jesus got up in front of the congregation and read the Scriptures.

He read from the Torah, Prophets, and the Psalter.

He then interpreted these documents and provided a sermon.

We follow his pattern even today. That is why we do the things we do.

The crowds were amazed at him: “he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

He did not give the same boring lectures like all the other rabbis.

He did not put everyone asleep.

He did not invite you to count the ceiling tiles on the ceiling.

He taught with authority: Jesus brought a fresh new spirit to the pulpit.

Jesus is the Messiah: full of God’s power and wisdom.

The mountain top experience was rudely interrupted: a man with an evil spirit, cried out, “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

Have you come to destroy us?”

It might be shocking to you: a man with an evil spirit was in the synagogue.

Mark uses this story to instruct us of a very significant truth.

Mark affirms that Jesus of Nazareth was a powerful teacher: he brought a new word to this world; he proclaims the Messianic Word; the Good news!

But he is far more than that: as Messiah he has another mission.

JESUS’ MISSION: CONQUER EVIL IN THE HUMAN HEART.

Mark uses the words of the evil spirit to teach us about Jesus’ mission.

1.     “HAVE YOU COME TO DESTROY US?”

The Greek grammar suggests that this is not really a question at all.

It is more of a statement of fact: “you have come to destroy us.”

Jesus’ mission is to destroy evil spirits in the human hearts.

Jesus’ death on the cross achieved this: overcoming the power of sin/death.

2.     “Us”

Notice that the evil spirit speaks collectively: You have come to destroy us.

He is not just speaking of Jesus’ power over this one specific evil spirit, but of Jesus’ power over all evil spirits.

The evil spirit recognizes that Jesus Christ has power over all evil spirits.

3.     “I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, THE HOLY ONE OF GOD!”

“HOLY ONE OF GOD”= Messiah, Anointed One, Christ, Savior.

This is the title of Jesus’ role as Savior of the world.

He is more than a great rabbi, teacher with authority, great prophet.

He is Messiah: his mission is to deliver us from evil/ within and without.

He answers our daily prayers: “deliver us from evil.”

He is the Messiah who binds up the strong man (Satan/Devil/demon).

Mark 3:27, Jesus said: “No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man.”

Jesus has entered this world: the house of Satan.

He has bound up Satan and stolen his captives out of Satan’s control.

He has set us free from evil: made us a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Jesus reveals his power: “Be quiet, Come out of him!”

The evil spirit shrieked in agony and came out of the man!

This is what Jesus has done for every one of us: HE CAST OUT EVIL.

Martin Luther captures this victory in his famous hymn: UMH #110

Read verses 1, 2, 3, 4.

Sometimes we miss the deep theological significance of our great hymns.

We get so wrapped up in the music, the familiar melody, the comforting rhythm, and the poetic meter.

Luther declares this truth: Jesus came to cast out evil.

This is the Christian journey: he continues to cast out evil.

Jesus started this in you before you were even aware of it:

                        When you were baptized;

                        When you first walked to the altar;

                        When you prayed the sinners’ prayer;

                        When you attended Sunday school;

                        When you received Holy Communion;

                        When you went to an Emmaus weekend;

Or another spiritual life retreat.

Jesus wants to continue the process today: we receive God’s Spirit again.

As we come to receive Holy Communion: ask God to cast out evil.