Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 111: Deuteronomy 18:15-20: 1st Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28.

Let us praise the Lord God for Fulfilling His promises to us. Psalm 111

Children’s chat: Teaching from the Lord.”

Grace, mercy and peace… Children, do you know that Jesus is a teacher? Do you know that Jesus taught us to pray to His Father in Heaven? God the Father is Jesus Father and also our creator. Because of Jesus, He is our Father also.  Can you say the Lord’s prayer- Our Father with me? Amen.

Adult Sermon: “Authoritative Divine Teaching.”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dearly beloved in Christ, in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20 we hear Moses, the first prophet, define the role of the true prophet.  A prophet is one raised “up for you from among your own kindred” who speaks the words God has put in his/her mouth.   The prophet “shall tell them all that I [God] command.”  A prophet is NOT a person who “practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead” (DT 18: 10 – 11).  These people are “an abomination to the LORD” (DT 18: 12).  A prophet is one whose words have been tested over time and found to be true.   Moses ends his prophet’s job description with two warnings; one for us and one for the prophet.  For those of us who hear the prophet, we better listen and act accordingly because we will have to answer to God.  And the prophet better make sure that he/she speaks as God directs or else…. That’s real law stuff!

Thousands of years later, Jesus of Nazareth, a humble carpenter, walked into the synagogue in Capernaum and astounded the people present with his authoritative teaching (Mark 1: 21 – 28).    Not only did Jesus teach with authority, he acted with authority.  When confronted by a man with “an unclean spirit,” Jesus merely spoke a few words, “Quiet! Come out of him!” And the unclean spirit was gone.  Jesus’ powerful words had the ring of authority and truth and his acts of healing affirmed his authority and gave him a degree of credibility words alone could not achieve.  St. John tells us in his gospel that Jesus is God’s word incarnate, “And the Word became flesh – and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14).  And, St. John reminds us that although “the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1: 17).

Saints, the word of God as spoken to us through Jesus Christ, has withstood the test of time. Jesus gave all of us the power of that prophetic truth.   As baptized Christians, each one of us is a witness to that truth.  And each one of us is authorized to speak the truth to any who will hear it.  And this is the truth: Jesus can make the unclean clean; the sinful holy; the outcast a member of the community, the haughty humble, the horrible among the hallowed. All of this is ushering the kingdom of God… the Kingdom of love, grace, forgiveness, compassion mercy and righteousness. It is the Holy Kingdom of God that we are invited to live within for Christ’s sake.

Let us pray: Faithful God, Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, spoke the truth with authority, and You confirmed his teaching by wondrous deeds. Make us holy so that by word and deed we may proclaim his name and bear witness to your healing power and presence. All this we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. AMEN

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