Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 1:21-28
Date: January 31st, 2021; Epiphany 4; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- During the time I was living with my Grandmother while going to school in Edmonton – her home became infested with termites.
- Not just a few of these little guys, but millions of them had taken up residence in the walls and flooring of her house.
- We would find little piles of sawdust on the floors from the termites having lunch on the walls.
- This was a major problem – left alone, her entire home could have been destroyed and turned into a big pile of dust!
- There was only one way that it could be dealt with—and it had to be dealt with quickly—so that no more damage was caused.
- And the only way to do this was to call in the big guns – the fumigators.
- This was the only way that this serious problem of termite infestation could be dealt with.
- Have you ever seen how a fumigator works? This is no kidding around!
- The building is quarantined – and there are air pumps, hoses, and funny looking protective gear.
- All of the vents in the house, and other areas where air can escape, are plugged up, and they pump fumigant into the house – a harsh chemical that “kills bugs dead” as one company’s slogan puts it.
- It was quite an interesting process to see – and it was very effective!
- In our Gospel lesson for this morning we heard of a man in the synagogue where Jesus was teaching who was possessed by a demon.
- During Jesus’ sermon, the demon caused the man to burst 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.”
- This is scary stuff! Something right out of the movies!
- But this demon is no match for Jesus. Not even close!
- Jesus said, “Be silent, and come out of him!” - and by the powerful Word of God the demon is cast out – “convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice”.
- Jesus was like the fumigator and his Word was the fumigant that drove the demon out of this man!
- Everyone present was amazed! “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” they marveled.
- They are right. Jesus acts with complete authority with his Word.
- We see this throughout his ministry on earth! He speaks and calms a storm; He speaks and turns water into wine; He speaks and demons are cast out.
- He speaks and sins are forgiven – including your sins!
- He speaks with authority because he is the authority! He is God!
- And his Word acts like a fumigant to sin and evil!
- What do you have residing in your heart and life that needs to be fumigated?
- What sins do you continually fall into? What temptations do you find alluring, even though you know they are against God’s will?
- What grudge are you holding, what anger inside of you is eating away at your soul – like termites in a wall?
- What is infesting your relationship with God?
- We are all infested. We were all born with this infestation of sin in our lives.
- And this infestation of sin shows itself in our lives in many ways – as we put our desires before God’s, as we cheat and lie, as we say hurtful things about others and gossip, as we are lustful, as we are filled with jealousy, anger, and selfishness.
- This infestation of sin shows itself in our lives in many ways and it causes such a mess in our lives and it ultimately leads to our sin.
- We all have a major problem - we are infested with sin and death and we need help.
- And there is only One way that this problem can be dealt with - by our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is the authoritative Word!
- Only Jesus can act as the fumigant to our sin, to death, and to the devil!
- Jesus entered this infested world, full of sin and death, to save us.
- He did this to provide us with the fumigant that we desperately need to be saved.
- And we receive this fumigant through his Word and Sacraments in his church.
- God’s Word, his promise of forgiveness and salvation earned on the cross by Jesus – “kills sin dead” and gives the gift of eternal life.
- Jesus spoke with authority to the evil spirit that infested the man in the synagogue and it was cast out.
- Today, Jesus continues to speak with authority to the sin that infests us and he casts it out - and he dwells within us.
- But like termites, sin is pesky and tricky.
- It is a constant battle to keep termites and other pests out - and so it is with sin.
- We too must be engaged in constant battle with the evil that desires to destroy us and our relationship with God.
- Looking into the mirror of God’s Law we can see that there are “cracks” that allow sin to enter our lives.
- So we too must keep applying regular doses of God’s Word and Sacraments to fight off these evil forces.
- We do this through daily repentance and by remembering our Baptism.
Through being in God’s Word.
- Through receiving his true body and blood.
- By God’s grace, he has provided us with everything we need for our protection.
- He has given us each other – fellow believers (the body of Christ) - to support and encourage one another. To share each other’s burdens. To rejoice together in times of celebration.
- He invites us to turn to him in prayer through which he promises to hear us and he promises to respond in the best way for us.
- So, now we joyfully live as God’s people (those who have been fumigated of our sin) by loving and serving those God has placed in our lives.
- As we love and serve others, as we proclaim his powerful saving Word - the fumigant of God’s love, peace, and salvation in Christ Jesus kills sin dead and gives everlasting life. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.