February 9, 2020 - Mark 5:1-20: Power in the Name of Jesus
As we come now to the word of God, let's go to our God and prayer asking for the spirits illumination on the word. Almost holy God. We come to you we call upon your name knowing that you give us your word and in your word. We may know the Living Word Jesus Christ. So by your spirit open our years together in our eyes to see dark our hearts to be freed by the power of your name to live in Holiness and righteousness all of our days. We cling to Jesus Christ to his Saving Grace on the cross and we trust in the power of your spirit working within us to continually work in us, even when we don't know it even when we can't feel it that you are working good in us we give you. Thanks and praise for your word in Jesus Christ. Amen. A scripture for today comes from the gospel of Mark.
chapter 5 starting with verse 1
starting with verse 1. Can you go back to first one there? There we go. They went across the lake. This is Jesus and his disciples went across the lake to the region of the gerasenes when Jesus got out of the boat a man with an empty or Spirit came from the tombs to meet him this man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore. Not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet and no one was strong enough to subdue him night and day among the tune. He would and on the Hills you would cry out and cut himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. You shouted at the top of his voice. What do you want with me? Jesus Son of God. Most high the most high God and God's name. Don't torture me. For Jesus had said to him come out of this man you in pure spirit. And then Jesus asked him. What is your name? My name is Legion you applied for we are many. And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding on a nearby Hillside in the demons bag. Did Jesus send us among the pigs allow us to go into them. He gave them permission and the impure Spirits came out and went into the pigs the heard about 2,000 and number rushed down the Steep Bank into the lake and were drowned and those tending to pigs ran off and reported this in the town and the countryside and people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man we've been possessed by demons sitting there in his right dressed and in his right mind and they were afraid those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs as well and then people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him but said go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell at the decapolis how much Jesus had done for him and the people were amazed. This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
For Christmas, I got a really special present. I got the perfect Christmas present this year for my father-in-law will get a picture on screen of it. Can you go to the next slide it's a remote-controlled airplane. It's a little foam glider. This would have been the dream present for 10 year old me. I did get a foam glider back some of the Spore for wings that would throw out the hillside. But with the technology was not there yet drones didn't exist. You know that there's a gyroscope that senses. It's orientation in space. There's a there's Motors to run the two propellers behind the wings. There's a 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi radio to connect it to the remote control didn't have a tiny little computer in there to process all this information. Now this remote only has two levers and cut fast and slow and it's got left and right that's it. And that's because it doesn't have a lot of things that most remote control airplanes. Have you don't need to study your get a license to fly this thing these two tiny little propellers and the signals that I send the airplane are interpreted by the computer and they're they're sent to the propellers that uses a gyroscope to keep playing more or less balance and level and it might look like I'm controlling the plane but really it's a drone really it's controlled by its own sensors and buy a computer is controlled by these algorithms into a gyroscope stop. It is way beyond my understanding I just try to keep it from crashing.
What's your heads now?
There we go.
You can go to blank screen now if we're honest with ourselves, so where we come to the word today, and we see that we are a lot like remote controlled airplanes that were controlled by things that are way beyond our understanding that there are forces in this world that try to control us. People around us family members and friends are politicians on TV or on talk radio the social media that we see or don't see each day that we human beings can't help but be influenced by the people in the media around us. We are all driven by desire whether yours is for her money or power or sex or things at some of us struggle with chemical addictions get to things like alcohol or drugs or adrenaline. Some people here carry the heavy burden of mental illness maybe depression runs in your family. Maybe it's bipolar disorder. When I worked at Pine Rest a few years ago, I sat and listened to people who were deep in the depths of mental illness. Some of them were coming out of the depths of depression others that had a manic episode. Some of them were recovering from psychosis from seeing visions and hearing voices and a lot of these illnesses could be managed with therapy and with new drugs that we have but it almost never goes completely Away by people who live with mental illnesses know deep down that that's part of being human in this Fallen World and it is not easy and it is not good, but boy with the help of doctors in his God we can live through it. And then there are the powers in the world that we do not like to talk much about. Are they are just as real like in the scripture Today evil spirits and demons have people driven by evil desires or evil spirits places where the powers of evil have halep's way for way too long. I didn't this time and place we would rather pretend with those don't exist. But that doesn't make those evil Powers go away. Now. The only thing that can do that is the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. When my wife and I lived in Laos the spirits were on people's mind all the time. Everyone was afraid of the spirits in the house Spirits before spirits of the spirits in the water. Even their own ancestors Spirits one time on a drive through the mountains A co-worker asked me. Are you afraid of the spirit. Yankee? And we were driving through a section of dark Old Forest and the tall trees were untouched because everyone knew that their evil spirits living there in the forest and I said to him know I am not afraid of evil spirits and he was surprised. Don't all foreigners think that Spirits aren't real. And I said, no, I believe the spirits are real but I am not afraid of them as a Christian. I believe that Jesus is more powerful than the spirits than all the spirits put together. He was quiet for a bit. And then he said I wish I could believe that. The fear of the spirit controls the lives of so many people in Laos and fed all around the world even here in Ellsworth. Jesus meets this man who is tormented by a legion of unclean spirits and demons out of the man in the key question for us as we come to this text. Is this what controls you Desire a power something else to not think about that for a few seconds. What controls you
and notice what God brings to mind. Now hold that thought that sting in your mind as we come to the story of Jesus and the demon-possessed man on the shores of the Sea of Galilee the first let's set the scene. Jesus and his disciples are at the Sea of Galilee as usual much of Jesus ministry happened there but they are far from home the night before they took a boat from capernum on the north of the North West Shore over across for the East Shore to an area code gorgoza are the gerasenes. They are on the other side. They are in Gentile territory. This is a region called the decapolis. It's Roman cities Roman controlled Turf. Now the exact location is unclear because of a couple different issues between the different gospels, but we know that what they are and gentle territory we know that there are pigs nearby unclean animals and their in a graveyard. The scholars think they're probably somewhere here on the north east or the east side of the lake and the Golan Heights mountains come down in from the Steep Banks or Cliffs along that side. That's a key detail a little bit later in the story. So Jesus gets out of the boat and he is the first person he needs his man who is possessed with an M. Pure Spirit an unclean spirit. Oh and they happen to have landed in the graveyard. Now this poor man lives outside of town. He's he's among the tombs. He is the local crazy person. Every town has one I think Outkast and excluded everyone knows him but no one knows what to do with him. He is beyond help. They've tried finding him with shackles. They've tried tying and with irons and chains and his inhuman strength tears them apart. They have sent him away to live with the spirits in the graveyard. No one is strong enough to restrain this guy anymore. It is an awful life for this man that even worse Mark says that the spirits are tormenting him the whole time that he screams in agony and he cuts himself with stones that makes me shiver shudder to imagine him. And then Jesus comes out of the boat up the banks of the shorts and the man sees Jesus from far away and he shouts at him. What do you want with me? What are you going to do to me? Have you come to torment me? And Jesus commands come out of him come out of this man you in pure spirit and all the dialogue here is a little bit hard to follow the probably because the man isn't exactly listening to what Jesus is saying. Oh, he's screaming the whole time at the top of his lungs. Jesus says, what is your name of this is an important question people thought that using someone's name gave you power over them. That's why the demons have just tried to call Jesus the son of the most high God they're trying to get the upper hand on Jesus but in doing so they have admitted that Jesus is the most high God. Jesus is a power above all powers Jesus name is the name above all names and they do not stand a chance at the name of Jesus. Jesus forces the demon to give its name. My name is Legion. He says for we are many. Boo, boo. What a creepy Line This is not just one evil spirit. Not just one Diva know this man is possessed by many many demons whole Legions worth Noah Roman that the name legion is not just a creepy detail in the story. You see a fully-equipped Roman legion was about six thousand men. That is a lot of evil spirits I name you this Legion is a little bit understaffed today because these these demons I get sent off the cliff are about 2,000 and number if we assume is 1 / pig that goes over the cliff, but either way it's a crazy number of spirits a political statement here though. The Roman Legions that occupy Palestine should be sent back to where they belong into the sea banished like these demons in a herd of pigs and there's another link to the Roman legion that occupied that area had on their Banner as their emblem a wild boar a pig. Does Jesus power is clear over these demons this Legion of Roman demons and I start trying to negotiate with him. They want to go into this nearby herd of pigs. Jesus has already passed them out of the man. Now, he allows the spirits to go into this herd of pigs and and tosses who is the pigs do not react well to demon possession, they Stampede over the bank off of cliff and into the lake and they all drowned and that is the end of the pigs. And as far as we know of the Demons to the man and the pigs and the area are free from the demons because it's a Jesus power that defeats the demons hits Jesus name that freeze the enslaved man. It's the authority of Jesus that is cleared everyone here the demons the disciples the man and the crowd the people watching and how do they respond? Will the demons acknowledge Jesus name and power they have no choice they are cast out defeated and destroyed the disciples are silent. We don't know what they think about all this. And in the man with the man wants to follow Jesus will come back to that later. But the people in the area are not impressed. They are not amazed. They do not respond. Well to this Freedom they are not happy that Jesus has freed does demon-possessed man and the pig herders run off to town to the report the terrible news. All the pigs are dead all two thousand of them. Huge loss to the owners of these days. I heard of 2,000 pigs is worth about $225,000. That's according to a pastor in Minnesota whose family is in the egg business. It's no wonder the herders run off to town right away. They don't want to be held responsible for the loss of all these pigs. People come out of town to see what's happened. And the first thing they see is this crazy man sitting there calmly with his clothes on he's not crazy anymore. And how do they respond? I'm not with joy know they are afraid they're afraid of Jesus power. They're afraid of what he'll do next. They're afraid of how Jesus power might change them and instead of being amazed they beg and plead to Jesus go away from here. Leave us alone. I wonder why they're not amazed. I wonder what that looks like for us today.
Now the man he reacts differently maybe best of all species Jesus getting into the boat and he begs to go with him. He runs after Jesus and he wants to follow Jesus. He wants to be with Jesus all the time. And this man is the first one to do hit do that by his own will on his own you see all 12 disciples. They had to be asked they have to be invited and be commanded by Jesus follow me. You think the Jesus would say sure welcome come on join the crew and roll us back across the lake to capernium but no instead. Jesus says go go home to your own people and tell them what the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. Go home. Go be a witness. Go speak of my mercy and Jesus commissions this man to be the first Apostle the first sent one the long before the Apostle Paul came on Jesus sends this free man to be the very first missionary to the Gentiles.
The Jesus crosses the lake into Gentile territory. Jesus has freed this man from his evil spirits and Jesus symbolically freeze the man to land itself from the power of the occupying Roman legion. And all this points to A. Jesus is going to do himself. On the cross Jesus is tormented by the Roman Legions. Jesus flash is cut and bruised Jesus cries out and words that fuel can understand. It seems like a crazy man to the people watching he hangs on a cross in a graveyard he suffers for the sin and evil of the whole creation.
On the cross Jesus breaks the power of evil and sin and by his power and authority by his name is above all names by the power of the Triune God Jesus meets the powers of evil had on and destroys them. They are no more. He reveals them to be powerless to be less than Nothing Dire reveals their power to be a grand deception a joke a trick Jesus power disarm the powers of evil the powers of the Empire the powers of sin and death and Hell He breaks the shackles of sin this painting on screen from Eastern Orthodox Church shows Jesus descending into hell to defeat the powers of sin. He breaks the shackles of sin set. The prisoners free. Jesus power defeats the powers of sin and evil and Jesus Victory is complete. It is finished. God wins. So where does that leave us? We've seen Jesus free this man from The Bondage of evil spirits. We know that Jesus frees us from bondage to sin and evil. So, how do we respond to God's grace? How do we respond like that man? Did he eagerly ask to follow Jesus? He wants to be with Jesus learning and doing Kingdom things. He wants to be where the kingdom action is. And that's why Jesus send him back to his own town back to the people who knew him before just being there calm and closed is a witness to the power of God. Look at me I once was bound but now I am free. The possessed man becomes a witness. He testified see what God has done for him. And that is one way that we can respond to God's Freedom. We can give witness to what God has done for us. Sometimes it's obvious two people just looking at you they can tell but if it isn't what the hell was story speak of What the Lord Has Done For You tell of his mercies tell of God's grace. The second thing you can do is go home. Go to the place where you live go to where you work where you eat and live out your witness in that place those places where people know you because just being there as a follower of Jesus is a witness. And finally, we can testify to one another we can and should be always telling the stories of what God has done. Listen. This is what God did for me last week. I want to share to you how I experience God's Mercy today. Let me tell you a story about how God Lifted Me Up When I was down. Give witness to what God has done for you give witness to what has controlled you tell of that with the things that you struggle with and how Jesus power frees you from bondage. Maybe not to everyone but to a few trusted people and Tower of God power over sin and evil and death, even though we live in a broken world where we may never be completely free and this life from the powers of sin and evil, but we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ our bodies and Minds still suffer from these effects of sin and we may be controlled by things that are beyond our understanding beyond our power, but we are not drones of the devil. We are not little foam airplanes controlled by computers and radios know if you are in Christ Jesus you are free. Paraphrase the Heidelberg Catechism of the first question and answer Jesus Christ has fully paid for your sins. Jesus Christ sets us free from the tyranny of the devil. Jesus freed us and we belong to him by his Spirit can enable us to live wholeheartedly for him. We testify we testify to the power of Jesus to the authority of Jesus over all of creation to the power of Jesus name and we point to the Cross where Jesus defeated sin and death and evil, we point to the new creation where God's kingdom will be complete where God's name will be all in all in the name of the father and of the son and of our Lord Jesus Christ of the holy spirit. Amen. Let's pray.
Oh God, we confess your name your name that is above all names you got three in one Father Son and Holy Spirit and we Proclaim your name above all that. Your power is greater than all powers that your Authority is greater than all the thority is that your name is above all names that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So work in Us by your spirit that we may confess and profess your name that we may be freed. Continually by the power of Jesus name from the tyranny of the devil and enabled by your spirit to live in Holiness and justice. God we want to be free and all of us are partly free and partly Bound by the powers of sin, but we trust that in Jesus name we are forgiven. We are freed. We are no longer captive to those things that bound us, but in Christ we can live in the freedom of redemption. So how best to do that help us to live in it to testify to it to speak of your name above all names for that is who we love Jesus Christ in the name of the spirits I meant