Epiphany IV, (January 31, 2016)
TITLE: “Amazed at this Word”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter four. We focus especially on the words of the people as follows: “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!”” (Luke 4:36 ESV)
Who is this guy? You can almost hear the wonder in the people’s words. Nobody talks like this. He speaks to things we cannot understand. What’s more, these things listen to Him and do what He says! He speaks to demons and they obey. He even talks to things like a fever and it obeys Him. Who has that kind of power?
We pride ourselves today at our understanding of the world around us. We can see farther out into our galaxy than ever before. We can map DNA, splice genes, and examine things that make an atom look huge by comparison. We can track global financial markets, and research microorganisms. Yet for all our knowledge, for all of our intelligence and so-called control over the world around us, more often than not we are left with the great question of why. Why did the fever have to come, so that my loved one died? Why is there so much evil and depravity in the world, to the point where I can’t even understanding what’s going on all around me?
This is where sin and rebellion has left us: with knowledge but not wisdom; with sight but without hearing. It was true in Jesus’ day, and it is true in our day as well. No matter how hard you try, there is so much in this wide, crazy world of ours that is beyond our control, it can leave you in despair of the future.
But do not despair, for you know the author of our salvation, the creator of the world, and the One who can heal you with a touch and make all things right with a Word. Do you remember the words that God spoke to Jeremiah the prophet? ““Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”” (Jeremiah 1:9–10 ESV)
This is the Word that Jesus brings to our world. His work breaks down the powers of sin and death and hell. His Word is over nations and kings, dictators and tyrants, be they big or small.
When Jesus speaks to you, He does so with the full authority of the Father. The Father has declared Jesus to be His Beloved One. In the waters of the Jordan God publicly announced to the world that Jesus is the One to whom we are to look for all our needs of this body and life.
But the Word that He speaks comes not only with authority but also with power. St. Paul would later say of the Gospel, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV) The Word of the Gospel of Jesus hushes demons and heals the sick. This power is dynamic, that is, it changes things so that you are alive, not dead. You are free from the clutches of sin and Satan and all the assaults that the world can throw at you.
The Word He speaks to you are words of forgiveness and life. The people in Jesus day were amazed that His words held such power and authority, and it is those same Words which now say, “This is my Body; This is my blood.” Come, then, and receive the Word made flesh who is made flesh for you. Come, for all things are now ready.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, You know we live in the midst of so many dangers that in our frailty we cannot stand upright. Grant strength and protection to support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Epiphany 4)
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn