Sermon – Epiphany 4 – February 3, 2019
Luke 4:31-44 ‘The Preacher’
CT: Our words are often all talk but accomplish nothing. Jesus is the Preacher whose words do what He says.
Intro: We’ve all heard people say, “I give you my word,” only to have them let you down. But we’re all guilty of speaking empty words. We make promises at the Baptismal font and when we become members, but we couch them with, “By God’s grace and by His help.” We recognize the weakness of our words. And we need to be careful lest we come across as telling others what’s wrong or what to do when we ourselves fall short of what we’re saying. It’s like Madonna’s old song, “Pappa, Don’t Preach.” Nobody likes to be preached at; nobody needs more empty words that have no power to change the situation we’re in.
A Different Word: How different are God’s words, even when they are delivered to us through the mouth of an ordinary man. Jeremiah was appointed before He was born to speak God’s words; he was a man of God’s Word. Yet not everybody received those words well, for Jeremiah was not only sent to build up, but also to tear down. Hard words from a preacher are never welcomed, even if we need to hear them. We know what we’d like the doctor to say, but there are times when his words are not welcomed.
Jesus’ Voice: In our Gospel lesson the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, “for His word possessed authority.” He wasn’t all talk; He is a man of His word, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to listen. When Jesus spoke to a hometown crowd in Nazareth He didn’t couch His words with “Thus says the LORD,” as the prophets before Him spoke, He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you….” He spoke with His own authority, and even though His words rang true the people were offended at what Jesus said and tried to kill Him. “How dare you preach to us?” People still react to Jesus’ words that way.
The demons, on the other hand, attempted to interrupt Jesus with words of their own. But Jesus silenced them even though they bore witness saying: “You are the holy One of God!” and, “You are the Son of God!” For the devil has spoken enough in this world and caught us all up in his lies. He has successfully paraded around what is evil in God’s sight so that what is sin is seen as acceptable and good. And you are now evil for being disrespectful and unloving for speaking against a woman’s choice or not celebrating same sex marriage. When the devil speaks it is only to disrupt, twist, and destroy your believing in Christ. It’s not, “What does God say,” but the devil asks, “What do you want to hear?”
No, Jesus did not give the demons any wiggle room to speak; He exorcised them, and they had no choice but to obey. They came out of the person leaving them unharmed. While we have been the devil’s allies, and God’s enemies swallowing Satan’s lies hook, line, and sinker, Jesus treats us as His own, jealously guarding our lives. The Holy One of God does not come to destroy us; He comes to free us from the enslaving power of sin, death, and the devil. Jesus did not come to condemn the world; we stand condemned already. (John 3:17-18) No, He came for something much bigger than our individualistic view of things; He came that the world might be saved through Him.
Power in Jesus’ Words: As Jesus rebuked the demon so He rebuked the fever that had seized Simon’s mother-in-law. He came to free us from every effect of sin; to put away all that does not belong in what He created good. Jesus spoke and mouths were opened to praise Him and hands were set free to serve the needs of others.
These words that are much more than talk spread like a wildfire and people brought all who were sick to Jesus. It’s interesting that they felt compelled by the Law to wait out the Sabbath to come to the One who is our rest. But the good news is that Jesus “laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.” His power is not limited to some and not others but is for all people. The Glad New of God, the Gospel, is for all people, and yet it alone has the power of salvation for all who believe. The power of Jesus’ words not only forgives all your sins, and gives you an inheritance in God’s kingdom; it gives you the power to believe and live in the strong promises of His words. They are more than talk; they act with His authority!
More to Jesus: The people would have kept Jesus to themselves, but Jesus insisted that there was much more to His words than what they had witnessed. “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Jesus came to preach the Truth and be the Truth; the Truth about the cost of our sin and God’s willingness to pay the price; the Truth of His blood bought gift of forgiveness; the Truth of His work of faith in people’s hearts that hearing, we might believe and live.
In dying on the cross Jesus rebuked all that has ever corrupted His creation, every sin and evil that bears an unbearable cost in our lives here today, to ensure He would call you and me into perfect wholeness of both body and soul at the resurrection of the dead.
Preach On: At the end of Luke’s Gospel, the risen Lord told His disciples that “repentance and forgiveness should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.” (Luke 24:47) Jesus continues to preach, and His words still carry authority to do as He says they will. Having confessed your sins and hearing they are forgiven for Jesus’ sake; you are forgiven. When you hear Jesus’ words that this bread is His Body and this cup is His Blood, it is as He speaks; given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. When you hear Jesus say He will not leave you as orphans, you know His words at your Baptism have secured your place as a child of God. When your hear Jesus say He will give you comfort, rest, and peace; His certainty rings in your ears. Until Jesus returns or takes us home each one of us needs to hear His words; our faith, our hope, our life depends on them. And He gladly speaks His words in this place over and over again that you and I upon hearing them would be planted and built up as the people of God; witnesses to our salvation in Christ Jesus.