Epiphany 5 “Disease, Demon Possession, & Darkness”
February 7th, 2021 – Mark 1:39
May you receive from God the good you have not deserved, not get the bad that you have, and may you have peace with God through the blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength… but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29, 31).
2The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:2-3).
“32That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mark 1:32-34).
How are you doing?
How are you really doing?
Are you, as these texts say, faint? No might? Weary? Brokenhearted? Outcast? Wounded?
Yahweh, the Lord Jesus, He can help you. I will tell you how in a bit.
The good things you want to do, the things you know you should be doing, like worshipping God, coming to communion, having devotions, sharing your faith, following the “Big Ten” – are you not doing them?
Is that guilt alone exhausting you?
Do you know you should be forgiving as you have been forgiven and yet you hold on to resentment and anger against someone/(someone’s)? Perhaps while being stuck in this state you do not feel worthy to come to worship. Perhaps your shame alone holds you back from God and hearing what He has to say to you. It holds you back from the presence of others who seem to be doing so much better than you.
It is safe to say something in you is holding you back from doing the good you want to do and keeping you doing the evil you do not want to – and it plagues you.
Our Gospel reading has people oppressed by demons in it. The root of the Greek word demon is related to the Greek word for ‘divide’. A demon is a spiritual evil that divides you. It divides you by taking the good you want to do, pulling you apart from your Godly desire, and tempting you to do evil instead.
Yes, I am implying you are plagued by a demon or possibly many demons. Have you ever thought of this before? Have you ever considered that you have been duped and there is far more against you in this world than you think? There are far more cards stacked against you and your faith than you prepare yourself for. In the tug-of-war of your spiritual life you are holding on to your end of the rope and the other is tied to a dump-truck ploughing on ahead in the other direction. Trying to win that war by yourself you do not have much hope.
Trusting what Jesus tells us would show us that we can not only entertain the idea of being attacked by demons but that we are to fully expect it! You should expect that you are at all times under spiritual oppression – because you are! Perhaps the harder you try to fight it the harder it will fight back.
When you say, “I haven’t been to church in a year but I am okay because I could read my Bible at home” (but you never do even though you want to) you can know your faith is seriously suffering.
When you say “my husband never comes to church, but I know he has a faith and believes in God, he just doesn’t believe in the whole ‘church thing’” it is like saying he is in a burning building right now in only his undies trying to put out the fire with a misting spray bottle – but he will be okay.
When you say, “I’m not coming anymore, or I’m just going to leave the church, because something isn’t going the way I want it to there” It’s like saying “I’m just not going to eat anymore because I don’t like how the lettuce is laid out in any of the grocery stores. And one time, somebody else in the store looked at me funny and made me uncomfortable. I just won’t eat anymore.”
That kind of thinking is not logical. It is not sound. It definitely is not in line with the Gospel message which is our only hope and is our very lifeline from God! Perhaps these examples seem like a “staw-man’s” argument to you; however, when you consider how important it is to be connected to God and each other, how eternal life is far more important than any earthly division ever could be, you can see how silly these conclusions we come to sound.
Thankfully, God does not abandon us when things get tough – He comes in and rescues us. Why would we abandon Him? He does not hide the message of hope in Him no matter how much darkness and disease surrounds the people with Him. God does not abandon us to our demons, no matter how much they overpower us. He stays with us and fights for us.
As we see in our Gospel, Jesus comes in and heals diseases. He comes in and casts out demons that plague people’s thoughts and actions. He comes in and preaches a message that brings light to the overwhelming darkness.
For you today, He does all of that when He forgives your sins. In your sins forgiven, He promises life free of your diseases that will last forever.
When your sins are forgiven by Jesus, the demons that plague your life, are cast out so you may do the good you want to by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When your sins are forgiven, God’s glorious message of light through Jesus Christ shines all the brighter when His gift to the world is put into action – spoken and heard by His children. Loving each other in word and deed.
God’s Word through devotions, Commandments, Worship, song, communion, is not a Word for the perfect. It is for the faint, the powerless, the weary, brokenhearted, the outcast, and the wounded. It is even for those who have convinced themselves they are okay – when they are so clearly not okay.
It is for those who are tormented day and night by the power of the devil. It is for those whose thoughts circulate over and over again on hatred of themselves and others. It is for those terrified of the things happening right before their eyes – so they may see past it and love others through it. It is for those who have been blinded to the world over concern for themselves – that they may look up to God and see their neighbour and care for them.
God’s Word is to bring hope and healing to the lost and broken.
The proclamation Jesus started in Galilee, it continues here and now. Even though Jesus moved on, and seemingly left some of the people in darkness, we know He did not abandon them, did he. The reality of His message of His Kingdom, forgiveness, and release was still for them. The message goes on. The reality that He IS the promised one of Israel. He IS God’s very real solution to very real problems. He IS God with us who has power over all things and will bring eternal life to us. He is the suffering servant who by His death will conquer death and the devil. He IS the living one who watches over the earth and cares for you and me – and for those who have not yet heard and do not realize they need Him.
You are broken. That is not good. The aches and pains in your body and the hatred in your heart tell you this. But it is going to be okay.
May you have a reversal of the things that plague us: instead of disease, healing; instead of demon possession, release; instead of darkness, light! Not by our own power, but though the Means of God’s Grace in Jesus Christ our Lord.