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LSB Epiphany 5B Sermon – Mark 1:29-39

February 10, 2015

February 8, 2015 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“And [Jesus] healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.”

When the LORD addressed the Israelites concerning His identity, He spoke of His power and ability. The Creation Account given in the Torah was meant to make that known to the line of people that stretched from Adam through Noah to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Through the generations, knowledge was given about who the LORD is and what He does.

That line of revelation was why the LORD could address the Israelites during the time of Isaiah the prophet: “Do you know know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? It is [the LORD] who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” The Israelites had been told who the Creator is. The LORD and His dominion were not a secret.

But the reason why the LORD gave that revelation was not to have a fan club, to have a multitude of people who would gaze in awe at His glory. True, there would be such adoration taking place, as created humanity encountered the divine majesty. But the LORD’s purpose of revealing this to the Israelites was to have a nation who placed their trust and hope in Him and His work. Not only did the LORD speak about His power and ability, He also made promises involving that power and ability.

And so the LORD addresses His people: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 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.”

When the Incarnate LORD comes to Capernaum, those promises concerning His ability and His using them to aid His people are fulfilled. That is what you heard in the Gospel Reading for this morning. After preaching in the Capernaum synagogue and casting out an unclean spirit from a man, Jesus goes to the house of Simon and Andrew. But a problem exists in that house: “Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told Him about her.” So what is Jesus going to do? He acts as had been promised. The woman who is bed-ridden, weak from fever, is restored: “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”

But Jesus’ healing work is not limited to Simon’s mother-in-law. Those who had heard and seen what Jesus did in the synagogue begin to do the same thing that Simon and Andrew did for Simon’s mother-in-law: “That evening at sundown they brought to Him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door.” People from Galilee were coming to where Jesus was, dragging their sick along with them. They came seeking out the healing and restoration that Jesus was giving. And Jesus provides it: “And He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.”

These events in Capernaum reveal the faith that the people had in Jesus. They had heard the LORD’s exhortations through the prophets. They knew that their ways were not hidden from the LORD. They understood that their right was not being disregarded. They were not being ignored. No, the LORD was right there in their midst, providing what He had promised: giving power to the faint, increasing their strength; bringing the princes and rulers of this world, all that had grips on them, to nothing. No longer were the people bound by fever, illness, or demonic power. This Jesus, the LORD incarnate, had  set them free.

But this work is not limited to Capernaum. After all the healing and restoring that happens there, Jesus expresses His desire to travel beyond that town: “And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’ And He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” Jesus takes His power and authority to other places. For not only does Capernaum need His work, so does all of Galilee. And not just Galilee, but all the world.

Jesus’ fulfilling of the promises made long ago is part of His Messianic work. It is part of the redemption that was to be granted to Israel. But the statements about the LORD’s power and authority does not state that He is King over a particular ethnic group. The revelation of the LORD’s identity and work is meant for the entire cosmos to know. The LORD is not just the father of a nation like Washington or Bolivar or Gandhi. No, He is creator and ruler over all things. And His concern for His creation’s condition causes Him to act for it. The healing and restoration that is brought by Jesus is intended for all to have. That is why Jesus goes into the other towns of Galilee. That is why after His atoning, sacrificial death and after His glorious, death-defying resurrection, Jesus sends out His apostles with the command: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

That gospel is the speaking of the healing and restoration that Jesus brings to all the places where He is preached. This is how the LORD exercises His power and authority for you. You also have heard that the LORD is the Creator, who has established the heaven and the earth, who can raise up and cast down earthly rulers. You also have heard that this LORD gives power to the faint, who increases strength for those who have none. The promise is made to you: “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.” Those statements about the LORD’s identity and the promises that He makes are for your hearing and believing. They summon you to where He can be found. You come to receive what Jesus gives.

Where does Jesus exercise authority now? Where does Jesus preach now? How do people wait on Jesus? It happens where the healing and restoration rooted in Jesus’ work is spoken. That is why you gather here. That is why you have first been brought. Someone brought you, whether you were old or young, to hear about Jesus and what He does. For most of you it was your parents. For others, it was your spouse. Or it could have been a friend. They brought you, to tell Jesus about the illness that you have—not any simple malady, but the plague and death that sin brings. The request was for Him to do something, to use His ability to heal. And that healing and restoration was given to you. You were brought from spiritual death to divine and holy life. You were brought from condemnation to righteousness. You were brought from not being able to do anything according to the LORD’s will to being active servants.

Every church is like Capernaum or the other towns of Galilee where Jesus went. Jesus’ power and authority are located at these places. And those who have faith and trust in His identity and ability come to receive the benefits that He brings. They gather at the door, bringing themselves and others who are plagued by sin and other illnesses of spirit. Those who are vexed by all that rebels and strives against the LORD’s order come to receive the restoration that Jesus provides. The fever of guilt and shame are removed by Jesus. The unclean and evil are purified by Jesus’ holiness and righteousness used for people.

You have been given the revelation about who the LORD is and what He has done. You are part of that long line who know the identity and ability of the LORD. Like the Israelites of old, this has not been given to you only for the purpose of making more people to praise and adore Him. Certainly, such praise and adoration occurs, as has been heard and seen in the hymns you have sung. But the chief reason why this revelation has been given is so that you can place your trust and hope in the LORD and His work. This is the greatest service or act of worship that can be done.

The LORD’s power and ability have been used for you, just as He has promised. Because you place your trust and hope in the LORD and His work, you also bring your sick and afflicted to Jesus. It is why you fathers and mothers have brought your children here. It is why some of you have brought your spouses here. It is why others of you have invited friends and neighbors here. The power and ability of Jesus is present for them also. The promise is to be extended to them: “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.” This is their promise, as they have Jesus be the object of their faith.

What happened in Capernaum happens here. The LORD reveals Himself. The LORD exercises His power and ability. You receive that knowledge. You benefit from His actions. And you have His commendation: “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.” That is for you, as your faith and trust are in Him. So it shall be as you have heard who Jesus is and what He has done.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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