It is in a simple message of repentance that Jesus gives each of us a chance to find a new hope, and in the urgent call an opportunity to find a new direction, but it is in seeing Jesus in action, that we find…
A Surpassing Authority– The old saying goes, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” People all the time talk a big game, about all that they can do or have done, but could Jesus walk the walk? (Mark 1:21-28) 21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Capernaum became Jesus’ hub for ministry, and yet when he rose to teach in the synagogue no one expected much. Different men would take turns teaching in the synagogue and yet when Jesus opened his mouth his message was unlike the rest. Not just words about God, but a reality found in him! Jesus is instantly tested publically, proving his power was not in just a oratory performance, but in the practical. It was Jesus authority that would constantly be challenged throughout his ministry, the religious leaders saying by what authority do you do these things, but it was after all authority on earth, the authority of the Roman might, the authority of the Jewish religious leaders had been used, that Jesus rose from the dead and declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished. As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?”
“Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.”
“But I’m starved,” the governor said.
“Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.”
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.
“Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.”
“Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”
It is important to know who has the power to make things happen. For the world to see, Jesus hung high in the air, for the world to see he suffered and was murdered, and yet it was by going to the cross that Jesus showed the world that although murdered, he now lived! Seen by his disciples, witnessed by over 500, talked about by non-Christian historians, and marked by history. Christ gives a simple call, but not an easy one. It is an urgent call not a leisurely one. It is in his all-consuming authority rather than just a passive invitation. Eric Lidell, The Disciplines of the Christian Life wrote, ““You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.”
We are told at different times in Jesus ministry that “large crowds followed him,” and then something would happen. Life would get challenging, Jesus would demand more, and they would fizzle out. Each time Jesus went through the filtering down, he did so by offering himself as both LORD AND SAVIOR. It is easy to want a savior, but not many want a LORD. Maybe you are thinking about joining, but not sure you want the structure, maybe you are thinking about giving, but aren’t sure you want the burden, maybe you are thinking about wanting a savior, but aren’t sure you want a lord. But when you are ready to give up your standing before his stature, you will find, like I did on Thanksgiving 2013, reason to truly give Thanks for a simple message, an urgent calling, and a surpassing authority of Jesus Christ.