So here is yesterday's gospel reading and the sermon. I will probably incorporate it into next Sundays service as well.
Mark 1:21-28Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching-- with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus goes into the temple and speaks with authority and the people gathered in the temple were astounded by his teaching. Scribes were considered reasonably learned, meaning they could read and write. Some degree of interpretation was obviously given to them. Jesus took interpretation a step further. He didn't say I think this is what the scripture says. He stated this is the meaning of scripture, end of discussion. I would be amazed as well, especially if what was said made sense to me. To us Episcopalians reason is one of the legs of the three legged stool.
So, as if this isn't enough, a man shows up who is possessed by a demon, or demons, and he cries out, “What have you to do with us Jesus?” “I know you are the holy one of God.” and Jesus replies once again with authority, ”Be silent and come out of him!” And, this unclean spirit did just that.
In a brief amount of time in this temple, Jesus speaks with authority and casts out an unclean spirit. Jesus performs thirty seven miracles that are recorded in the New Testament. Thirty eight if you count the resurrection.
I think it is important to note that during this time period in Israel there were a lot of people who made a good living casting out demons and performing magic. They would go around and if you had something wrong with you, the magician would put together something that would fix you up. It might be an amulet. He might agree to say some incantations over you. Whatever he did you could be guaranteed one thing. There was a price. It was never free. And if you didn't pay his service would be followed by a curse and nobody wants to be cursed.
So, Jesus was going around doing miracles. He was casting out demons, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and even raising the dead. The outward difference was that Jesus did these things without trickery and he did not charge. At least he did not charge in the way that others did. His price was that those who were healed lead a Godly life. When you read the books of the New Testament you see this as a re-occurring theme through out his mission, right up to that final journey to Jerusalem where Jesus is crucified.
In my way of thinking, life itself is a miracle. There has never been a magician or a scientist who has been able to create life. My charge and your charge is to thank God for this miracle of life and as Jesus has taught us, sin no more.