Summary: In our world of reason and intellectualism, we often forget that there is a battle between good and evil... and we have been given the authority of Jesus Christ to stand against it.
Paonia United Methodist Church
February 2, 2003
I have a confession to make to you this morning.
I am not always the best listener.
Now, don’t get me wrong,
When I am in the office and people are in trouble,
I am at my best and I listen intently.
But, when I am at home,
I must admit that I go into a “scan” mode looking for “do” words.
What does this mean?
It means that unless I am actually paying attention,
It goes in one ear, and out the other.
Now, Mary has figured out a way around this.
Anyone who knows me very well knows
that I have an obsession with power tools.
I’ve got it bad.
I can build, create, or fix just about anything,
And I often do.
So, when Mary gets the impression I am not listening,
She inserts words into her sentence like,
“A new air compressor,” or “radial arm saw.”
Yeah, I am awake now.
Its as if I just woke from a sleep.
Now, this phenomenon of selective hearing is not just limited to yours truly.
In fact, it is quite the epidemic.
One New York columnist set out to prove that no one really
listened to what anyone said at social occasions.
When he was invited to a party, he always would arrive late.
When he arrived the hostess greeted him and he would explain why he was late.
"I had to stop for a moment and murder my mistress,
and it took longer than I thought."
You would be surprised by her answer.
Without blinking an eye, the hostess said she understood perfectly,
"I was almost late myself, everyone is quite busy.
Enjoy yourself. Have a good time ."
As he mingled around the party, someone asked him what I he did for a living.
"Oh, I am the executioner for the State Penitentiary."
The person continued, "Well, that must be an interesting line of work.
How does business look this year?’’
I often wonder how many people who show up to church are actually
listening at any given time.
What words should I substitute to get people to sit forward and listen?
Chances are it would have to be something other than
“New air compressor.”
Well, like I said, this phenomenon has been going on for a long time,
And this morning, we get a picture of just this very thing happening
During Jesus’ ministry…
A moment when the sleeping synagogue wakes up
And takes notice.
Our lesson comes from…
21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil 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!" 26The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
This is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is this?
A new teaching? And with authority?
It kind of makes you wonder what all the other teaching
Was about, doesn’t it?
So, what made Jesus’ teaching this day so much different than
Every other day as the teachers got together?
Well, something clearly happened here.
The teaching ceased to be hypothetical and the
Power of his teaching became concrete in the exorcism
Of a demon.
I suspect if we were to do that today,
2000 years later, there would be a great number of people
suddenly sit forward in their pews and wake up from the slumber
of all the happy Sunday morning sermons they have heard in
I think that is what happened then.
I think that is what would happen now.
All the people who sit and scan the message while
Thinking of something else would suddenly wake up
And take notice.
Now, if you are wondering just exactly what I have in mind
For you this morning,
Let me first ease you fears…
I have no intention of doing any exorcisms this morning.
But, what I would like to share with you is something we often
Don’t spend much time talking about in the Methodist church.
And that is, the presence of evil.
We don’t spend much time focusing on the presence of evil because we are