Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Genesis 1-3 like you never heard it before.)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM


Going To Synagoguue

January 27, 2018

Verse: Mark 1:21–28

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
January 28, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Epiphany 4
Going To Synagogue

And they entered Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the Synagogue and began to teach. And they were astonished at his teaching, because he taught them as one who possessed authority, and not like the Scribes. And, immediately, there was a man in their synagogue, under the spell of an unclean spirit! And he cried aloud, “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!” But Jesus commanded, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him, and raging aloud, came out of him! And they were all so amazed that they kept asking one another, "What is this? What is this New Teaching? That he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him? And his reputation spread at once, everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside. Mark 1:21-28

We can’t hear today’s Gospel without recalling last Sunday’s, when Jesus commissions his first disciples to be “fisher’s of men.” St. Mark reports that upon hearing the Lord’s Call James and John left their father Zebedee, their business, and associates, and became disciples of Jesus. But little did they know what they were in for ride of their lives!

Whatever took place next we don’t know, but the next thing St. Mark writes for the church is today’s Gospel lesson where they watch in wonder as Jesus begins his mission. As he commences spiritual warfare against the powers of hell, that will end at the cross! End when the Son of God “bruises his heel,” in order to “crush Satan’s head,” (Genesis 3:15); so that we might gain the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)

When you were baptized Jesus called you to be his disciple! He washed you, cleansed you and freed you from the tyranny of the Devil. But have you left everything to follow him? Or have you given up your liberty, and submitted your precious life to unclean spirits, the kind that Jesus sends packing in today’s Gospel?

St. Mark doesn’t tell us exactly what an “unclean” spirit is, but whatever its agenda in the life of this man, it was not good! Unclean, in Scripture, means a person who is stained with sin. One who thinks low thoughts, vain thoughts, useless thoughts. One who lives to fulfill the desires of the flesh; and turns a deaf ear to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Very often, especially in St. Paul, unclean means to be sexually impure. That’s easy enough to do when everything in the world has not only been politicized, and monetized, but also sexualized! The culture, that once followed Christian morality, has now soundly rejected it; and in the process it has convulsed our nation, our people and our churches – to the point that there are now “rainbow” churches; “synagogues of Satan” as St. John calls them in Revelation 2:9 (and 3:9).

These are powerful spirits who, kicking and screaming refuse to come out. But don’t worry about it because Jesus is capable of handling the problem. Instead watch yourself. Hear St. Paul’s admonition, “Let him who thinks he is standing, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12) Yes, be watchful, because we don’t come here on Sunday morning to put on performances, stroke egos, or make people feel warm and bubbly inside. This is not a game we play here on Sunday morning, but spiritual warfare. The stakes are eternal life, or eternal death, and there is no other choice. You will either follow Jesus to heaven, or the Devil to hell. What will it be?

But there are other spirits as well. One of the most obvious is the spirit of addiction to powerful drugs that bind a person in hardened chains, and take over her life. Drugs for which a person will say anything, do anything, steal anything, or sell anything, even what is most dear. But there are other, more subtle demons, too. Demons of self-absorption, self-righteousness, and self-delusion. As Scripture says, "If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:9. 

But whatever plagues you today be sure of this fact: that as Jesus entered the synagogue then to liberate men; he does so still today. This is the synagogue, and we are the ones who need the “strength and protection” the church prayed for in today’s Collect. Not only from sin and death, but from the devil as well who, like a roaring lion, always prowls about seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:7)

But in the words of today’s Gradual, “Praise the LORD all nations … for great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.”

While we are fickle and unfaithful Jesus is dependable and dedicated to us. He paid the ultimate price for our sins on the cross. He conquered death by his glorious resurrection from the tomb. And he imparted the blessings of salvation to us. And so rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion for your King comes to Christ Lutheran Church today bringing salvation!

He comes with a mighty Word of truth that purifies our unclean spirits. A Gospel that saves us, consoles us, fortifies us, and gives us a new lease on life. As that message could not be silenced then, but without the aid of social media spread immediately throughout all of Galilee; so it is come to Cleveland, Ohio today.

Today we are in the synagogue with Jesus.

Today by the Sign of the Cross and the Invocation we re-affirm our Baptism into the name, the love and the wonder of the Triune God.

Today we soar high above the world and its woes as we ponder and partake of immeasurably high and lofty and blessed things!

Today we bring “all our sorrows” to our God in prayer.

Today we pray, “praise and give thanks.” (Eucharistia)

Today we kneel awe-struck with wonder as we enter into Holy Communion with Jesus. With his Body, his Blood, his purity, his power and his love. So that we can leave the synagogue in the peace the Benediction bestows, follow Jesus throughout the week, and return to his House next Sunday. Amen.