This has been a very difficult sermon to prepare and not much easier to preach. At the end of the service you say, It was not easy for those of us who were trying to listen. This was not one of our better sermons.
Some sermon texts are difficult to interpret. Not so with this one, but the topic it presents to us, The Voice of Authority, is extremely irritating to many listeners. Let’s review the text.
Jesus and His disciples went into the synagogue at Capernaum. It wasÊone of His first public appearances at the beginning of a ministry that would last for three years. The synagogue was a logical place for ourÊLord to go, for there He could begin to teach the people who He was.ÊHe was more than Joseph’s son and the carpenter from Nazareth.Ê
He was the Son of God and Savior of the world. The service was simple prayer, a reading from the Scriptures and an exposition of what the text was teaching the listeners. When the service was over, those in attendance were interested in what Jesus had said.Ê
Unlike others who spoke at the synagogue, Jesus taught with authority. In addition to His preaching Jesus healed a man who was possessed with a demon. This was not a typical Sabbath and the big question being debated was, “What is this? A new teaching and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”
All of this leaves us anxious to know what Jesus discussed with the people on that day, but that question goes unanswered. The best we can do is list a few possibilities taken from other teaching experiences whereÊwe do know what His subjects were.
Perhaps Jesus talked about entrance into God’s Kingdom and the people’s relationship with God. You remember that was the livelyÊdiscussion He had with a member of the Jewish Council one eveningÊby the name of Nicodemus. He began by telling Nicodemus that no one could enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. What didÊit mean to be born again? This made no sense to Nicodemus who hadÊbeen taught that his membership in God’s Kingdom came because he was a Jew. Now Jesus was teaching this Pharisee that a person enters into a personal relationship with God through faith in Him who was God’s Son. As time went by, Jesus continually told the people that theirÊsalvation was not based on national origin, nor on their obedience to God’s Law, but was a gift from God through trusting in Jesus Christ.
Such teaching brought much negative reaction from the people, notÊonly because it was declared heretical, but because Jesus taught withÊauthority. It was hard for the listeners in Jesus’ day to accept and it isÊdifficult for people living in a pluralistic society to accept in our day.ÊYou say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Do you know how offensive this is for my friends who are not Christians? You are telling them that they are not going to Heaven. You are building prejudices in their minds that will remain with them all of their lives. They might even try to evangelize some of these people who don’t believe in Jesus as the Savior of theÊworld, and that is not American.Ê
This is a typical response to the Christian’s proclamation of salvation by grace in Jesus Christ alone. These people are not opposed to us saying, It is my opinion that Jesus is the Savior of the world. That’sÊacceptable until you speak with authority that Jesus is the only wayÊinto a relationship with God and that is what He says. Whether thisÊwas one of Jesus’ strong points in His sermon at the synagogue thatÊSabbath day we do not know. But we do know that it is His primaryÊteaching today and it is hard for many to accept. Jesus was very concernedÊabout the home, so it would not be unreasonable to think that thisÊcould have been a part of His sermon on that Sabbath day.
Let’s begin talking about the home. Who should you marry? That’s kind of personal, isn’t it. Yet the Word of God speaks with authorityÊto the question. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Do not be yokedÊtogether with unbelievers.” (II Corinthians 6:14) How does Mary reactÊto this authoritative word when her fiancee is good looking, well-educated and wealthy, but an unbeliever. Can’t you hear her say, “Is God tellingÊme that I can’t marry him? Forget it. That is one part of the Bible thatÊI’ve blotted out. You see, the reaction would not have been that strong had Paul written, “It might be well for you to consider not marrying aÊperson who is not a Christian.” Mary could have handled that word, and even respected Paul for his opinion, even though she did not agreeÊwith him. It is that authoritative voice that makes her angry, and that is what Christianity is battling in this day that stresses individual rights.
What happens in your family when you and your life have an argument.ÊThat is not unusual in any home. After all, we are different personalitiesÊand have strong opinions. The important thing is to know how to handle the dispute when it is over.Ê
I have a friend who told me that his wife puts him in the “deep freeze”Êwhen they have a big argument. By that he means that she does not talkÊto him for three days. They sit at the same table with the children andÊeat their meals, and she doesn’t utter a word to him. When it is absolutely necessary for her to communicate with her husband, sheÊspeaks through the children. You could almost laugh at such immaturity, but think what those children are going through during those hours.Ê
God’s Word would have no part in this kind of behavior. Paul writes toÊthe Christians in Ephesus, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”Ê(Ephesians 4:26) That means that our anger can not be more than one day old. How many marriages would have been saved if that word had been taken seriously, but a home can be destroyed because of the attitude. No one, not even God, is going to tell me that I have to apologize and accept an apology when someone has hurt me badly.
One more thought about life in your home. Are you teaching yourÊchildren to respect the voice of authority? The Bible tells us, “Train upÊa child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not departÊfrom it” (Proverbs 22:6).
I don’t like to talk about those good old days when almost everything was right. I am not so sure that such was the case. However, I am convinced that in general terms we who were raised fifty years ago had a better understanding of authority than is the case today.Ê
The school teacher was a disciplinarian and had support from society.ÊAs a third grader I had a great teacher. She was kind and loved her class, but none of us could misbehave and get away with it. At the beginningÊof the school year, she showed us her weapon. It was a piece of rubber hose about a foot long and split down the middle about six inches.ÊThe teacher told us that if it were necessary she would take any one who was interrupting the class out in the hall and slap our hands three timesÊwith the hose. I will not forget the day when one of the boys went to the hall with the teacher and came back with tears in his eyes.ÊAt recess time we asked Bob what happened, and he said that she had used the hose. If the discipline problem was beyond what our classroom teacher felt she should handle, the offender was sent to the principal’sÊoffice. She had a little whip, and the bad boy or girl was hit three timesÊon the legs.
Now, I am not defending this kind of discipline. I would vote againstÊteachers doing that today, but they know better than to try such methods of discipline. The teacher would not only be fired, but perhaps sued orÊput in jail for child abuse. However, these crude disciplinary acts did give us an understanding of what authority is all about. It is good to know there are other methods of teaching this same lesson, but it is tragic if something is not done to teach children that there areÊauthoritative figures and they must be respected, otherwise theÊhome and society will live in chaos.
How much discipline is in your home? Are the children running the home? God’s Word says, Better be careful. Without an understanding of authority your children could have some bad experiences downÊthe road of life.
Our impression of the authoritative voice is often wrong. We feelÊthat it takes something away from our freedom. Let me assure you that God’s voice of authority enriches our lives by giving us security, peace and hope. Think of His promises. He will forgive us our sins and restore us into a living relationship with our Heavenly Father. He will strengthen us when we need help for difficult tasks. Those words that He speaks to us are words of authority. They are sure.Ê
That’s why we can put such confidence in all that our Heavenly Father says to us.
It is my prayer that even though this sermon might have been irritating,Êyou know it was based on truth which comes from the Lord who loves you and wants the best for your life.Ê