Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Jesus, the One Who Makes Us Holy

Mark 1:21–28


[21] And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. [22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. [23] And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, [24] “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.” [25] But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” [26] And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. [27] And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” [28] And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.


In the Name of Jesus, Amen.




In Mark’s Gospel, the first miracle of Jesus recorded  is Jesus, while teaching in the synagogue, freeing a demon possessed man. Mark doesn’t record whether or not the man with the demon interrupts his teaching, but it is enough of a disruption that people see and hear the demon controlling the man cry 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.” This was quite a scene to everyone who witnessed this.


We haven’t had demonic encounters like this one, but the reality is that there is a real enemy, the devil and all his fallen angels or demons, and they do attack, accuse and torment us whether we are aware of it or not.


Jesus rebukes the demon saying ““Be silent, and come out of him!” [26] And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.”


Now, the demon had recognized correctly who Jesus was, after all it’s this same Jesus who made all the angels, all men and women and everything else. The demon also correctly knows what Jesus has come to do, for he calls Jesus “The Holy One of God”. Not only is Jesus the God who Himself IS Holy, but with this title the Holy One of God, even the demon recognizes that Jesus has come to make people holy as He is holy. He has come to forgive sin. After all Jesus has been preaching, we are told earlier in this same chapter, “he was proclaiming the gospel of God”, which is Jesus making the unclean, clean.


In contrast, the demon here is called “unclean”, and is possessing a man who is also unclean, a sinner condemned to death and being tormented by this spirit. But it is Jesus who has come to set this man free, or release him, and the demon knows this, he knows Jesus has the authority to destroy him, but Jesus simply speaks here ““Be silent, and come out of him!”


This is quite the contrast from the TV preacher or the false teacher who makes a big deal and even a production out of casting out demons. Long prayers, made up and lengthy and loud speeches or formulas and the like, where Jesus, the Holy One of God, simply rebukes & speaks, and the man is free.

Jesus has come to make this man Holy, to forgive sin. To make clean the unclean. This is why He came for us men and for our salvation. Jesus came for the sinner.


Notice here, Jesus doesn’t come in power, according to Mark, but in authority and that’s what differentiates him from the scribes they had been hearing in the synagogues. The scribes came looking for and trying to demonstrate power, control over the people. They had numerous methods for good holy living. More principles than we can even imagine, and yet they had no authority, for that belongs only to Jesus. Jesus taught, not like the scribes who tried to teach the people how to behave and follow the law, how to justify or make themselves clean, rather Jesus words accomplished what they said. Only Jesus had authority to forgive sin. When He forgave sin, it was forgiven. When He spoke, demons fled, for although He had omnipotent power, for after all He was almighty God in flesh, He came in weakness to sinners, and through what we might consider the simplicity or even ordinariness of words, he taught.


But Jesus wasn’t just “some” teacher, some trendy new guru who had come to teach new things for us to do better ourselves, but He was the Promised One, the new Moses, the final and ultimate prophet and the final and ultimate Word of God.

As our Old Testament reading tells us:


Deuteronomy 18:15–19


[15] “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—[16] just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ [17] And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. [18] I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. [19] And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. (ESV)


Jesus teaches and speaks and casts out demons as the final prophet about whom all other prophets speak. In fact, He is the Word of God Himself, so the prophets only speak, including Moses, what Jesus gives them, and now He has come in the flesh to speak for Himself. He is the greater Moses spoken of in Deuteronomy and the one who speaks to us now as the One who has born all of our sin on the cross and risen from the dead and ascended. Who sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty and from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.


The author of Hebrews puts it this way:


“[1] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  (Hebrews 1:1–3)


As the one who speaks to us, the Word of God in the flesh, tempted in all ways that you are, yet without sin, He brings His Word of comfort to you. Fear not! You are forgiven. His very Word cleanses you, frees you. He speaks you clean who are unclean. For He has taken your sin upon Himself, nailing it to the cross and it’s gone, he suffered and died for all your sin. He has removed it as far as the east is from the west says the Psalmist. Our Psalm today puts it this way:


Psalm 32:1–2


[1] Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

[2] Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (ESV)


Jesus covers your sin and makes you holy. Having washed you clean in the waters of baptism and placed upon you His very name. The name above every name. The name by which the devil and all of his fallen angels flee, because of Jesus death on the cross, paying the penalty for your sin, and His rising again in triumph over the power of sin, death and the devil, the demons have no accusation against you, for this Holy One has removed your sin and the devil has no power over you, for you belong to the Lord of life, the holy one who is with you always.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Paul reminds us.


It is in our Gospel that we see, we have no need to fear, no need to be anxious, ashamed, for the Lord Jesus, who has authority over the devil and his demons, has come for the worst of sinners, the harlot, the murderer, the adulterer, the liar, and even the demon possessed and oppressed. He is the Lord over all His creation and has entered into sinful humanity to save you. To gather you to His name, cleanse your sin and feed you His true body and blood for the forgiveness of you sins.


In speaking of the Lord’s authority and triumph over all of our enemies of sin, death and the devil Martin Luther’s most famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress speaks of the greatness of this Holy One of God named Jesus, and all He has accomplished for us, and he writes:


Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us

We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpower us

This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will

He can harm us none

He’s judged the deed is done

One little word can fell him


In the Name of Jesus, Amen