Sermon Notes- January 29, 2012

4th Sunday after the Epiphany- Year B

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28 


The Gospel and OT Lessons are complimentary.  God is doing  a new thing in Jesus according to Mark–he is casting out unclean spirits and speaking with authority. Moses speaks of a prophet that will be coming who, like him, the people of Israel are to heed his word.  It has been an issue from early on with the people of God, “Who will we listen to?”  The Epistle, like the past several weeks, is related to the theme, but is not as easy to see.  But the reading from 1 Corinthians is quite preach-able.

  • Here’s a couple of questions to ask-1) Who speaks for God? 2) Who are our prophets today? Moses in Deuteronomy is trying to prepare Israel for the time that is soon coming when he would not be with them.  God will send someone to lead them and speak God’s Word to them.  We deal with the same questions that Israel did–how will we know when we are hearing one of God’s messengers?  If they speak the truth, and the truth comes to pass, that may be a sign.  There are plenty that have come and led God’s people astray–but those who bear the fruit of truthfulness, can be trusted.  Who are some of the false prophets that we have encountered in recent years?  When did we know?
  • The Psalm is singable and speaks of the faithfulness of God over the generations.  Take a look at the characteristics of a God who is forever faithful–grace and compassion, faithfulness to the covenant, justice, offering redemption.
  • The Corinthians reading speaks of the authority of believers and how they live as examples before the Church.  The whole discussion of eating food sacrificed to idols is quite interesting and is part of a larger discussion of church leadership going on through chapter 10.  Christian freedom and authority is an interesting tight-rope walk.  We are called to think of everyone in the community when we exercise our freedom.
  • The Gospel Lesson is another short passage from Mark.  Jesus is with his disciples teaching in Capernaum in a synagogue.  He teaches with authority, not like the other teachers around.  What makes the difference?  The scribes are teaching from tradition and citing precedents, etc.  Jesus preaches with authority derived from God.  The scribes preach a fairly mediocre and conservative view of the scriptures…Jesus calls his followers to a more radical view (see how Jesus treats scripture in the Sermon on the Mount).  Note that Jesus’ teaching is also accompanied with action–casting out unclean spirits.  If the people of God are to be faithful to the Word, they will also be people of action.  Jesus is pointing us to a new way of thinking and living.  Are we ready for it?
  • Some good notes on all of the lessons at- Preaching this Week
  • Who Speaks for God? by Dan Clendenin
  • Some notes on the lessons from Ray Rhoads  that appeared in The Christian Century (2006) Spellbound

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