“The Haunting, Holy One of God”
OT: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
I’ll never forget watching the movie, The Exorcist, late one evening while in high school. There’s nothing quite like a Hollywood take on demon-possession to keep you up all night clutching your pillowcase. For me, just the thought of a person’s agency – their ability to act on their own – being taken over by an unseen force is enough to send chills down my spine.
Likewise, I’m not sure there’s anything I’d rather avoid in a sermon than what we find in our gospel reading this morning – a man possessed by an unclean spirit. Of course, the safe thing to do here would be to leave this demon-possessed man at the arms-length distance of the text. After all, his role in the story alone is important, albeit in a negative sense: he ironically reveals the true identity of Jesus as “the Holy One of God” when no one else knew quite what to do with this new teacher of authority. Yes, we could stop there and let this afflicted man be, but what refuses to stay hidden in this text is the stark contrast of this unclean spirit challenging Jesus – not just anywhere – but right in the middle of the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
Two reactions are immediate for me concerning this encounter: Continue reading