A Homily on a Crocodile, the Words of Christ, and our Belovedness

 

 

Deut 18:15-22

Psalm 111

Mark 1:21-28

This morning, I want to talk to y’all about an crocodile. Not just any crocodile, a very specific one, we’ll call him George. Growing up I developed a deep love for all things living and so in high school it became my goal to become a herpetologist, study reptiles and amphibians and travel the world seeing and studying all the reptiles I could find. I have since realized that that is not my calling, however, my love for all things living has not changed. Knowing this, a good friend of mine, two years ago, took me to the zoo in Boston for my birthday. We saw lions, and elephants, and peacocks roaming freely, it was Avery Flannery O’Connor like Then finally, she took me to the reptile house. I was like a kid in a candy store. Right in the middle of the reptile house we find George, an African dwarf crocodile. Our friend is about four feet long, and as we approach his enclosure he is restfully laying on a log, bathing himself in the the sunlight. The most interesting part of this part of the reptile house, however, was a small blond boy standing right in front of the glass of George’s enclosure. I didn’t think it was possible but he looked more excited to be there than I was. He was literally jumping up and down in excitement, or maybe in an attempt to see George as best he could. Much to this small excited boy’s chagrin, however, he finds George resting very still, which he found particularly boring. He turns to his parents and tells them that he wishes George would move, or do something…anything.  And finally, when the boy had finally had enough of George’s seeming lethargic attitude, he presses the entire side of his face agains the glass and yells “CAN YOU HEAR ME CROCODILE? ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING? WHY WON’T YOU MOVE?”

Our small blond friend has asked a very important, yet very simple question. Can you hear me? Are you listening.

Our old testament passage this morning tells us of an individual that will rise up with authority. “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.” The Lord will put His words in his mouth.  He will make him to rule over the works of the Lords hands; He will put all things under his feet.

This man will command a great amount of authority through his words. So much authority that God says that any man that presumes to have this, but does not, will die.

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers and I will put my words in his mouth…

We meet this prophet in our gospel reading.

They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers and I will put my words in his mouth

Jesus has just come back from his first struggle with the devil when he was tempted in the wilderness. He’s begun to announce the message that the kingdom of God is at hand. Now it’s the Sabbath, and as loyal Jews and worshippers of the God of Israel, it’s natural for Jesus and his followers to go to the service at the synagogue.

In the synagogue Jesus begins to teach and when he begins to speak, the crowd notices right away something very different about his teaching: ‘for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes’ (v.22).

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers and I will put my words in his mouth

The authority of Christ’s words is further demonstrated when a man with an unclean spirit approaches him.

And he cried 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 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.”

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers and I will put my words in his mouth

We are presented with a second interesting question here. What have you to do with us? You see, friends, the answer is everything.

What we have been presented with is THE gospel. Christ comes with authority in his words and with that authority cures the man with the unclean spirit, he vanquishes death. And this has everything to do with us. The authority of Christ, authority of the words of Christ, has vanquished death and has claimed you as his own as his beloved.

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers and I will put my words in his mouth

And so, Christ’s words are God’s words. God’s words are Christ’s words. He is the man whom even the winds and seas obey. He is the one that teaches as one having authority, and not as the scribes. He is the one that commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

And this same christ speaks to you and I. And the words that are spoken to you are saying that you are no longer a man wondering the synagogue with an unclean spirit.

So, one of our two interesting questions are answered. What have you, Jesus, to do with us?

Everything, For God has risen up a prophet like you and has put his words in christ’s mouth. And his words have conquered sin and death and have vanquished the unclean spirit.

The second question, the one of our small blond friend to the crocodile must be answered for yourself.  Are you listening? Can you hear me? Are you listening to the words Christ has spoken to you; That you are no longer a man wondering the synagogue with an unclean spirit? Can you hear that Christ has called you beloved?

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