“They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue, a man with an unclean spirit 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 with a loud voice came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one other, ‘What is this? A new teaching— with authority? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him. At once his fame began to spread thought the surrounding region of Galilee.” (Mark 1: 21-28, NRSV)
In our text Jesus Becomes Famous: At least in the tiny region of Galilee.
It is often said that, "Fame is Fleeting." Indeed, this information age says that each of us will eventually have our fifteen minutes of fame. Many of us have had the television spotlight, at least on local news, and have had friends call and say, "I saw you on TV, and it’s true that television made you look fatter!"
I hosted a cable TV program through Trinity Broadcasting in Augusta in the late 70's. Sure enough folks started stopping me in Wall-Mart and asking, "Aren't you that guy on television?"
Jesus became famous after performing miracles and preaching with authority in the synagogues of Galilee. It was inevitable that folks would discover him when he began to reveal his divinity and his purpose as the Lamb of the New Covenant. Of course, his enemies found him out too. Jesus fame eventually led to his crucifixion. If he had remained at home and quiet he would have never been found out. However, his whole mission was to bring about the Passion of the Cross in order to be our Sin Bearer and the Savior of the World.
Popularity usually brings with it new problems. The problem with popularity is when we live for popularity itself, at any price. The quest for fame is that too many are willing to sell out too cheaply. In fact, one use of the word “popular,” means cheap whenever a clerk suggests that you may be more interested in the popularly priced item.
But don’t all people want to be famous? Archie Bunker of the old sitcom, “All in the Family,” could be an exception. That slovenly character just wanted the creature comforts afforded by a family. He saw himself as a “working stiff.” Some people kind of go into hiding to avoid notoriety.
God calls us to take a stand for Him. It may be as simple as taking up for righteousness and our Christian Faith in the conversations in the break room at work. Or, some may be caught up in Television News and have an opportunity to reach out to the world for what's right. And our fame might get us crucified.
When baseball fans hear the word “fame,” they are thinking about “The Baseball Hall of Fame” in Cooperstown, NY. So very few ever make it in, literally only one in a million of little leaguers are elected into the Hall of Fame. Bruce Suiter was elected just a few weeks ago. His claim to fame was the invention of the “split fingered fastball.” It made a lot of batters look foolish and mystified all.
Some people would do anything for fame. The recent singing and dancing television programs well illustrate the lengths contestants will go to find fame.
Kids in school will go to any extreme in order to be “popular.” It has always been that way. At least at Asheboro High School it was a big deal to be popular, and known and respected by all.
Popularity causes problems when it is popularity at any price.
Jesus attained the popularity of fellow Galileans and most of us, given the choice, would have laid back and lived a life of a big fish in the little pond of Northern Palestine, Galilee. But fame was not Jesus’ calling and destiny. He had his eyes on fulfilling God’s highest calling ever.
Would we risk the little bit of popularity that we already have in order to fulfill God’s higher purpose? Jesus did, and with his help we can too.
It is not popularity that a committed servant of God wants to achieve anyway. We have known folks who have turned down a lucrative promotion in their career because they knew that the new job would steal their heart away from their family, friends and God.
It happens to Pastors too. There is that desire among us all to be liked so preachers sometimes water down the Gospel. A popular book of the recent past illustrates my point. I’m OK, Your OK by Thomas Harris. However, in the world of Christ’s Church there are just some things that are not OK. Actually, the thing that can give us that OK attitude is from God. A positive attitude comes from knowing that we are on track with His plan for our lives.
Jesus’ real fame, which will last forever, came to him when he was crucified and resurrected. This is the unique event in his life that still has the world wandering if it can be true.
Jesus is more that popular or famous to those of us to have come to know him in a very personal way. Jesus is beloved and indeed worshiped by many millions of ardent followers. He is our Savior. He has made us into what we are by his redemptive grace.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor