Readings for January 31, 2021
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Writer, philosopher and lay theologian GK Chesterton once wrote, “If there were no God, there would be no atheists.” An atheist, technically an anti-theist, has no argument if God isn’t, well, God. Instead, the argument of an atheist is one that is against man’s concept of and belief in God, the very theory of God (theology). In that sense, the atheists’ argument seems to collapse and support Chesterton’s logic–if there is no God, it is merely an existential discussion to argue that something that does not exist, in fact does not exist.
In Capernaum, I would guess that despite Jesus having “taught as one who had authority,” there were some who still did not believe that Jesus was from God. That said, if there were people who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, they were given ample proof by an unexpected source. The demons themselves knew who Jesus was. The Gospel account, early in the ministry of Jesus, shows a demon as the first to proclaim Jesus the Christ, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
For their part, those listening to Jesus seemed more interested in his “authority” than they were with him being the “Holy One of God,” a recurring theme in both the Gospel of Mark and Matthew. Those present ask one another, “who is this guy? Even the bad guys listen and obey.” Yet did anyone, anyone at all, ask “did you hear what the bad guy said?” By all accounts, the Jews at the time of Jesus were on the lookout for the Messiah, but their expectations of what that would look like distracted them from seeing that he was in their midst. And while they were focused on Jesus’ authority, the demon departed, perhaps the only witness who actually knew Jesus was the Christ.
For our part, we have the authority of salvation history. While a non-believer, or an atheist, may have their own belief systems on how and why the world was created, I’ll take the word of the demons, who were, most decidedly, anti-theist but knew of God’s existence and Christ’s authority. And if even the demons can recognize him, I can accept him as my Savior.
My Lord Jesus, may I understand your authority, hear your words, and believe that you are the Christ, God made flesh to save me from my own sin. May your sorrowful sacrifice and glorious resurrection be the final argument of God’s love poured out through you. Amen