SERMON: Because He said so!
“Because I say so!”
I am quite sure that some of you have used this well-known and worn-out phrase, when trying to teach your children or students to do something. These words of blind authority are often used, when we want our kids to do something or refrain from doing something, and we really don’t have a good reason why not. But we think it is best, wisest, safest, less expensive, most appropriate… not to… and when they ask: “But mom, why not…” we simply answer;” Because I say so!”
Sometimes we use these words, because we really don’t want to argue or explain why and what and who – but simply claim to have the authority and wisdom, because I am the older one, the parent or the teacher. “Because I say so!”
I still remember the first time I uttered that line as a parent – and I felt the sting of a memory and a long-forgotten promise never to use that phrase on my kids. Well, I got used to it and so did they! Because I said so!
But blind authority is not what we want our children to have as responsible independent thinking youngster and adults. They need to question authorities, they need to ask why…. And they should expect a better answer than: Because I say so!
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who lived in the third century before Christ, made many significant and lasting contributions to human knowledge, from logic to biology, from ethics, astronomy to concepts of aesthetics. He was simply known as The Philosopher[PC1] .
For centuries people believed that Aristotle, the philosopher, and teacher, was right about every claim he made, so great was his authority through time. He claimed that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely, he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whiter or not the great philosopher was right or not. But people believed his authority for centuries… because he said so.
It was not until someone nearly 2000 years later after Aristotle death, challenged this theory.
The legend tells that in 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the famous leaning tower of Pisa. Then Galileo went to the top and pushed off a ten pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. However, the power of belief was so strong, that it really didn’t matter. Because the professors denied their eyesight and continued to believe that Aristotle was right – because he said so.
But with time and with the teachings of gravity, relativity, the movement object, Gallio was proven right. With the groundwork of Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus, the authority of Aristotle on astronomy and physics were overthrown. And it fell to Isaac Newton and later Albert Einstein to bring these threads and thoughts and theories together. And they and their theories would claim authority and truth.
Because Aristotle and tradition had been saying it for thousands of years, didn’t make it true.
Because I and other mothers have told our kids hundreds of time that our authority is based on “Because I say so”, doesn’t really make it true. It just makes it easier to be a parent……
In today’s Gospel Mark tells us about the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. After his baptism in Jordan and his calling of his first disciples among the fishermen, - we listen to the story today about how Jesus taught with authority. How he entered the synagogues, the homes, and the streets, literally the lives of people and taught. He called people to follow him with authority. And he taught people with authority. They were all astounded by his teaching and his authority. He truly had the power of the words, and through his words he compelled the unclean spirits, demons, and evil voices to leave. “Because he said so.”
The Gospel tells us what kind of authority Jesus had. He was commanding the unclean evil spirits to leave and to be silent. He was teaching the old scriptures with authority and with a new perspective that captured and impressed.
The more resent philosopher Max Weber distinguishes three types of authority: the charismatic, the traditional and the legal-rational authority. Each of which corresponds to leadership in our society.
The authority of Jesus combines all three as a divine trinity of authority.
Jesus was charismatic, no doubt about that.
His presence, his attitude, his calm, his words, and his message gave him a natural or god given authority. He taught with presence and passion – and that can be heard and felt. That gave him authority. And when Jesus was confronted with the unclean spirit – Jesus simply spoke to silence it and leave. He had a goodness and a light in him that challenged and conquered all evil and darkness. A gentle authority and a passionate presence.
Consider the likes of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela as modern Charismatic leaders with a mission to unite people amid adversity and differences. Not with bold, bombastic, bragging self-assured authority, but with an honest, soft-spoken, humble authority.
Jesus also processed a traditional legal rational authority, as he knew his scriptures, the Thora, the laws and regulations of his time and Jewish religion.
But he never used his authority to promote his own person or power, but always to focus on the other, the ones he met on his way, the women, the children, the tax collectors, the poor or the sick.
This kind of authority is quite unique.
This kind of authority that Jesus was teaching with and living by, was startling to anybody who met him or heard him. A god given authority based on everything good, true, and bright.
An authority that was charismatic and compelling, compassionate, and convincing.
Jesus said so. But he just didn’t say so, he also did so and lived so.
What makes a person possess true authority and show true authority is that your presence corresponds with your message and words.
There was truth and trust to be found in his words.
And so, the unclean spirit, convulsing and crying, did ask: “Have you come to destroy us…?”
He was. He said so.
But he came to destroy to rebuild, to reconstruct, to reform to recreate. Jesus came to remake us in the true image of God. He did come to destroy, but to destroy the bad, the evil and the dark, as he is good. He came to remake us into the wonderful and loving human beings that God intended and created us to be in the very first place.
And if we truly listen to the words of Jesus we will:
ü hear a call to respond to the love of the one who loves us.
ü hear a call to leave fear and lies and deceits behind and to step out in freedom and forgiveness to do God’s work in God’s way in this world.
ü hear a call to love the unlovely, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to house the homeless, to cry out against any unclean meanspirited spirit of war, oppression, injustice, or indignity wherever these may have a hold on human lives and minds.
ü In that voice of authority and love, they heard, and we hear the voice of God saying: “I love you, come follow me and love and serve.” And we will follow him, because he said so. Amen