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Jesus' Love Is Stronger

Theme: Following Jesus' example of love - 4th Sunday after Epiphany (Yr. B)
Object: Rock, Scissors, Paper game
Scripture: The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." Mark 1:27 (NIV)

Most of you probably know how to play the game "Rock, Scissors, Paper." It is a game about who is the stronger. The Rock is strong (make a fist) so it can break scissors (make scissors with two fingers), but scissors can cut paper (hold your hand out flat), and the paper is stronger than the rock because paper can cover rock. Two or three people can play the game. To start the game, put your fist in the palm of your hand and as one of the players counts to three you bring your fist down three times into your hand. On the third count you make rock, paper or scissors. Since each thing is stronger than something else, the stronger one wins. Oh, I forgot to tell you, the winner gets to slap the wrist of the other person. Ouch! That hurts!

"Rock, Scissors, Paper" is only a game, but in real life some boys and girls may try to show that they are stronger than others too. Some children may try to show they are stronger by acting tough. Others may try to show that they are stronger by saying mean things to other children. Some may pick on children that they think are weak. Some may even try to show that they are stronger by beating up on other children. Ouch! That hurts!

In our Bible lesson today, Jesus shows us how strong he is. One Sabbath day, Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. There was a man there who was possessed by an evil spirit. When Jesus went near him, the man cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, you are the holy one of God."

"Be quiet!" Jesus said. Then he spoke to the evil spirit, "Come out!" Do you know what happened? The evil spirit did exactly what Jesus told it to do. The evil spirit came out of the man and the people were amazed. They couldn't believe that Jesus was stronger than the evil spirits.

The people looked at one another and asked, "What is this? He gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him."

Jesus showed that he has power over evil. He showed that he is stronger than our worst enemy. But the best thing about Jesus is that he never uses his strength to hurt people. Instead of a slap on the wrist, or taking what he wants by force, he uses his power to help people. That's because Jesus came to earth to show God's love for us. When you and I follow Jesus' example, we will use our strength in a loving way to help others rather than than to hurt them.

Dear Father, help us to show Jesus' love as he showed your love. Help us to follow his example and use our strength to help others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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Alternate sermon for Mark 1:21-28: "Who Is in Control?"
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