The Example of Christ
we learn best just by watching what the Master does. We shall see in his
words, his actions and by inference his inner life some of what we as
Christians should be doing.
The Holy Bible, New
21They went to Capernaum, and when
the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the
synagogue and began to teach. 22The
people were amazed at his teaching,
because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the
23Just then a man in their
synagogue who was possessed by an evil£ spirit cried
out, 24“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come
us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
25“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come
out of him!” 26The evil spirit shook
the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27The 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.” 28News about him spread quickly
over the whole region of Galilee.
29As soon as they left the
synagogue, they went with James and John to the
home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon’s
mother-in-law was in bed with a fever,
and they told Jesus about her. 31So
he went to her, took her hand and helped her
up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32That evening after sunset the
people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-
possessed. 33The whole town
gathered at the door, 34and Jesus
healed many who
had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the
demons speak because they knew who he was.
35Very early in the morning, while
it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the
house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his
companions went to look for him, 37and
when they found him, they exclaimed:
“Everyone is looking for you!”
38Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can
preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39So he traveled throughout Galilee,
preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
40A man with leprosy£ came to
him and begged him on his knees, “If you are
willing, you can make me clean.”
41Filled with compassion, Jesus
reached out his hand and touched the man. “I
am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was
43Jesus sent him away at once with a
strong warning: 44“See that you don’t
tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the
Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45Instead he
out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no
longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people
still came to him from everywhere.
often hear that we should be Christians in action, not words. There is truth
in that; we should not be “mouth-Christians” only. But that does not mean
that we should keep silent. Indeed, we are commanded to proclaim him.
key to teaching the Gospel is simply this: authority. If the teacher is to be
successful, he must teach with the authority of Christ. That is how Christ
taught, as we see here. What does that mean?
means we must teach the truth as best we see it without fear – for greater
means we must teach the truth in obedience – as one under authority – and
not simply as head knowledge.
means we must teach it without “enhancing” it. It is the Gospel as
delivered by God to man; it is in every sense sacred.
means we must teach it as the Authority would – for the benefit of our
hearers, not to puff ourselves up.
the ancient writer, commented here that Jesus taught by rebuke, not by
flattery, as the Pharisees did. As teacher, a man must remember who is Lord.
is why I have come,” says our Lord – to preach. To preach what? The Good News
of the Kingdom of God.
is good news because it tells us who Jesus is – the Messiah, the
Son of God.
is good news because it tells us what Jesus did – his sacrifice on
the Cross for our sins.
is good news because it tells us how we can receive salvation.
will say, “I am neither teacher nor preacher.” But consider if these are not
indeed requirements on all Christians:
you not commanded to have a ready answer to all who question you about the
you not commanded to be the first step in church discipline, the prompt
correction of your brother or sister?
you not commanded to share the Gospel with all, wherever you go?
suits action to words, and so should we. We can learn much from two types of
actions seen here: healing and casting out demons.
there is a consistent lesson in the healings of Jesus, it is the role of
faith. Sometimes we miss, however, our Lord’s response. The leper says, “If you
are willing…” – the implication is clear. He knows the Lord can heal; he’s
afraid that he won’t.
Lord’s reply is comforting: “I am willing.” Remember that in this day most
believed that if you became ill, it was likely enough a punishment for sin;
therefore the leper must have been sinner indeed, or so he would have thought.
Lord does not stop at that – he touches the leper. It may seem a little thing
to us today, but in that time it would make him ceremonially unclean until the
following evening. Our Lord’s healings did not always happen with a touch;
the leper would certainly understand why he would not want to touch. So why?
to show one and all who is Lord – even over the Law.
the Son of Man shows himself – for which of us has not been comforted by
might then seem contradictory to send the man to the priest to offer
sacrifices. But aside from the theology (Christ had not yet been crucified;
the old covenant is still in effect) there is the human side of this. The
leper is an outcast; until he presents these sacrifices and is certified
clean, he cannot rejoin the synagogue. Our Lord knows we need such things.
Casting out demons
word translated “evil” is actually “unclean” – evil being closer to what we
would understand today).
modern Christian casts a squinty eye at the concept of demons. We don’t see
them; we don’t see their effects; maybe this was some form of disease????
But ask the missionary about such things and you will get a different answer.
Satan’s lie to the modern man is this: “I don’t exist; so all that stuff in
the Bible about me is false; therefore the Bible is false.” But the father of
lies does not hesitate to say to those who’ve never read the Bible, “I am stronger
than any god these foreigners proclaim.” But here we see the truth.
evil spirits fear him. Why? Is it because they cannot be forgiven? Or
is it because they have knowledge – but not love?
thing is certain: when Christ comes, the evil one must flee.
that the man shook when the demon came out of him. Our Lord permits this
– as pain is often permitted – so that others might see what was truly
in no sense will Christ allow the testimony of these demons on his
behalf. It is an important lesson in purity.
are great examples in here:
mother-in-law rises from her sickbed – to serve. “Saved to serve” as the
Scots used to say – can we be that?
man with leprosy was told to bring the ceremonial offerings as a testimony
– to the priests and those around. Do we take the healings we see and
proclaim them as testimony to the world?
shame of leprosy did not stop the leper from coming to Christ; is there
something of which we are ashamed so much that we cannot bring it to him?
said that “those things men wonder at they soon divulge.” Perhaps we have lost
our sense of wonder at the mighty works of God.
The Inner Life
away in the Gospel of action is the evidence of the inner life. So many of us
“don’t have time for prayer.” So few of us even understand the contemplative
life and its virtues. Our Lord sets us an example.
Time and place
did our Lord go out, early in the morning, into a quiet place in the desert?
Perhaps it was (as ancient writers suggest) exemplary – setting an example for
us, that we should do likewise. Perhaps too it is because he is the Son of man
– fully human, and human beings need this.
that he went alone. Even in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed alone, though
he took his inner disciples with him. We need that alone time in prayer.
need it in contemplation too. We need to “think through” the things in our
life, not in formal prayer but in meditation upon his word, pondering it in our
hearts. Why do we hear nothing about the contemplative life?
evangelical church often portrays an attitude of “check your brains at the
door, this is a matter of the heart.” Our Lord never said that; he insisted
on heart, soul, mind and strength.
Often, too, we see
contemplation as the province of the Roman Catholic – especially the monk. We
see Christianity as a group exercise – loud on Sunday morning.
The world tells us
that we haven’t time for contemplation – just look at your calendar. What are
Christ tells you
that he did it; he found time alone; so can you.
you ever wonder why churches offer retreats? Maybe it’s to meet a basic
The world will intrude
thing you can count on in that quiet time with God, whether in prayer, or
contemplation – or preparing a Bible lesson: the world will interrupt as often
as possible. As soon as the Sabbath was over, the crowds came to Jesus.
sure they were polite about it. The intruders usually are. They usually have
“just one more thing” they need. That’s one reason I do my prayers at night –
the intruders have less of a chance late at night.
is a sense of “divine appointment” that must be achieved here. If you make
your time with God a sacred ritual, unthinking, he will send the intruders to
you. But if you do not make the time available, your spiritual life will fall
apart. So do not make it a hard and fast regulation; rather, make it your
spiritual habit. Then when the times of divine appointment conflict with your
time of contemplation and prayer, you will know which is right to do – just as
Jesus did here. See how the crowds prompt him – to go and preach in other
- There is a
reason for church retreats; you need them. Consider well that
- Each week
you have the brief opportunity of contemplation – at the time of
important of all: set a daily time and place for your Lord. It should be
a time of contemplation and prayer, least likely of interruptions.