often seek for deep meaning in the Scriptures. Sometimes the meaning is right
in front of us; the best method of teaching is still by example:
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching,
for His message was with authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed
by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,
"Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, 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
quiet and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down
in the midst of the people, he came out
of him without doing him any harm. And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, "What
is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits
and they come out." And the report about Him was spreading into every locality
in the surrounding district. Then He got up and left
the synagogue, and entered Simon's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was
suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over
her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and
waited on them. While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them
to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Demons
also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But
rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be
the Christ. When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the
crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going
away from them. But He said to them, "I must
preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this
purpose." So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
(Luke 4:31-44 NASB)
may begin by examining this passage carefully, looking at Jesus as God’s worker
– as one of us might be.
first thing we note is the authority in which God’s worker moves and acts. In
our day all authority seems to come from the government; we forget that all authority
belongs to Christ. What can we see here?
comes from responsibility; they walk hand in hand in the kingdom of God. If you have authority to cast out demons, you are obliged to use it. God
is the perfect leader, and in his work authority and responsibility
match. So, ultimately, will reward.
is carried personally. There is no sense in which we can see Jesus acting
as if, “Today I will assume the role of exorcist.” The president does not
cease to be the president because he goes upstairs and puts on his
pajamas. God’s worker does not cease to be God’s just because he’s on his
secular job. Authority is personal.
authority now descends from Christ, to whom all authority is given. If
you cannot trace your authority back to him – usually through the
responsibility you are given – then you don’t have it.
sometimes puzzles readers why Jesus commanded the demons to be silent – when
they were telling the truth in their terror. But is it not obvious that the
legions of light can have nothing to do with the darkness? The example is not
limited to ancient times:
now hear the pantheist chant: “all religions are equally true.” Which is
to say, they are all equally false. Does anything else in this world have
such a characteristic? To use the obvious example, are all presidential
candidates equal? If so, why an election? Why not just flip a coin, or
righteousness is not just proclaimed – it is practiced. You cannot teach
righteousness on Sunday and live wickedly throughout the week – and expect
God to honor your Sundays.
well: this is not the self-righteousness that condemns the sinner, but
the God-righteousness that condemns the sin.
the sun was setting”
that Jesus works while there is opportunity to work. God gives opportunity for
us to work, and expects us to use it.
an opportunity, by definition, has a starting time. It also has an ending
time. He will not be pleased if we spend the time in between debating
what to do, waiting to be sure or engaging in analysis paralysis.
work must continue “until sunset.” We are not privileged to decide that
we can retire from God’s work. Such retirement is death – one way or
this hard? If you think so, please remember that what you love to do
defines who you are. Duty will eventually be cast aside in age; love will
soldier can stay on the front lines indefinitely. There must be a time when
they are relieved of this duty – and go to prepare and repair. To prepare? To
prepare for whatever might come next; to repair whatever has been damaged in
sets us the example: he frequently and regularly goes out into a secluded
place to seek the Father in prayer.
does so even as there are those pressing him to remain and continue
healing; so his inner life precedes his outer life.;
thing I have noticed: this is easy to do in time of pain. It is much more
difficult in time of triumph – when it is often needed the most.
may also take a lesson from those around Jesus, particularly Peter’s
invite him in
homes are our fortresses. It is there we feel we can hide our failings and
quirks from the rest of the world. We put a roof on to keep the rain out; we
put a door on to keep the world out.
the worker of God opens the door of his home – spiritual or physical – to
the Lord. If you want to be effective for him, there can be no fortress
held against him.
is not a grudging entry; it is the invitation of hospitality. For our
guests we sacrifice the present, the pleasant and the private; do we do
the same for our Lord?
invite him in. Christ is the perfect gentleman; he stands at the
door and knocks. We must bid him welcome.
bring him to their troubles
not “they bring their troubles to him.” There is a difference. When you bring
your troubles to Jesus, you are asking him to fix them – and nothing else.
When you bring him to your troubles, you are asking him to do what he knows to
be the best for you.
of course, is a risk. A very large risk indeed. For Jesus may decide that
what you thought needed a coat of paint really needs to be torn down and
rebuilt. You should expect him to do more than solve the problem; you should
expect him to reward such faith with his blessing. He will – if you will trust
him completely in this.
are saved to serve
is a mercy that we have no record that this woman stood up and began to shout
“Glory, Hallelujah.” Some of us are blessed – and won’t let the rest of the
world forget it.
woman, however, understands what to do with a blessing. She is saved to
serve. She knows she cannot repay the blessing given – but she can pass it on
to the next person. Being blessed does not make you a plaster saint. We are
servants of God, not icons.
the people around
warning should be given: acting like a committed Christian does not
necessarily produce the reactions you might expect.
is not just the healing that astounds them; it is the authority in which it is
done. It is completely new to them.
it’s not normal. Healing isn’t normal. Neither is the degree of charity
we are called to have. Nor is the degree of devotion. We’re not normal.
Get used to it. This can either be a barrier (look at the weirdoes) or a
bridge (God loves even me?).
this is the church – not the Rotary club. We are not a human
organization, but Christ’s own creation. We should walk in his power and
walk can also provoke resentment. The unrighteous will find us
unreasonably uncompromising. The ordinary man will find us marching to
the different drummer, and therefore unpredictable. Either way, we will
be very uncomfortable to them.
is a dependable part of the human mind: if it’s news, it will spread fast.
It’s different, noteworthy, weird, odd, quirky – whatever, we will spread it.
you see, are not only insatiably curious, they love to be in the position of
the story teller. We sometimes forget that “gospel” means “good news.” When
people see it in our lives, the word spreads.
that has its edge, too. When such news arrives, it obliges the hearer to make
a decision. Even the sound of good works causes the reflection, “I wish I was
like that.” The light comes; the darkness flees.
for those outside the faith, our desire is the same as always: that they might
indeed hear the Good News. We often see classes that tell us that we can learn
the secrets of spreading the Good News. There is no secret. But there is a
guiding principle: lift Him up. If your life exalts Christ, others will know
– and know why.
however, we also seek Him. It is a search which draws us ever closer to him, a
search which cannot end in this life. But someday – may it be soon, Lord – we
shall see him face to face.