Certainty in Uncertain Times: Luke 4:31-44 – The Authority and Power of Christ

Grace For The Journey

We are making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke.  We are going to begin reading at verse 31 today.  Remember the context . . .

  • Having been baptized and having passed the tests of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus begins His earthly ministry and He does so, Luke tells us in verse 14, “in the power of the Spirit.” 
  • Having been rejected in His hometown of Nazareth, He now travels down to Capernaum where He ministers in great authority and power. 

Beginning in verse 31, we are going to be reading about the authority and power of Christ.  My aim this morning is to exalt Jesus Christ, to lift Him up.  I want to lift Him up because . . .

He alone has all authority and power

And is therefore exclusively worthy

Of our worship and praise.

I read awhile back about the late E. V. Hill, famous African-American pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.  Pastor Hill told about an elderly woman in his church whom everyone called “1800” because nobody knew exactly how old she really was.  But she had this ministry there at the church.  This woman was especially hard on preachers who may not have had much experience preaching.  She would sit on the front row and as soon as the preacher started preaching she would shout, “Get Him up!” meaning, “Get Jesus up.  Lift Him up!”  After a few minutes of preaching, if she did not feel there was enough of Christ in the sermon she would shout again, “Get Him Up!”  If the preacher wasn’t preaching a Christ-centered sermon, he was in for a long and difficult sermon!  That is exactly what my aim is this morning, to “Get Him up!”  I want to exalt Jesus Christ who has all authority and power and is therefore exclusively worthy of our worship and praise.

Because Jesus has all authority and power . . .

I.  Jesus Is Sent To Conquer Satan – Verses 31-37.

In these first seven verses we have the first of 21 miracle events recorded by Luke.  It is not insignificant that the first of these 21 miracle accounts demonstrates Jesus’ authority over Satan and the dark, spiritual realm.  We read earlier in verse 13 that Satan, after failing to conquer Jesus in the wilderness temptation, “departed from Him until an opportune time.”  Now Satan comes against Christ again, this time through a demon possessed man in the synagogue.

Jesus is in the synagogue in Capernaum and He is teaching the people.  Luke says in verse 31 that He is doing it, “on the Sabbaths.”  We remarked last time about our Lord’s habitual weekly practice of worship in God’s house.  If this was the practice of our Lord Jesus, it should be the practice of His followers.  We should be in God’s house every week to learn the Word and to encourage and minister to one another.

The people are listening to Jesus teach in the synagogue and Luke says in verse 32 that “they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.”  Most of the teaching by rabbis in the synagogue was their quoting other rabbis.  One would stand and say something like, “As Rabbi Abramson has said,” and then a quote would follow.  But Jesus stands and He quotes no one.  He speaks His Word – the Word.  You get a greater sense of this in the Sermon on the Mount where He says, “You have heard that it was said” … “But I say unto you.”  He spoke with authority and it astonished the people.  They had heard nothing like this before.

This authority and power is about to be challenged.  Imagine as He is teaching that a man suddenly cries out, “Let us alone.”  Other translations have, “Ha!  What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth!”  Now that would get your attention, wouldn’t it?  One time, at a church I was pastoring in college, my preaching was interrupted by a wasp that made some “bombing runs” down the middle of the isle.  I believe I would prefer that interruption to this!  Jesus rebukes the demonic spirit, casting him out of the man and, verse 36, “they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, ‘What a word this is!’”  Literally, they said, “’What a word this!  For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.’”

We should note in verse 34 specifically what the unclean spirit says just before being cast out. 

  • First, he says, “Let us alone.”  Demons often speak in the plural, sometimes denoting that there was more than one spirit inhabiting the body of a person. 
  • The demon also asks, “Did You come to destroy us?”  The demons know that their ultimate fate is to be cast into the abyss (Revelation 20). 
  • The demon also says in verse 34, “I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” 

It was widely believed in Jesus’ day that one showed mastery over the other by identifying the name of the other.  This, of course, does not work for the demon.  And Jesus rebukes and silences him.  Jesus is not prepared for the entire world to know His exact identity at this point and certainly not in this manner, coming from a demon of all things so He rebukes the demon.

We should also note that verse 34 demonstrates . . .

That it is possible to know Jesus Christ

And to even know His identity

As “the Holy One of God”

And yet to remain lost.

There are many people who are members of churches all across our country, including the one I pastor, who know intellectually that Jesus Christ is “the Holy One of God,” but are unsaved, unconverted, and unforgiven. 

Just knowing truth about Christ does not save. 

We must personally appropriate that truth

Into our hearts, receiving Jesus Christ

As Savior and Lord of our lives. 

We must believe with both head and heart.

It is a dangerous thing to know only the objective truth of the Gospel without having personally embraced that truth with our hearts.

When reading these examples of demonic possession, someone invariably asks why it is we do not see this as much today.  The truth is we do see it in many places outside of our country.  You will see this much more in third world countries where Satan continues to operate this way.  We may wonder then, “Why not here as much in our country?”  We must remember that Satan is highly intellectual.  He will get us where he can get us best.  He knows the best way to detract us from Christ is not through the attention getting displays of demon possession, but through the more subtle means of prosperity, greed, and self-sufficiency.  If Satan and his demonic minions can get us to fall in love with the world, then there is no need for dramatic displays of demon possession.  So, let us examine our hearts.  Is Jesus really Lord of all?  Are we trying to hold the things of God in one hand and the things of the world in the other?

If we live whole-heartedly for the Lord Jesus Christ, we have no fear of Satan.  There are Christians running around and wringing their hands because they are afraid of Satan.  There are some who are afraid to pray out loud about their innermost concerns and temptations and worries for fear that Satan will hear and learn of them and somehow triumph over them.  What lack of faith in the authority and power of Christ!  In Colossians 2:15, the Bible talks about one of the benefits to Christians as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Jesus Christ has authority and power over Satan.  We must remember, as Martin Luther, the great reformer, writes in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” that just “one little word” from Jesus causes Satan to fall. 

“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,

One little word shall fell him.”

Jesus is sent to Conquer Satan.  Secondly . . .

II.  Jesus Is Sent To Conquer Sickness – Verses 38-41.

Verses 38 and 39 tell us, “Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her.  So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them.”

I find what happens to Simon’s mother-in-law utterly amazing!  I know how weak I am even after I have had a severe cold and my fever breaks.  But . . .

So immediate and complete is our Lord’s healing

That Simon Peter’s mother-in-law who had “a high fever,”

Not just any fever, but “a high fever” gets up immediately

And serves them a meal, why?  Because, just as before,

One word from the Master is all it takes.

Such authority and power!  He just speaks the Word.  He rebukes the fever.  He talks to the fever!  He says, “Go” and it goes.  This authority and power over Satan and over sickness continues in Capernaum.  Verses 40-41 say, “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.  And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of God.’  And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.”

Jesus is sent to conquer Satan and Jesus is sent to conquer sickness.  There are three things we must remember here about healing . . .

First, Because Jesus Is The Great Physician, Then He Gets The Glory For All Healings, Whatever The Means Through Which They Come. 

If healing comes through medicine, surgery, radiation, or other means, we credit doctors for their skill and giftedness, but Christ is the One who gets the glory for it.  Our Lord may elect to heal through medicine or He may desire to just speak the Word.  In either case, He gets the glory for the healing. 

This raises the question of whether

We are in the habit of giving God

The glory for healing every time

We have been sick.

Do you thank God for healing you of a headache through the means of ibuprofen?  Do you thank God every day for the health you enjoy?  None of us can produce good health on our own, we do not even deserve good health.  We are all sinners, deserving nothing.  But if, in God’s grace, He allows us to enjoy good health, should we not be in the habit of thanking Him regularly?  May we never take our good health for granted.   Our good health comes to us as a gift from the Great Physician.

Secondly, It May Not Be The Lord’s Will To Heal Our Physical Sickness. 

Not every Christian in the New Testament was healed by our Lord.  Remember what Jesus had just said earlier when teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth.  He says back in verse 27 that there were many lepers in Israel, but Elijah was not sent to bring God’s healing to any one of them, but rather to someone living outside Israel in Syria.  And we learn from 2 Corinthians 12 that Paul had his “thorn in the flesh,” that he asked God three times to heal but God chose not to  And in 2 Timothy 4:20, Paul writes that he left a fellow believer named Trophimus in Miletus “sick.”  It is not God’s will for every person to be healed of physical sickness this side of heaven.  Sometimes, He permits sickness because He knows best.  It is not the purpose of this study to talk about all of the reasons why God may allow sickness in our lives, but let us at least acknowledge that God knows what He is doing and that He always does what is best.

Thirdly, Because Jesus Is The Great Physician, He Is The Healer Of Every sickness We May Face.

Not just physical sickness, but heart sickness, emotional sickness; worry sickness, anxiety sickness, and sickness over hurts, loss, defeat, and despair.  No, this is not to suggest that if you will just “come to Christ” all will be well, and you will never hurt again.  But it is to remind us that we have in Jesus someone who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).  We have a loving Lord who says to us, “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Rest!  Our Lord will calm your hearts this morning if you will but trust Him.  The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast your care upon Him for He cares for you.”  He will heal you of your hurts and your worries and your cares.  Just trust Him to care for you today.

Jesus can do so because He is sent not only to conquer Satan and Sickness, but thirdly . . .

III.  Jesus Is Sent To Conquer Sin – Verses 42-44.

The Bible says that following this long day of ministry Jesus gets up the next morning and finds a place of seclusion.  Verse 42-44 say, “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.  And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.”

Before we discuss the main point of these three concluding verses, I want to pause for a moment and consider the devotional practice of our Lord Jesus.  Frequently we find Him in the Scriptures going away to a secluded place for mediation with the Heavenly Father.  You know, it is not enough that we take time to read our Bibles and have a regular time of prayer.  This is very important!  Most of us do not do that as we should.  But, in addition to our daily prayer time and Bible reading, we ought to periodically get away and just be quiet somewhere before God.  Jesus just disengages and gets away to be quiet before God.  He had to go somewhere where the people were not.  He went away from the crowds of people and got alone before God.

And again, we find ourselves confronted with the question that if this was the practice of our Lord Jesus, how much should it also be the practice of those who follow Him?  And how much more important given our busied barrage of noisy and bothersome technology: televisions, radio, CDs, DVDs, laptops, cell phones, texting, tweeting, and gaming?  We must “unplug” every once in awhile and get away somewhere and just be quiet before God.  Failing to do so increases our vulnerability to worldly temptation and exposes us to the unhappy prospect of backsliding into sin.  Let’s follow the Master’s example and periodically get away from it all and be quiet before God.

The crowd manages to locate Jesus and they are all like, “Hey, Jesus!  Come on!  Let’s get back to the town!  Everyone is asking about You!”  But Jesus says in verse 43, “I must preach (that is, “evangelize,” or, “share the Good news about”) the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”  That phrase, “the kingdom of God,” is the first of 31 references in Luke’s Gospel.  The kingdom of God refers more to God’s reign than it does to a specific place.  The “kingdom of God” is both a present and future reality.  If we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then the kingdom of God breaks into our lives.  God reigns in our hearts.  But one day, when Christ returns, He will set up a literal kingdom and God will reign on the earth.  So the kingdom can be a present reality to all who trust Christ.

The kingdom of God is the Good News of the Gospel coming into our lives and freeing us from the bondage of sin.  Jesus Christ was so focused upon His mission that, inspite of the fact that great things were happening there in Capernaum, He says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom elsewhere, too.”  Why?  “Because for this purpose I have been sent.”  Jesus is sent to conquer sin.  No one city has exclusive rights to the Gospel.  The Gospel is for all peoples in all places.  The Gospel is for people in the community, the commonwealth, the country, and the continents.  The Gospel is for everyone.  The Gospel is for you.  The Bible declares in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only, unique, one-of-a-kind Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not die, but have everlasting life.”

“For this purpose,” says Jesus, “I have been sent.”  He has been sent.  Have you received Him?  If not, do so right now.  Admit to yourself and God that you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself.  Turn to Jesus Christ and accept what He has done upon the cross and through the empty tomb.  Ask Him to be your Savior and Lord.   Then live under His authority and in His power.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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