The Great Physician Luke 4:38-44

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

I can imagine that Doctor Luke was truly amazed at the stories of Jesus’ healing ministry. He healed many, including Peter’s mother-in-law (always wants to make me ask Roman Catholics about the practice of celibacy since the first reported pope was married). The point here is that many came to be healed by the Great Physician.

Jesus also had power to heal from supernatural causes, casting out demons simply by His word. Yet, the most important healing came in the healing of peoples’ souls. It is the proclamation of the good news that is His mission on earth. That is why He was sent. Not these other healings, even though these cures were used to get peoples’ attention. Wouldn’t you listen to someone who healed you of leprosy, cancer, blood issues, other things? I would.

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

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The Cosmic Battle Begins in the Public Arena Luke 4:31-37

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Jesus is ready to begin the cosmic battle out in the open. He has been baptized. He has been tempted. He has been threatened in His hometown. But the real battle begins when He has to deal with demons/evil spirits.

Right in the middle of His teaching He is confronted by a man possessed by an evil spirit. The spirit acknowledges Jesus as the One sent from God, but it must have been done in a condescending, sneering sort of way. And Jesus uses this opportunity to show the people that not only does He speak with authority when it comes to the word of God, He speaks with authority over the demonic world.

This is something new, something that must surely be heaven sent. No man messes with demons and lives to tell about it. Yet this Man, this carpenter from Nazareth, does that very thing. And the demon listens, leaving the man unharmed.

The power and authority of Jesus is simply out of this world. The sense of amazement is seen throughout the rest of the story of the Messiah. Some follow Him. Others reject Him. Sort of makes me wonder. If Jesus were to be alive today and did such marvelous things as casting out demons, would people still refuse to follow Him? Of course. Yet, even though I have not seen Him do these things, I accept Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Lord of Life is Lord of my life. Hopefully He is yours too.

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

Home Town Prophet: Part 2 Luke 4:22-30.

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Crowds are fickle. They are easily swayed by public opinion. When the people of Nazareth hears Jesus they are amazed. But that amazement quickly turns to consternation when they realize what Jesus is actually claiming.

In the Gospel of John the Jewish religious elite are out to do away with this self-proclaimed Messiah, but here His first adversaries are people from His home town. I suspect His brothers were even in the crowds. And they are not wanting to put Him away in a loony bin. They want Him dead.

For Jesus to remain faithful to His mission even from early on, with constant opposition from those He grew up with, wasn’t easy. Yet he perseveres. He walks right through the crowds and continues His mission, proclaiming His message elsewhere.

This story makes me wonder. Do I actually reject the message of this Man from Nazareth sometimes? Would I rather have Him dead so I can do what I want to do? But, as Peter says later in the story, “who can I go to who has the words of life?” Jesus of Nazareth, and only Him, satisfies what I and you need in this life and the life to come.

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

 

Home Town Prophet? Luke 4:14-21

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. (John 1:46). Nazareth was a close knit village made up mainly of shepherds and a carpenter named Joseph. Nothing earth-shattering about this little burg. Yet this is the very place that the Son of God, Son of Man was raised. Apparently Jesus had already been doing some amazing things in Capernaum, yet Nazareth is where He wants to officially announce and begin His ministry.

He spoke in synagogues. He performed miracles. He spoke as One with authority, baffling most of the people who heard Him. And now He chooses to claim Messiahship in His hometown. His text for this marvelous, yet confusing, message is Isaiah 61:1-2, a continuation of the Messianic part of the prophet’s writings.

The message is one of hope for the oppressed, both physically and spiritually. The Messiah was coming to set things right. He has the power of God residing in Him. He is to proclaim good news, freedom, recovery of sight, and the year of the Lord’s favor. The time has come for God to act. Decisively, once for all time, for all people.

And this simple, hometown boy is claiming that all of this is fulfilled in Him. Imagine the reaction of those who knew Him best.

Two thousand years later many respond in similar fashion. But there are those who accept Him for who He says He is. That is the Lord I worship and serve. He is the Messiah!

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

Jesus Passes the Initial Test Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

We have already seen Jesus’ credentials, the lineage back to Adam and the commissioning of God Himself. Yet, before His public ministry can begin, the adversary, Satan himself, comes to tempt/test this God/Man.

Notice that these three trials are a direct attack on different parts of who Jesus is. First, Satan goes for the human side, hunger. I can’t imagine going without food for forty days. I have fasted before for three days and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But forty days? That in itself seems an impossibility. No wonder Satan is going for the quick kill so to speak by testing Jesus to use His power to turn stones into bread.

Yet Jesus rebuffs the tempter, reminding the crafty one that man does not live on bread alone.

Then Satan attacks the purpose that Jesus comes, to be King of the world. Satan is offering Jesus something that was to be the goal of Jesus’ coming in the first place. And he was offering it instantly. The only price Jesus had to pay was to worship Satan.

Again Jesus rebuffs the deceiver by reminding him that only God is to be worshiped.

Satan’s third attack is directed at Jesus’ divinity. His logic is good here. If Jesus is truly the Son of God nothing should be able to harm Him. It’s almost like Satan is saying, okay, prove to me and to yourself that you are truly God’s Son.

Jesus once again thwarts Satan’s attack with the words “do not put God to the test.” Interesting approach since that is exactly what Satan is doing with Jesus, putting God to the test.

Of course, the key to this first confrontation is Jesus’ use of Scripture to ward off Satan. When we find ourselves going through times of trial, and we can be guaranteed these times, it is best to go to God and His word to battle Satan. If we try on our own, we will lose. But if we trust God and know His word, we can overcome, just like Jesus did.

This is not the last time Satan will try to disrupt the plan of God. Yet Jesus is ready to start His mission.

How does Satan attack you and me? And are we ready for those attacks, whether they are frontal forays or sneaky encounters from places we would never suspect. Be on our guard by reading His word, praying, and constantly and consistently be with other  believers who are fighting the same good fight.

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

Jesus Begins His Ministry Luke 3:21-38

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, . . . (Luke 3:21-23).

I look at his section of Luke as a way for the good doctor/historian to show the qualifications of Jesus as Messiah. It also shows who He came to save. Whereas Matthew’s genealogy is for a Jewish audience and traces Jesus’ lineage to Abraham, Luke’s genealogy is for a Gentile audience and traces Christ’s line back to Adam. But that is the human evidence.

Much more convincing to me is what happens at Jesus’ baptism. Luke doesn’t go into much detail about this event as does Matthew. But the key element is there, the holy Spirit descends like a dove and God the Father speaks, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

There is no better way for a commissioning to happen than to have the word of God affirm who you are. By extension, if we are faithful followers of this Jesus the Messiah, one day we too will hear the words of our Lord, “well done good and faithful servant”  . . .

How are you going to serve Him today? How am I?

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

 

 

The Ministry of John the Cousin of Jesus: Part 4 Luke 3:15-20

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

There are some dangers when one proclaims the good news. First, if you are convincing and people start to follow your words and change their lives because of what you said, a celebrity cult can arise. John had to deal with this. The people wanted to, hoped that, this John, who baptized so many of them, was indeed the Messiah. Unlike so many “celebrities” today, John did not let the acclaim go to his head. He consistently pointed people to the One following him. The One who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

I think this baptism with or in the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a gift from God Himself, residing in each and every believer. The “with fire” phrase is describing the kind of change that is necessary for the people of God to live the changed lives John teaches them to live. It is the difference between the old self and the new self.

Not only did John have to guard against a growing popularity within the ranks, he also had outside threats from people who didn’t want to hear his message. When you step on the toes of people in authority, people who have the power to throw you into prison, that is exactly what can, and, in this case, did happen. Yet, I’m sure, John knew this could happen. He knew what kind of man Herod was.

And so it has been throughout the two millennia of the church. Proclaimers of the word of God have known the possibility of persecution, and proclaimed it anyway. They have known that they could have popularity or prestige or power and the true proclaimers of God shunned it all to serve Him faithfully. (One thinks of Dietrich Bonhoeffer standing up to the likes of Adolf Hitler).

I have dealt with the “put on the pedestal” syndrome in places where I have served as the pastor. I hope I faithfully pointed people to Jesus as John did. But I haven’t been thrown into prison (at least not yet) for being a strong, faithful witness to the Messiah. The popularity cult is alive and well in “Christian” America. Maybe someday the persecuted church will come here as well. Then we will see who the real proclaimers are.

Until next time,

TO THE GLORY OF GOD!