By Mark Potma
Luke 4:31 – 44
“And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath,32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”
These last verses from the fourth chapter of Luke reveal Jesus to us in all his power and authority. First, we see him casting a demon out a man in the synagogue – confronting evil head-on. Then he is restoring Simon’s mother-in-law back to full health, and then healing many people of various diseases and casting out even more demons. Finally, Jesus goes to a desolate place, but people follow him there, too. He reminds them of the purpose of why he was sent: “to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 4:43)
This Scripture passage gives us evidence of Jesus’ authority and power. Jesus entered into this broken and desperate world with a hope and a purpose. Jesus came to fix what was broken. And Jesus provides this hope and purpose to each one of us today. What is hurting in our lives? What is broken? What is lacking? What needs to be renewed? Jesus is here to heal, to fix, to fill, and to restore. Jesus is going head-to-head against the forces of evil, ultimately to destroy evil once and for all, and to usher in the fullness of the kingdom of God.
Jesus is the only one who can accomplish all of this – not just because of what he does or what he says, but because of who he is. Jesus is the great I AM, the Holy One of God, sent by the Heavenly Father to redeem us and to reconcile the world back to God. Even the demons recognized Jesus’ power and authority and obeyed his word! And Jesus won the ultimate victory on the cross. By crying out, “It is finished!”, Jesus defeated Satan, sin, suffering, and death. Yes, Satan still has limited ability to wreak havoc in the world and in people’s lives, but his days are numbered. We already know how it ends – God wins, and Satan will be destroyed!
But until that great and glorious day comes, our world continues to suffer under the curse of sin and disobedience to God. Sickness, sorrow, sadness, suffering and death continue to be a part of the human condition. It reminds us of the consequences of rebellion against God, and it increases our longing for Jesus to come again and to make all things new. In the mean time we do desire to “make the world a better place” – to restrain evil and improve what is in our control. But it is ultimately beyond our power to remove all hate, pride, lust, greed, and murder from the world. Any amount of money or politics or medicine or military or medicine that we throw at the problems of this world will simply delay the inevitable. Only Jesus can redeem and restore this world, and it is only by casting ourselves upon his mercy and grace that we can experience true hope and joy, peace and forgiveness.
When we come face to face with Jesus, when we experience his healing and renewal in our lives, when we repent and give our lives over to him as our Lord and King, our response and desire is to worship him and to serve him. We see this with Peter’s mother-in-law, who immediately rose and began to serve those who had come to bring her healing. The people who witnessed Jesus casting out demons went throughout the region, sharing with everyone who would listen about the wonderful deeds and words of Christ, the Messiah. When we worship, we recognize Jesus for who he truly is – the Holy Son of God, the Saviour of the world.
So why hasn’t Jesus removed all evil and suffering from the world? If he did that, he would at the same time need to eradicate that segment of mankind that is currently rejecting him and actively working to thwart his purpose. There is still evil in the world because there are still evil people in the world. And the fact that there are still evil people in the world is, in fact, the evidence of God’s amazing patience with this world and with fallen humanity. God’s patience has not yet run out. Today is still the day of salvation. God is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
How then should we respond to today’s passage in Luke 4? Yes, we really need to pray and serve to help end suffering in the world. But that is not our ultimate calling. God is most glorified when we are loving, worshipping, and serving him. Even more, we can multiply this joyful worship buy inviting others to enter into a loving and saving relationship with the Almighty God through Jesus Christ. We need to know and heed the words of Scripture and be led and filled by the Holy Spirit. The gifts that we have been given are meant for us to serve through the body of Christ, to reach those who are lost and hurting, and in this way to “preach the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 4:43). Maranatha – come, Lord Jesus!