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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany of Our Lord

Luke 4:31–44

James T. Batchelor

Epiphany 4, series C
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Jan 31, 2016 

Todays reading from the Gospel immediately follows last weeks reading.  In fact, if we read the end of last weeks reading and the beginning of this weeks reading, it goes like this: But passing through their midst, he went away. And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. (Luke 4:3031, ESV)

Last week, we heard that the people of Nazareth responded to the Epiphany of Jesus by trying to throw Him from a cliff.  Therefore, Jesus went away.  Todays reading tells us where He went when He left Nazareth.  He went to Capernaum.

Once again, the people marveled at His teaching.  He preached with authority.  A similar account in Matthew helps us understand what it meant to teach with authority.  When Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:2829, ESV)

Apparently, the scribes taught by quoting other authorities.  One important rabbi said this, another rabbi said that, and still another rabbi said something else entirely.  By the time they finished quoting all the conflicting views from all the important rabbis, the listener had no better understanding of the truth of the text than when the scribe started teaching.

On the other hand, Jesus pointed to the text of Holy Scripture, unpacked its meaning clearly, and the hearer knew what it meant when He was finished.  The meaning might bring the terror of the law, or it might bring the comfort of the gospel.  In either case, the meaning came through with clear confidence from the mouth of preacher Jesus.

As great as Jesus teaching was, there was a being in the synagogue that day who could not stand it.  And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you arethe Holy One of God. (Luke 4:3334, ESV) The clear preaching of the Word of God can only bring terror to the evil angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God.  There is no comfort for them no salvation.  There is only the future of eternal punishment.  The demons believeand shudder! (James 2:19, ESV)

God created the unclean demons as good angels, but they rebelled.  The unclean demons are all eternal beings who have existed from the time they were created during the six days of creation.  They know that they are creatures of God and they hate Him.  As beings who have lived from the dawn of time, they know that the Bible is true and they hate it.  They know that God loves you and so they hate you.

Notice also that the demon showed up in the synagogue.  This teaches us that demons have no respect for holy places.  In fact, they seek out holy places so that they can corrupt them.  Although the demon was obviously acting out on this day, we cannot assume that anyone in the synagogue had any idea that this man was demon possessed.  He may have been a respected member of the synagogue community.  Who knows how much damage this demon possessed man had done as a respected member of the synagogue community?

But now Jesus is here.  The demon can no longer go undercover in his man.  The presence of the Holy One of God is more than he can stand.  His cover is blown.  He has been made.  His only choice is one last act of rebellion.

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. (Luke 4:35, ESV) There is no contest.  This Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh.  Just as God created this demon as a good angel through that Word, so also that same Word orders this rebellious demon to leave.

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! (Luke 4:36, ESV) The demonic outburst has backfired.  Now, all the people in that synagogue know that Jesus has the authority and power to command demons.  The demon has inadvertently provided an opportunity for the people of Capernaum to have an epiphany.  It is not surprising that reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. (Luke 4:37, ESV)

Now, as amazing as things were in the synagogue, the day is not over yet.  It was the custom for one of the members of the synagogue to provide the Sabbath meal for the teacher of the day.  So it was that Jesus went home with Simon. 

In the course of the normal conversations that happen at such occasions, Simon mentioned that his mother-in-law was very ill with a high fever.  Once again, Jesus demonstrated His power and authority.  He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. (Luke 4:39, ESV)

Notice that Jesus rebuked the fever.  The word rebuke is the exact same word used to describe Jesus words to the demon in the synagogue.  The exact same power and authority that cast out the demon also has the authority and power to cast out the fever.  The healing was so complete that Simons mother-in-law needed no period of recovery.  Instead, she was immediately able to resume her vocation of hostess.

It didnt take long for the word to spread and as soon as the sun went down and the Sabbath was officially over, everyone from the surrounding countryside brought their sick and injured friends and relatives to Jesus.  Jesus healed them all.  He even dealt with several more people who were demon possessed.

The common thread through all of these events is the power and authority of Jesus.  He taught with power and authority.  He rebuked demons with power and authority.  He even rebuked a fever with power and authority.  Jesus speaks to nature and nature listens and obeys.  Jesus speaks to spiritual powers and they listen and obey.  A little word from Jesus has power and authority over all things.

Jesus brought His power and authority to us in order to undo the damage that sin had done to His creation.  Every sickness that He healed, every demon that He cast out, every person that He raised from the dead was a reversal of the curse of sin.  Every healing was a sign that pointed forward to the ultimate healing that Jesus worked for us.

The ultimate, eternal healing that Jesus worked for us happened on a cross.  On that cross, Jesus suffered the final, eternal consequence of our sin.  He endured the full punishment of sin for us.  He endured the full wrath of God in our place.  He satisfied the judgment of God against our sin.  He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)

The healing that Jesus gives to us was authenticated by His resurrection from the dead.  Through His resurrection we have the promise that all His work His perfect life and His sacrifice on the cross all His work is for us.  He promises that we shall rise just as He rose.  He promises that we shall also live with Him in heaven forever.

What is behind His promise of salvation?  The power and authority of His word the same Word that created the whole universe out of nothing The same Word that continues to sustain and keep all things in existence; That very Word became Flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  That Holy Word revealed Himself in Capernaum with power and authority.  All things are possible with His Word.

By the power of His Word joined to the water of Baptism, Jesus joins us to Him in His life, suffering, death, and resurrection.  His righteousness becomes our righteousness.  The punishment He endured on the cross was credited to our account.  His burial becomes our burial and His resurrection assures us that we too will rise from the dead to live with Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

By the power of His Word, He gives us His true body and blood under bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink.  Through this sacrament He offers forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  He strengthens us in the one, true faith that leads to life everlasting.

Through this Word, the Holy Spirit changes unbelieving enemies of God into faithful children.  We cannot produce faith, our own or anyone elses.  Instead the Holy Spirit calls us by Gods word.  He gathers us all together in one, holy, Church that is eternally united with Jesus Christ.

Christs Word is powerful.  It has what we need.  It does what it says.  Christs Word has power and authority the power and authority to rebuke demons the power and authority to rebuke fevers the power and authority to save your soul. Amen

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