Tag Archives: Sabbath

27. Jesus the Servant

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So the last time we left Jesus, the Pharisees were plotting to kill him because he had healed, once again, on the Sabbath. Because of this Jesus was quick to get out of Dodge. Not because he didn’t want to die, but because it wasn’t time for him to die yet. After he left he was followed by a large crowd and Jesus healed everyone who was ill. Not just some, the text actually says all. This account is also found in Mark but we will be reading the account found in Matthew because it includes a bit of Messianic prophesy that is worth checking out:

Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”

(Matthew 12:15-21)

I specifically want to look at the bit of prophesy that is given to us. It comes from Isaiah 42:1-4. This particular passage is about someone God calls, “my servant”. This title, “my servant” is a special title of honor that was used to describe the likes of Moses, Joshua and David. It was also used in Isaiah 42:1-9, 49:1-7;50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12. Now Israelites always assumed that they were the servant described but because of their wayward actions and blatant refusal to follow God and instead turn towards idols, they lost this honor of being God’s servants. Instead, these verses describe one person in whom God would find no fault- a perfect prototype of what a follower of God should look like. They are describing the Messiah, himself! The reason that Matthew, whose readership was mostly Jewish, often includes prophesy about the Messiah is to show them how Jesus is the 100% fulfillment of these prophesies. In other words, they didn’t have to keep looking for the promised Messiah because he was here as evidenced by their own Scriptures.

There are three times when Jesus is described by God as, “the one I love, in whom I delight.” The two other times occurred at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17) and at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).

Here’s a little rabbit trail for us to go down. No where in the Bible does it explicitly say that God is triune, or 3-in-1. This is a concept that was presented by early church fathers. One of the verses they use to support this idea (which for the record, I believe in) is verse 18 from our passage today, ” I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.” Here we see the Father conferring the Holy Spirit on the Son. 3-in-1. Three persons of God, in one deity; somehow each unique, yet joined together.

Verse 18, and also 21, is interesting because God is clearly concerned about “the nations”. He is concerned about all peoples, not just the nation of Israel. He came to them first because he wanted them to be his people of promise but because they rejected him time and time again, he opened salvation to the world. This was a foreign idea to the Jews even though it was right there in Scripture. It’s like they picked and chose which descriptions of the Messiah they liked and conveniently forgot about the parts they didn’t. God clearly cares for Gentiles, or non-Jews… which is very good news for me!

The next part, “He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets,” refers to his silence during his trial before the crucifixion. Jesus remained silent despite his accusers and their false accusations, despite the fact that he could have said one word and thousands of angels would have been there in an instant to rescue him. He was silent except for a few answers to questions.

Verse 20 is one of great mercy and grace,

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”

One of the things the Pharisees never got was Jesus’ unending grace toward sinners. We can learn a lot from Jesus here. His job until he returns is to be gentle and love the sinner. I think here of the Westboro Baptist church. These people are not doing God’s work. God’s work, until Jesus returns, is to love on people. That doesn’t mean we overlook the sin. What Jesus did was look beyond the sin and saw the hurting person underneath. Hurting people are like a reed that is already bent from life’s windstorms or a candle struggling to stay lit. In mercy Jesus sat with these people, took the time to hear and really understand these people. And when I say “these people” what I really mean is you and me. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It doesn’t matter if we’ve wrongly gotten angry or if we’ve killed someone. We deserve a traitor’s death. We are no better or worse than anyone else and to assume otherwise is to fall into the trap of self-righteousness. Thank God, for his mercy and love! Thank God, for his patience with us! This is how he deals with us and this is how we are to deal with each other. Now there is a time when Jesus will come again and reign victorious over Satan and Evil. At that point it will be Jesus’ job to dole out justice to non-belivers and believers alike. It is never our job. It is never our responsibility to judge others. Period.

I’ll step down off my soap box for now. Until next time when we look at the commissioning of the the twelve apostles…

The End.

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26. Stretch out your hand

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Sorry there was a break between postings. My laptop power cord was fried in a thunderstorm and we were without a computer for a few days. Fortunately it was just the power supply and not the whole laptop. Praise God! As a reminder, last time we found the disciples picking and eating grain on the Sabbath. Those pesky Pharisees were there to give them a hard time about “working” on the Sabbath and Jesus promptly rebukes them. This time we will learn about another healing on the Sabbath. I have to tell you that I knew Jesus did this stuff on the Sabbath but I didn’t realize how often he did it before this study. I think almost every time we read about Jesus healing, he is doing so on the Sabbath. Think maybe he is trying to drive home a point with the Pharisees? Too bad they never get it! This time we find Jesus in a synagogue on the Sabbath. Matthew makes it sound like it is later the same day as they were in the grain fields while Mark and Luke both say it occurred on a different day. To me it’s one of those details that don’t really matter if they all agree or not; it’s the story that follows that is important. Let’s read:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:9-14)

Last time we saw the focus was on the disciples breaking the law. This time we see Jesus as the “law-breaker”. They are in the synagogue and there is a man there with a bad hand. If you read the Gospel of Hebrews, an apocryphal book, the man is described as being a mason and it being his right hand that was injured. Whether that is true or not is up in the air although the way the original language is written it implies that the man’s hand was not an injury from birth. Being a mason it is quite possible that he hurt himself on the job.

Regardless, the guy had a bum hand. And the Pharisees saw this as a perfect trap for Jesus. They ask him a loaded question intended to trip up Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Their laws said that healing was only allowed in life or death situations, otherwise the patient needed to wait until Sunday for help (Jewish Sabbath was Saturday). Instead of answering their question. Jesus asks his own question about their own laws, “If any of you has a sheep that falls in a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?” His question is just as loaded as the Pharisees. Even though the sheep was in no danger in the pit, just stuck, they all would have rescued the sheep. Jesus’ point is this: If God would overlook you breaking the Sabbath to save a sheep, how much more so is would he accept healing a person, a child of God, on the Sabbath? Jesus uses their own laws against them.

I’m not sure if we’ve covered this before or not so I’ll take a minute to explain something here. You may be wondering what was the big deal about the Sabbath? Exodus 31:13-17 says,

“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

Anyone who doesn’t keep the Sabbath was worthy of death. The big problem is what does “keeping the Sabbath holy” mean. God clearly says not to do any work on the Sabbath but he doesn’t make stipulations as to what that includes. The Pharisees had comprised an oral tradition called The Talmud that had a bunch of things that they considered work. Things like healing on the Sabbath except under life or death situations was against the law. The Pharisees considered that breaking the Sabbath law, but God never said that. He just says not to do work. Right before our Matthew passage from today we see Jesus quoting Hosea 6:6 which says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” This clearly captures the heart of God. Yes, he wants the Sabbath kept holy but if there is a chance for a man to be restored to health then, for the love of mercy, heal him!

So for the love of mercy, Jesus heals him. He tells the man to stretch out his hand and when he did it was completely restored. This was pretty much the last straw for the Pharisees. If you notice it says they went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. From now on Jesus is a marked man.

Legalism is more than just keeping the law, although that is a big part of it. Legalism occurs when the keeping of the law causes an attitude of self-righteousness. If you think that keeping God’s laws or even just being a good person is enough to get you into heaven you are going to be in for a rude awakening at judgement day. It’s not that law keeping is bad. It’s actually a good thing but when you depend on that as a means of salvation then you are missing the boat! Salvation comes through faith alone.  Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is no other way to God than through faith in Jesus Christ. We keep the laws because we love him, not because it is a requirement for salvation.

The End.

24. The Healing of the Man at Bethesda- part 2

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Let’s refresh a little from last time. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. Not only did he break the Pharisaical Sabbath laws, he told the man to break them when Jesus instructed him to carry his mat. The Pharisees didn’t like this one bit. Now we see that “because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him,” (verse 16). The verb “was doing” indicates that this is not the first time that Jesus has healed on the Sabbath. Perhaps the Pharisees could have overlooked one infraction but the verb shows that this was something that had happened before and had been happening on a regular basis. This is why the Pharisees are incensed- he continually shows disregard for their laws. Let’s read:

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:16-30)

So because Jesus was breaking the law, the leaders began to persecute him. Now we don’t know exactly what that entailed but they were trying to kill him. Instead of rejoicing over the healing power of God, they would rather pout and complain that their laws were being broken… their laws! We aren’t talking about laws of God, we are talking about laws of man. These were part of the oral traditions, or Talmud, that had been handed down throughout the ages. They are not found in the Torah, or the written Jewish law.

There is coming a time, during his trial, when Jesus will remain silent before his accusers but for right now we see Jesus defending himself. The ironic thing is that his defense infuriates the leaders all the more. Jesus starts by saying, “My father.” Jews had long accepted that God was the Father of all things. But Jesus here shows an intimacy with God that had not been previously known. In fact, by saying that God is his father, he is implying that he is the Son of God, not just a son of God like a regular person. That would make Jesus God himself. “Blasphemy!” cry the leaders. They can’t see that Jesus’ miraculous powers come from God. They don’t understand that Jesus can heal only because he gets his power from the father. They can’t get that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and therefore has the right to do whatever he pleases on it. Instead they have blinders on. They can only see what they have chosen to put right in front of their faces. They were so mad it says they not only wanted to kill him… they tried to kill him!

Jesus says that because God is always working, he, too, must always work. Can you imagine if God took a day off? Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue? With all of the craziness going on in the world, it would be a bazillion times worse if God took a vaca. Even the Jews acknowledged that God was always at work. So if God is always at work and Jesus is God then Jesus is always at work, too. It is a natural progression of thought, if you accept Jesus as God. If you don’t accept that premise then the conclusion is invalid. The Pharisees did not see Jesus as God so in their mind Jesus’ argument was fallacy.

Jesus tries to help them understand that if he wasn’t God’s own Son, then he wouldn’t be able to do the things he does. Jesus says, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does,” (verse 19). Jesus can’t act on his own accord because he would have to act outside of God, and since he is God that is impossible. Jesus can’t separate himself from himself- it’s just impossible. He is God whether they accept it or not. So often in today’s culture we face this: “It may be true for you but it’s not true for me.” Some things are accepted universally as true such as “murder is wrong” though their may be certain instances when people disagree over what murder verses killing is. But other things enter more of a gray area. Because people can not see a physical entity of God, many reject him as real. That doesn’t mean that he’s not real, it just means that they don’t accept him as real. That doesn’t make God any less real though. To put this another way, someone could have discovered a purple people eater in Malaysia. I may not believe them but that doesn’t change the fact that the purple people eater exists. The purple people eater’s existence is not dependent on whether or not I believe in it. Neither is God’s realness dependent upon whether his people accept him as real. God’s realness depends upon himself; he exists because he exists.

Let’s move onto another reason the Pharisees were ticked… this whole idea that Jesus will be their judge. Boy did that cause problems! Let’s reread that section:

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

If people get nothing else out of this post, I hope they understand this: It doesn’t matter whether or not you accept Jesus as God, the Father as God, or the Holy Spirit as God… what matters is that Jesus will be your judge whether you want him to be or not. I have a friend who doesn’t accept God as God or at the very least accepts that there is a God but that God doesn’t apply to him. The sad fact of the matter is this- Jesus will be his judge and he will be judged according to whether or not he believes that Jesus is God. This man, as of right now, is judging himself straight to hell. You see, it doesn’t matter if he thinks truth is a lie. Truth is still truth. You don’t have to like how God does business, as in the case of the Pharisees, you still need to accept the truth because it is by the Truth you will be judged. Nothing you believe will change that fact.

Now Jews believed that God, the Father, alone would be the judge. So this idea that Jesus was to be the judge was heretical or wrong to them. They knew God was the judge and up to that point all they knew was God as Father. Therefore they assumed that the Father would be the judge. Here comes Jesus, who the most Pharisees don’t accept as God coming to say that he will be their judge. It was all too much for them to handle. I just imagine their heads getting bright red and starting to spin with steam coming out of their ears when Jesus says this, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him,” (verse 23). That statement right there is enough to judge the Pharisees on. They certainly did not honor the Son, so they were definitely not honoring the Father, in other words, by not honoring Jesus, they were not honoring God and that is sin.

There is good news though in all this: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Amen! Amen! Amen! This is the Good News of the Bible! “A time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” This is the joy that is set before us regardless of our struggles now- that we will hear the sweet voice of Jesus and live with him forever and ever! What ecstacy! What euphoria! This is what it is all about! Does this mean we won’t be judged? No. We will be judged and sentenced to die but Jesus has already fulfilled our death penalty. In this way we will be found righteous despite our sin, “God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification,” (Romans 4:24-25). In other words, in the final courtroom of God when we sit in the defendants chair and see all of the evidence presented before us… When we sit in utter disgust because there is no denying the charges or the evidence presented against us… When we are called to stand to hear the verdict… When the judge reads, “GUILTY, ON ALL COUNTS!” When we hang our head knowing that the death penalty is mandatory for anyone found guilty… THEN! then Jesus, the mighty and righteous judge… then he will slowly stand… then he will show his nail pierced hands and feet… then he will come out of the judge’s seat and come over and lift our heads and say, “This one’s debt to God is paid. This one is mine.” The prosecution will squeal with torment as the demons protest, “That’s not fair! That’s a sinner! That one is ours!” Then Jesus will turn and say, “You’re right. It’s not fair. This person is a sinner but grace is not fair.” Grace is an undeserved stay of execution. It is something we can’t earn or buy. It’s not something we can steal or gain illegitimately. It’s something that has to be freely given to us despite our unworthiness of the gift. This is what Christ has done for us. This is why he died on the cross.

The End.

15. Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-law

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Today, let’s look at the time Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Once again, I am combining three separate books to get a more comprehensive reading:

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. (Mark 1:29-31)

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. (Luke 4:40-41)

 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)

Remember from our last study, Jesus was in the synagogue teaching when a demon possessed man interrupted his teaching. You can read about it here. Now the service is over and Jesus and his disciples head to the home of Peter’s mother-in-law for a traditional Sabbath meal. You can insert your jokes about going from a demon possessed man to your mother-in-law here if you’d like, lol. But for Peter this was no laughing matter because his mother-in-law was sick. Really sick. It says she, “was in bed with a fever.” It is important to note several things here. First, Luke (who was a physician and would know about such things) says in his version of events that she had a “high fever.” Second, the verb “was” in bed indicates that this was an ongoing thing, that she had been sick for some time. Keep in mind a high fever is dangerous, especially without the use of modern medicine to control it. As soon as Peter learns that his mother-in-law is sick, he told Jesus about her. I love how Mark captures the healing. he simply says, “So [Jesus] went to her, took her hand and helped her up.” We see that Jesus’ touch is enough to heal. It doesn’t say he prayed, it doesn’t say he needed to anoint with oil, He simply touched her. I’m not saying these things are bad, I’m just observing how Jesus did it. I find something else interesting about how he healed her. He didn’t say, “Your sins are forgiven,” meaning that sometimes sin makes people ill. When this happens the sin must be forgiven before healing can happen. This is the case in the story of the paralyzed man found in Luke 5:17-26. But we see in the case of Peter’s mother-in-law that sometimes people get sick for reasons other than sin and demon-possession. I believe that all pain and suffering, that is not the result of demon-posession and sin itself, is caused by the effect of sin in the world. Once sin entered the world there was a huge rift in the normal order of things and both the physical world and the spiritual world suffered from it. That’s a whole separate Bible study though. Anyway, back to Peter’s mother-in-law… after Jesus heals her she isn’t just better, she is fully restored to her former strength. We see this in that she gets up and begins to get dinner ready.

We are going to continue by looking at the passage that immediately follows the one we just discussed. Jesus and his disciples have eaten their Sabbath meal and the sun has set. This is an important detail that Mark mentions. Sabbath ran from sundown Friday night to sun down Saturday night. When Luke says, “At sunset” he is telling us that the Sabbath is over and the people begin coming to Jesus. Why is this important? Because healing on the Sabbath was breaking Pharisaical laws. No one, no matter how sick, wanted to break the laws. All that ceremonial washing and stuff you had to go through to be considered righteous was a pain in the butt. Most of the healed were already going to have to undergo purification by the priests as it was.

Let’s see how Jesus heals the people. Once again we see Jesus laying his hands on the sick and once again it is important to notice what he doesn’t do. It’s also worth noting that not everyone who is sick is sick because of demons. It says, “demons came out of many people,” not all people, yet all were healed. And once again it doesn’t say anything about Jesus forgiving sins. So we learned earlier that not all illness is a direct effect of a person’s sin and we learn here that not all illness is a result of demon-possession. We also see that once again the demons tried to speak and we can assume they tried to call his name because it says Jesus “would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” Just like the last study we did, Jesus Drives Out a Demon, the demons are not trying to tell people who Jesus is to evangelize. They are instead trying to stir the people into a frenzy so that they would make Jesus their physical king by force. The demons know that is not part of the plan.

Let’s jump to Matthew’s Gospel. Often Matthew will show how Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy because the audience he was writing to was primarily Jewish. They were looking for someone to fulfill prophesy and Matthew wants to show that Jesus is that person. This prophesy is from Isaiah 53:4 and it says that Messiah would be able to heal people. I feel it is important for us Gentiles to know about these prophesies as well as understand how Jesus is the fulfillment of them. It’s not fortune telling. It’s not hocus pocus magic. It is God given prophesy about our Savior. I think it’s important to know it because it is cold hard fact. It’s not something we have to take on faith. Someone uttered these prophesies hundreds of years before Christ and he is the answer to every single on of them and we can see it with our own eyes.

Father, thank you for your power over Satan. We pray that you would not lead us into temptation but would deliver us from the evil one.  Give us the strength to act or run or whatever it is that you might tell us to do when faced with Satan.Help us to recognize the difference between illness and demon-posession. I pray that you protect us. I also pray for those of us with illness, Lord. We ask that you would heal us but even if you choose not to, we ask that you be glorified in the situation. Amen.

The End.

14. Jesus Drives Out a Demon

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Now that the title has your attention, let’s get started. Up to this point we have only mentioned Satan in one study, The Temptation of Christ and The Temptation of Christ, Part 2. Now we see Jesus’ encounter with a demon. Let’s read:

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “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!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

It’s a short passage that holds a lot of good stuff for us to learn so let’s get started. Notice Jesus is still in Capernaum. “They” most likely refers to Jesus and his disciples. Notice that Jesus is once again in the synagogue teaching. It is the Sabbath so it’s Saturday. The fact that it is the Sabbath will become important later in other stories about Jesus as the Pharisees couldn’t stand that Jesus was doing miracles on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day set aside for resting and meditation on God. No work was to be done and the Pharisees were so concerned about keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest they made laws such as you couldn’t even touch a tool that could be used for work or you would be breaking the Sabbath laws. This is referred to as putting “a fence around the Torah.” That Jesus was performing miracles on the Sabbath sent the Pharisees into a tizzy. Forget that Jesus was doing God’s work! But it shows that with Jesus there is a new order that is established. The old way of doing things, like making and keeping ridiculous laws, is over but this would’ve put the Pharisees out of a job. They were in charge of enforcing religious laws after all. This is one reason they despised Jesus.

Anyway, Jesus was in the synagogue teaching and, once again, all the people are amazed at his authority. Up to this point when people taught they always quoted other Rabbis. The most notable schools of thought were the liberal teachings of Rabbi Hillel and the conservative school of Rabbi Shammai. Jesus didn’t need to quote what other great teachers thought about the Scripture; he taught on his own authority and spoke it in such a way that there was power in his words. Jesus had a deeper understanding of the Scriptures than any other teacher because he was the one Scriptures were written about. The entirety of Scripture points to our need of a Savior and the Savior itself. Jesus is that Savior! This is why he is able to preach in a way that “amazed” the people.  Both times it is used in this passage, the word amazed here literally means, “struck to attention.” Note, it doesn’t say how the people were amazed- where they amazed in a good way, in a bad way, afraid way… Just something to keep in the back of your mind as we read this passage.

It says,

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “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!” (verses 23-24)

Let’s not split hairs over the words “impure spirit” the same story in Luke 4:33 flat out calls this entity a demon. In the New Testament we see demons as being able to cause mental disorders (John 10:20), involuntary violent action (Luke 8:26-29), bodily disease or impairment (Matthew 9:32-33), and rebellion against God (Revelation 16:14). Demons are not just some cute little guy on your shoulder trying to get you to do bad things. They are real. They have power. And they can have a stronghold over your spiritual and physical life.

The texts says the man cried out, but it was actually the demon using the voice of the man to speak. So here’s something else we can learn about demons, once they take possession of the body, they can use it for their purposes. Scary stuff, huh. The next line of the text says, “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!” (verse 24). I have several observations here, I would say when the demon uses the word “us” it is referring to itself and to the man who is possessed. There is another story of demon possession in which there are many demons in the body but the text makes a point to tell you that is the case (Luke 8:26-39). Here it clearly says “demon” and not “demons”.  The second observation I would like to make is that the demon recognizes Jesus and it recognizes him as the promised Messiah at that. We know this because it says, “Have you come to destroy us?” The demon recognizes Jesus as the promised judge and destroyer of Satan- the only one who is able to defeat him. The other reason we know that the demon recognizes the Messiah is because it calls Jesus, “the Holy One of God!” This is a Messianic title used in the Old Testament. In short the demon knows exactly who it’s talking to. It just goes to show that even evil can recognize God when it sees him. It makes for a sad commentary for those who don’t believe that Jesus is God if even Satan knows it.

Jesus is “stern” in his reply to the demon. He doesn’t ask nicely if the demon would kindly leave the man. He is firm and speaks with power. There is nothing nice about dealing with the Devil. What I find interesting is that he doesn’t pray or lay hands on the man. His word is enough.Then if you notice, the demon “shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” The demon doesn’t leave quietly we can assume that from the violent shaking and shrieking that the demon didn’t want to leave the man but it was obligated to obey Jesus. After the demon comes out of the man, everyone is amazed again and they are amazed at his authority- his authority of teaching and over evil.

I want to point out one important observation before I go- Where did this demon manifest itself? The synagogue. The synagogue equates to our church of today. It shows that no where is safe from the wiles of Satan. Yes, Satan can even enter our church doors, and in possession of a person no less. It is foolish to think otherwise. Where God’s work is being done you can bet your bottom dollar Satan will be there trying to thwart the plan. I’m not trying to scare you, I am just apprising you of the situation. The more informed you are of the enemy and how he works, the more you can be diligent in stopping him or at least avoiding him.

Father, You alone are all powerful and you alone are worthy to be praised! Thank you for your power over Satan and for your ability to cast him out. Your word alone is enough to send Satan trembling. We praise you and worship you, Almighty God, forever and ever, Amen!

The End.