Monday, March 27, 2017

Luke 4:31–44

Luke 4:31–44 (ESV): Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Demon, Jesus Heals Many, Jesus Preaches in Synagogues


In the previous passage Jesus was rejected by the folks in his home town, so in this passage he moves on to a different town, Capernaum, where he once again starts teaching on the Sabbath. Once again, just as they were in his hometown, the people he’s teaching are amazed at him, “for his word possessed authority” (verse 32 (ESV)). However, one of them is a man who’s possessed by a demon, and he calls out to Jesus:
“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.” (verse 34 (ESV))
(The footnote in the ESV indicates that that first “Ha!” could also be translated as, “Leave us alone.”)

Jesus rebukes the demon, telling it to shut up and come out of the man, which it promptly does—doing no harm to the man in the process. (The text actually says “be quiet,” not “shut up.” I was feeling a bit cheeky when I wrote this, for some reason.) This amazes the people all the more, because his authority and power extend even to unclean spirits.

After this, Jesus goes to the house of someone named Simon, and finds that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever, so Jesus “rebukes” the fever, which leaves her—to the point that she immediately gets up and starts to serve them. (No rest for the weary…) That evening, sick people from all around come to Jesus to be healed, as well as a number of demon-possessed people. The demons try to name Jesus as the Son of God, but he rebukes them, not allowing them to speak.

The next day he leaves town. The crowd wants to keep him there, but he won’t let them stop him, saying, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (verse 43 (ESV)).


Verse 36 (ESV) has the crowd’s reaction in Capernaum, when Jesus commands the demon to come out of the possessed man:
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!”
Although they’re holding Jesus in awe, it’s quite possible that it’s not completely positive awe. In other passages, the religious leaders accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan, and say that that’s why he is able to command demons. Jesus rebukes them for an argument which is essentially logically inconsistent, but that doesn’t mean these people might not be thinking similar things. The text doesn’t indicate it, it’s just something I’m wondering.

I am tickled by the fact that the word “rebukes” is used when Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law. We don’t think of healing someone as “rebuking” their illness—like the fever is doing something wrong by being in the woman, and Jesus is scolding it. (The ESV Study Bible notes indicate that this is the only place in Scriptures where “Jesus’ words are addressed to a disease.” I’m wondering if they’re taking it a bit too literally—then again, they would definitely understand the Greek better than I would (which is not at all).)

That aside, I’m almost positive I’ve read that the people coming to Jesus to be healed would have been purposely waiting until after the sun went down, so that they wouldn’t be getting healed on the Sabbath. Whatever your feelings about getting healed on the Sabbath—the Pharisees didn’t like it, but Jesus had words for them on that point—I’m sure many would have been uncomfortable being healed (or having their friends be healed) on the Sabbath, and even if they were fine with it, they might have been worried about “getting in trouble” from the religious leaders.

The reason that Jesus won’t let the demons speak about him is that his time hasn’t yet arrived. He’s not ready to go to the cross just yet—when he is, he will, but for now he’s not.

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