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  THE CLEAR NOTE OF AUTHORITY LUKE 4:31-44: “And they were all amazed and said to one another, What kind of talk is this? For with authority and power He commands the foul spirits and they come out!” (v36)

Today we ask ourselves: why did most religious men of Christ’s day became so poisoned by bigotry and prejudice that they became involved in the darkest crime ever committed by the human race? One reason was that they were deeply upset by His note of authority. We who are Christians can look back into the Old Testament and have a clear understanding about Christ’s authority. He came from God the Father and spoke for God the Father. He did not suggest or recommend –He announced. The common people noticed immediately that ‘He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as [did] the scribes’ as seen in Matthew 7:29. He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Inevitably, that note of authority angered the Pharisees just as it used to anger us today. As educated men and leaders of the people, they were accustomed to receive accolade from the uneducated masses (among whom they placed Lord Jesus) a certain deference or polite submission and respect. Now they appeared to be witnessing that respect being undermined. The people were following Lord Jesus from one place to another according Him the respect they feel is their prerogative, and the people were impressed with Lord Jesus clear exposition of the Scriptures and its truth. No doubt the Pharisees said amongst themselves, ‘Who is He, anyhow? Isn’t He just a carpenter from Nazareth? He speaks with Galilean accent and has never been properly educated. He has never been to one of our synagogue schools and has never sat at the feet of one of our rabbis.’ While they were discussing these things amongst themselves, the voice of Lord Jesus was heard all across the land: ‘I am the bread of life’, ‘No-one comes to the Father except through me’, ‘I and the Father are one’. The tremendous note of authority in the message of Lord Jesus was something bigotry could not stand. Remember that last week we talked about bigotry and prejudice. Bigotry is an obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction; in particular, prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group. Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts and feelings of that person. Do you see how bigotry and prejudice played out in the generation of the Lord Jesus against Lord Jesus which is still playing out even till today in our midst, you see people taking sides without knowing what the real issue is all about?

  Jesus—Lord Over All (Luke 4:31-44):

The chapter of Luke 4 contains the following contents: 1. The temptation of Christ as seen in verses 1-13 2. Christ in the synagogue of Nazareth as seen in verses 14-30 3. He casts out an unclean spirit and heals the sick as seen in 31-44. Luke 4:1-13; Christ's being led into the wilderness gave an advantage to the tempter; for there He was alone, none were with Him by whose prayers and advice He might be helped in the hour of temptation. Can you see the danger of being in certain places; such places exposes you to tremendous danger of being tempted by the tempter, in other words being in certain places gives the tempter an advantage over you, so always know this and guide against it in your life. Lord Jesus who knew His own strength might give Satan advantage; but we may not, who know our own weakness. Being in all things made like unto His brethren, Lord Jesus would, like the other children of God, live in dependence upon the Divine Providence and promise. The word of God is our sword, and faith in that word is our shield. God has many ways of providing for His people, and therefore is at all times to be depended upon in the way of duty. All Satan's promises are deceitful; and if he is permitted to have any influence in disposing of the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he uses them as baits to ensnare men to destruction. Please take note of this fact! We should reject at once and with abhorrence, every opportunity of sinful gain or advancement, as a price offered for our souls; we should seek riches, honours, and happiness in the worship and service of God only. Christ will not worship Satan; nor, when He has the kingdoms of the world delivered to Him by His Father, will He suffer any remains of the worship of the devil to continue in them. Satan also tempted Lord Jesus to be his own murderer, by unfitting confidence in his Father's protection, such as he had no warrant for. Did you get that? You remember that I have always said that Satan has no power to destroy; but rather what he does is to deceitfully hand you over an instrument of destruction and then beguile or influence you to kill or destroy yourself. Let not any abuse of Scripture by Satan or by men abate our esteem, or cause us to abandon its use or apply it wrongly; but let us study it still, seek to know it, and seek our defence from it in all kinds of assaults. Let this word dwell richly in us, for it is our life. Our victorious Redeemer conquered, not for Himself only, but for us also. The devil ended all the temptation. Christ let him try out all his force, and defeated him. Satan saw it was to no purpose to attack Christ, who had nothing in Him for His fiery darts to fasten upon; hence you hear the Lord Jesus say, that the prince of darkness came onto Me but he found nothing in Me. Our sin serves as a landing pad upon which Satan takes advantage to undo us. And if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. Yet he departed but till the season when he was again to be let loose upon Lord Jesus, not as a tempter, to draw Him to sin, and so to strike at His head, at which he now aimed and was wholly defeated in; but as a persecutor, to bring Christ to suffer, and so to bruise His heel, which it was told him, he should have to do, and would do, though it would be the breaking of his own head as seen in Genesis 3:15 “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her [a]Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel”. Though Satan departs for a season, we shall never be out of his reach till we are removed from this present evil world. This is a truth we should not lose sight of otherwise we will miss the mark! Luke 4:14-30; Christ taught in their synagogues, their places of public worship, where they met to read, expound, and apply the word, to pray and praise. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were upon Him and on Him, without measure. By Christ, sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by His Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. He came by the word of His gospel, to bring light to those that sat in the dark, and by the power of His grace, to give sight and deliverance to those that were blind. And He preached the acceptable year of the Lord. Let sinners attend to the Saviour's invitation when liberty is thus proclaimed. Christ's name was Wonderful; in nothing was He more so than in the word of His grace, and the power that went along with it. We may well wonder that He should speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as mankind. Some prejudice often furnishes an objection against the humbling doctrine of the cross; and while it is the word of God that stirs up men's enmity, they will blame the conduct or manner of the speaker. The doctrine of God's sovereignty, His right to do His will, provokes proud men. They will not seek His favour in His own way; and are angry when others have the favours they neglect. Still is Lord Jesus rejected by multitudes who hear the same message from His Words. While they crucify Him afresh by their sins, may we honour Him as the Son of God, the Saviour of men, and seek to show we do so by our obedience and practice of His word in our daily activities. Luke 4:31-44; Christ's preaching much affected the people; and a working power went with it to the consciences of men and this is exactly what many people do not want. These miracles showed Christ to be a controller and conqueror of Satan, a healer of diseases. Where Christ gives a new life, in recovery from sickness, it should be a new life, spent more than ever in His service, to His glory. Our business should be to spread abroad Christ's fame in every place, to beseech Him on behalf of those diseased in body or mind, and to use our influence in bringing sinners to Him, that His hands may be laid upon them for their healing. He cast the devils out of many who were possessed. We were not sent into this world to live to ourselves only, but to glorify God, and to do good in our generation. The people sought Him, and came unto Him. A desert is no desert, if we are with Christ there. He will continue with us, by His word and Spirit, and extend the same blessings to other nations, till, throughout the earth, the servants and worshippers of Satan are brought to acknowledge Him as the Christ, the Son of God, and to find redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Now let us read Luke 4:31-44 31 And He descended to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and there He continued to teach the people on the Sabbath days. 32 And they were amazed at His teaching, for His word was with authority and ability and weight and power. 33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the foul spirit of a demon; and he cried out with a loud (deep, terrible) cry, 34 Ah, [o]let us alone! What have You to do with us [What have [p]we in common], 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 (muzzled, gagged), and come out of him! And when the demon had thrown the man down in their midst, he came out of him without injuring him in any [q]possible way. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, What kind of talk is this? For with authority and power He commands the foul spirits and they come out! 37 And a rumor about Him spread into every place in the surrounding country. 38 Then He arose and left the synagogue and went into Simon’s (Peter’s) house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering in the grip of a burning fever, and they pleaded with Him for her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she got up and began waiting on them. 40 Now at the setting of the sun [indicating the end of the Sabbath], all those who had any [who were] sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands upon every one of them and cured them. 41 And demons even came out of many people, screaming and crying out, You are the Son of God! But He rebuked them and would not permit them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ (the Messiah). 42 And when daybreak came, He left [Peter’s house] and went into an isolated [desert] place. And the people looked for Him until they came up to Him and tried to prevent Him from leaving them. 43 But He said to them, I must preach the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom of God to the other cities [and towns] also, for I was sent for this [purpose]. 44 And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.

  Introduction:

While I appreciate the American form of government, the down side of it is that it fosters a lousy concept of what it means to submit to authority. Democracy and the Bill of Rights mean that we can challenge anyone, from the President on down. Nobody can tell us what to do! We have our rights! We won't submit unless we’re forced to submit! About the closest thing we have to learning submission is the military, at least as it used to be. I’ve heard that now the military practices sensitivity toward recruits. But I'll never forget the most inappropriately named man I've ever met, Mr. Angel. He was the guy in charge of the recruits for the first week of Coast Guard boot camp. He was built like Clint Eastwood, tall, lean and mean. His reputation went before him, so that everyone feared him before he set foot in the barracks. The first time Mr. Angel flung the door open and stomped in, cursing at the top of his voice, no one in our company said, “You don’t have a right to talk to us like that! Said the narrator” When Mr. Angel said, “Hit the floor, you no good bunch of (expletives deleted),” we all hit the floor instantly. Then he said, “You stupid bunch of lame-brained idiots! Don’t you know how to respond to a command? When I give a command, you had better say, ‘Sir, aye, aye, Sir!’ and then obey.” If your response was a bit delayed or not quite as enthusiastic as Mr. Angel had envisioned, you found yourself suddenly hanging by your lapels at eye level with this furious mad man who was snarling unkind profanities and informing you of his plans for doing you great bodily harm. The Coast Guard’s reason for throwing you into the arena with a guy like Mr. Angel was to teach you that when someone in authority spoke, you had better listen and obey immediately. Can you now get a little glimpse of what authority mean? From the outset of his gospel, Luke wants to establish the point that Jesus Christ is in authority. He is Lord over all, and thus the proper response to Him is to submit to Him and do what He says. After showing us how Lord Jesus was rejected in His hometown of Nazareth, Luke doesn’t want anyone to get the mistaken idea that Jesus is not Lord. So he walks us through a Sabbath day with Lord Jesus, showing us how He preached the Word, cast out demons, and healed the sick with authority. He wants us to see that …not withstanding that His people rejected Him; Jesus is Lord over all, we should submit to Him and serve to further His purpose. Have you ever wondered what a typical day was like for Lord Jesus? Our text shows us a typical Sabbath day for our Lord. He went to the synagogue, where He taught the Word. While there He healed a demon-possessed man, the first miracle recorded in Luke. Then He went over to Simon Peter’s home for dinner. Simon’s mother-in-law (Peter was married) was ill with a high fever (only Luke, the physician, notes that it was a high fever), and Lord Jesus healed her. Instantly, she arose with enough strength to serve the Lord and the other guests. Then, after sundown, when the Sabbath was over, the whole town lined up at Peter’s door with their sick loved ones, and Lord Jesus healed them. Early the next morning, Lord Jesus slipped away to a quiet place (Mark, not Luke, tells us it was for prayer, even though Luke often emphasizes Lord Jesus’ prayer life). The crowds found Him and entreated Him to return, but Lord Jesus refused, explaining that He had a mission to preach to the other cities also. These incidents show us clearly who Lord Jesus is, but also we see ourselves and how we should respond to Him. 1. Jesus is Lord over all: The clear theme here is Jesus’ authority, seen in three areas: A. JESUS TAUGHT THE WORD WITH AUTHORITY: Note 4:31, 32:“31 And He descended to Capernaum, a town of Galilee, and there He continued to teach the people on the Sabbath days. 32 And they were amazed at His teaching, for His word was with authority and ability and weight and power. Lord Jesus was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were amazed at His teaching; for His message was with authority. The synagogue crowd was probably used to rabbis who would cite other rabbis and speculate on what they thought the Scripture meant. But Lord Jesus spoke plainly and clearly, saying, “This is what God means by this Scripture and this is how you should obey it.” He spoke as one sent from God who knew what God declares. He wasn’t offering helpful hints for happy living. He proclaimed the sovereign authority of God and called people to obey His authoritative Word. Note also the emphasis on Lord Jesus’ preaching in 4:43, 44 “43 But He said to them, I must preach the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom of God to the other cities [and towns] also, for I was sent for this [purpose]. 44 And He continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.” When the people came out to persuade Him to return to Capernaum, Lord Jesus refused, explaining that He had to preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for He was sent for this purpose. And that is precisely what He did: “He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea” (meaning here, all of Palestine). Let’s apply this: First, since Lord Jesus emphasized the preaching of the Word, so must we. In every age there has been an attempt to diminish the importance of preaching God’s Word. This is no accident, since Satan knows that the Word of God is powerful unto the conversion of sinners and the edification of the saints. One of the main factors in the Reformation was the recovery of the preaching of the Word in churches that had become accustomed to a priest droning in Latin through a bunch of rituals. John Calvin put an emphasis on explaining and applying God’s Word from the pulpit in a systematic way. He taught through the Bible, verse by verse. In his excellent book, Calvin’s Preaching [Westminster/John Knox Press], T. H. L. Parker notes that Calvin’s “high view of preaching did not meet with universal approval either outside Geneva or within” (p. 9). There were many who complained that they did not like Calvin’s emphasis on the authority of the Word and the need to reform our lives in obedience to God. In a sermon on 2 Timothy 3:16 which reads, “16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action)”, teaches on the way God’s inspired Word gives reproof and correction, so as to train us in righteousness, Calvin addresses those who complained that they didn’t want his hard sermons on holiness: “What! Is this the way to teach? Ho! We want to be won by sweetness.” “You do? Then go and teach God His lessons!” “Ho! We want to be taught in another style.” “Well, then, go to the devil’s school! He will flatter you enough—and destroy you” cited by Parker, p. 14. Do you understand all of these? From ages to ages men have wrestled with the word of God simply because they do not want to hear it because it addresses their errors. As in Calvin’s day, so in ours, there are those who say that preaching is not needed, that it is not in tune with our times, that people can’t bear to hear messages filled with doctrines that make them think and that exhort them to obey. So many churches have turned to what J. Vernon McGee used to call, “sermonettes for Christianettes.” But just as the preaching of the Word brought Reformation in Calvin’s day, so it will in our day, if we are receptive to God’s authoritative Word of Truth. Second, since Lord Jesus emphasized the authority of God’s Word and the need for obedience, so must we. Lord Jesus, of course, spoke with an authority which no other preacher can imitate, because Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But, at the same time, Lord Jesus upheld the authority of Scripture and the need for us to submit to it. Luke reports that Lord Jesus was sent to preach the good news of kingdom of God as seen in 4:43 “43 But He said to them, I must preach the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom of God to the other cities [and towns] also, for I was sent for this [purpose].” Much could be said about the kingdom, but at bare minimum, it is the place where Lord Jesus is Lord and people are subject to Him. Did you get that definition of the kingdom of God; a place, any place where Lord Jesus is Lord and the people are subject to Him! Leon Morris sums it up as “God’s rule in action”. The kingdom of God is both present and yet future. It is present to the extent that people live in submission to God’s authoritative Word. It is future in that the day is coming when Lord Jesus will return and rule with a rod of iron on the throne of David. In His earthly ministry, Lord Jesus always upheld the authority of Scripture and the need for us to obey it as seen in Matt. 5:17, 18 “17 Do not think that I have come to do away with or [a]undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.” Thus when we come to the Word, we must study it for understanding, because we cannot obey what we do not know. But our knowledge should always be with a view to obedience. As Calvin put it in the same sermon, “The Word of God is not to teach us to prattle, not to make us eloquent and subtle and I know not what. It is to reform our life, so that we desire to serve God, to give ourselves entirely to Him and to conform ourselves to His good will” as seen in Parker, p. 15. Third, since Lord Jesus unswervingly devoted Himself to His mission to preach the kingdom of God, so must those whom He has called to preach. There were many good things that could have distracted Lord Jesus from His purpose, such as going back to Capernaum and having a more extensive healing ministry. But He refused the pleas of the people and did not get sidetracked from the purpose for which God sent Him. Again, there are many great causes and activities that pastors can get involved with. I see many pastors who spend the bulk of their time organizing programs and serving on committees and many other things, most of which are worthwhile activities. But if God has called a man to preach, then he had better devote himself to the ministry of the Word, and not get bogged down with all these other obligations as seen in Acts 6:4 “4 But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Thus, Lord Jesus’ lordship is seen in that He taught the Word with authority. Also, B. JESUS CAST OUT DEMONS WITH AUTHORITY: Luke shows us, first with the man in the synagogue and then with many who came to Peter’s door, that Lord Jesus had authority over evil spirits. Did you know that outside of the Gospels, there are only four references to demon-possession in the whole Bible: two in the Old Testament as seen in Saul, 1 Sam. 16:14 “14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented and troubled him”; the deceiving spirits in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets, 1 Kings 22:22 “22 The Lord said to him, By what means? And he said, I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets. [The Lord] said, You shall entice him and succeed also. Go forth and do it” and two in the Book of Acts the Philippian servant girl, 16:16 “16 As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling”; the sons of Sceva, 19:13 “13 Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists (men who adjure evil spirits) also undertook to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, I solemnly implore and charge you by the Jesus Whom Paul preaches!”. It seems that when Lord Jesus began to minister, the powers of hell knew that they were in a battle to the death, and so Satan unleashed his forces to oppose Lord Jesus. So will he do to anybody who follows the step of the Lord Jesus! Luke reports that this man in the synagogue had a spirit of an unclean demon. This probably refers to moral impurity. The demon impelled the man, above and beyond his own lusts, to immoral behaviour. Who knows how long this man had sat in that synagogue week after week, listening to the droning of the rabbis, not disturbed by what he heard. Perhaps he had been able to hide his problem from public view up to this time. But when Lord Jesus preached, the demon recognized Lord Jesus’ power and purity, and he cried out through the man’s voice, “Ha! What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” now can you see that this is exactly what is happening in many churches, when these possessed people attend this powerless gathering, the evil spirit in them does not feel any challenge but you notice that it is different when you attend worship where Christ is active like in HOJ; the evil spirit possessing the person must become afraid because it will be identified and silenced! Lord Jesus silenced the demon and without any hocus pocus or incantations, He simply commanded it to come out of the man and it obeyed. The reason Lord Jesus silenced this demon and the others who were proclaiming Him to be the Son of God as seen in 4:41 “41 And demons even came out of many people, screaming and crying out, You are the Son of God! But He rebuked them and would not permit them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ (the Messiah)” is that He did not need or desire the testimony of these evil witnesses, even though what they said was true. The demons believe in God, but they shudder as seen in James 2:19 “19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]!” because they are under His judgment. Demonic forces are very much at work in our world today, although sometimes they are given more credit than they deserve. The world and the flesh are usually quite capable of dragging us into sin without demonic influence. Believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and thus cannot be possessed by demons, but believers can come under demonic attack as seen in Eph. 6:10-20 and opposition as seen in 2 Cor. 2:11 “11 To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions”; 1 Thess. 2:18 “18 Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us.” Evil spirits are sometimes behind false doctrine, and thus we must be discerning as seen in 1 Tim. 4:1 “4 But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,”; 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world”. If you or a family member have any involvement with the occult, such as astrology, ouija boards, fortune telling, seances, etc., either deliberately or innocently, you must repent of these evil practices and get rid of any paraphernalia related to them. While believers should not go around looking for confrontations with demons, if you come in contact with a demonic person, you can claim the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ over that demon and command it to leave. But, remember, even Michael the archangel did not dare pronounce a railing judgment against Satan, but rather said, “The Lord rebuke you” as seen in Jude 9. Demons are frighteningly powerful forces for evil, but greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world as seen in 1 John 4:4. The power to overcome demons is not in us, but in the Lord Jesus Christ. So do not fight demons with your own ability rather use the word of God on them and hand them over to the Lord to deal with them accordingly. C. JESUS HEALED THE SICK WITH AUTHORITY: Lord Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and then He healed many from the town who lined up at Peter’s door that evening. While Mark 1:31 says that Lord Jesus took Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand, Luke reports that He rebuked the fever. I think the reason Luke mentions this is to emphasize Lord Jesus’ authority. Just as later Lord Jesus would rebuke the raging wind and sea as seen in Luke 8:24, showing His authority over the forces of nature, so here He rebukes the fever to show that He is the Lord over disease. Note, also, that Luke distinguishes between demon possession and disease as seen in Luke 4:40, 41 “40 Now at the setting of the sun [indicating the end of the Sabbath], all those who had any [who were] sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands upon every one of them and cured them. 41 And demons even came out of many people, screaming and crying out, You are the Son of God! But He rebuked them and would not permit them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ (the Messiah).” While some illness can be due to demonic power, clearly not all illness is due to demonic power. To go around rebuking the demon of cancer or whatever disease is not in line with Scripture. There is much confusion today because some teach that Lord Jesus’ promise to the disciples, that they would do greater works than He did as seen in John 14:12, means that we should routinely be seeing miracles of healing and even resurrections from the dead. If that’s what Lord Jesus meant, then Paul was in sin when he told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach ailments as seen in 1 Tim. 5:23 “23 Drink water no longer exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” He should have told him to claim his healing by faith. Paul must have lacked faith when he told Timothy that he left Trophimus sick at Miletus as seen in 2 Tim. 4:20. Why didn’t he heal him? When the author to the Hebrews wrote to this second-generation church, they had to be reminded of the signs and wonders that the apostles had performed as seen in Heb. 2:4 “4 [Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will”. It is obvious that those miracles already had diminished in frequency. To claim that we should be experiencing the same frequency of miracles that Lord Jesus did is to misunderstand the purpose of miracles in the Bible. Contrary to what many think, miracles are not uniformly distributed throughout the Bible. They occur mostly in clusters around the time of Moses, again with Elijah and Elisha, a few in Daniel’s time, and at the time of Christ and the apostles. These were all crucial periods of God’s dealings with His people. There were several reasons for Lord Jesus’ miracles. First, they authenticate His person and teaching, proving Him to be the Messiah sent by the Father as seen in Luke 7:20-22 “20 So the men came to Jesus and said, John the Baptist sent us to You to ask, Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we [continue to] look for another? 21 In that very hour Jesus was healing many [people] of sicknesses and distressing bodily plagues and evil spirits, and to many who were blind He gave [[g]a free, gracious, joy-giving gift of] sight. 22 So He replied to them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news (the Gospel) preached to them.” Second, the miracles show us who Lord Jesus is. He feeds the 5,000 and claims to be the bread of life. He claims to be the light of the world and opens the eyes of a man born blind. Third, the miracles give symbolic lessons of spiritual truth. The sick and the dead represent the human race, broken under sin. Without Christ, they are helpless. But when He speaks the word, they are instantly cured. Thus the miracles show us God’s great gift of salvation. Finally, the miracles show us either implicitly or explicitly how we should respond to Lord Jesus Christ. We must come to Him in our utter helplessness and cast ourselves totally on His mercy and power. The miracles also warn us how not to come to Lord Jesus, since many sought after Him not so that they could follow Him as Lord, but just to use Him for their own selfish purposes. An evil and adulterous generation seeks after miracles. Let me give some brief guidelines about seeking God’s miraculous healing today. First, check your motive. God’s glory, not your comfort, should be foremost as seen in Phil. 1:20 “20 This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death”. Second, submit to the Lord, who knows better than you do what is best in any situation. Paul thought it would be best to get rid of the thorn in his flesh. God knew otherwise as seen in 2 Cor. 12:7-10 “7 And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength).” Third, don’t limit God by unbelief as seen in Mark 6:5, 6 “5 And He was not able to do [d]even one work of power there, except that He laid His hands on a few sickly people [and] cured them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in Him). And He went about among the surrounding villages and continued teaching. God is able to do the impossible, if it’s His will. So, pray for miraculous healing, believing that God is able, but recognize that it may not be His will. Fourth, look for the spiritual lessons God is trying to teach you in the trial. There may be a sin you need to confess as seen in James 5:13-16 “13 Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise [to God]. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord's name. 15 And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” You may need to learn to trust God in a greater way as seen in 2 Cor. 1:8, 9 “8 For we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the affliction and oppressing distress which befell us in [the province of] Asia, how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life [itself]. 9 Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the [very] sentence of death, but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God Who raises the dead.” You may need to learn to focus more on the things above and the hope of heaven as seen in Col. 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.” You may need to rearrange your priorities as seen in Matt. 6:33 “33 But seek ([a]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([b]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [c]taken together will be given you besides.” God uses affliction to conform or to force us to the image of His Son, and so instant, miraculous healing or relief is often not His will because He wants you to learn from whatever you are suffering from so He is not in a haste to relief you of it until He is sure or satisfied that you have learnt. Thus Lord Jesus’ authoritative teaching, casting out demons, and healing the sick shows that He is Lord over all. It follows that …

  2. We should submit to Lord Jesus and serve to further His purpose: I can only touch on three lessons:

A. WE SHOULD WILLINGLY SUBMIT TO LORD JESUS BECAUSE OF OUR DESPERATELY NEEDY CONDITION; These incidents show the human race under Satan’s cruel dominion, broken and wounded under the effects of the fall. We should look at the demoniac in the synagogue, at Peter’s sick mother-in-law, and at the long line of sick people lined up at Peter’s door that evening and see ourselves spiritually, how helpless and hopeless we are; except Lord Jesus helps us. The human race is under the curse of the fall, captives in Satan’s domain of darkness, headed for spiritual judgment, the second death. I like to watch people when I’m in a public setting. It’s fun to imagine what they are like, to think about their lives. But it also can be sad, because every person you see is in the process of dying. With some it’s not so obvious yet—they’re young and healthy. But others walk with a limp, their bodies are maimed or scarred, their physical features are marred by the hard things they have endured. Like the bumper sticker says, “Life is tough—and then you die.” I don’t know how many families there were in Capernaum, but when they heard that Lord Jesus was at Peter’s house and that He could heal, they lined up en masse. I wonder if any home in Capernaum was not represented? That scene could be multiplied and replicated in every town and village in the world. It’s a graphic picture of the desperate, needy condition of the human race before our Lord God. In light of that great need, we all should cast ourselves on His mercy and submit to Jesus as Lord, because He is the only Saviour of mankind. B. WE SHOULD WILLINGLY SUBMIT TO LORD JESUS BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT COMPASSION AND CARE; Lord Jesus could have quieted the crowd and then prayed, “In the name of the Father, you all are healed.” Instantly, everyone in the crowd would have been healed. They could have gone home, and Lord Jesus would have had an easier night. But instead, He laid His hands on each one as seen in Luke 4:40 “40 Now at the setting of the sun [indicating the end of the Sabbath], all those who had any [who were] sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands upon every one of them and cured them”, showing His compassion and care for the individual. The Bible is clear that we must come to Lord Jesus on an individual basis and that when we do, He will deal with us personally and compassionately, like a shepherd with his sheep. Lord Jesus does not beat His wounded sheep. He tenderly binds up their wounds and pours healing oil on their sores. You are invited to cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you as seen in 1 Pet. 5:7 “7 Casting the [a]whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, [b]once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you [c]watchfully.” C. WE SHOULD WILLINGLY SERVE LORD JESUS TO FURTHER HIS PURPOSE: The people of Capernaum used Lord Jesus to get healed, but they did not submit to Him and serve Him. In fact, they wanted to hinder Him from His purpose by keeping Him to themselves. Later, Lord Jesus condemned the people of Capernaum, because in spite of the many miracles they had seen, they did not repent as seen in Matt. 11:20-24 “20 Then He began to censure and reproach the cities in which most of His mighty works had been performed, because they did not repent [and their hearts were not changed]. 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes [and their hearts would have been changed]. 22 I tell you [further], it shall be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, are you to be lifted up to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades [the region of the dead]! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued until today. 24 But I tell you, it shall be more endurable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” But Peter’s mother-in-law pictures the proper response for those who have experienced the Saviour’s healing touch: she arose and began to serve Him as seen in Luke 4:39 “39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she got up and began waiting on them.” The danger is that we will use Lord Jesus for whatever need we have and then, after He does what we want, we set Him aside and go on with our personal agendas.

  Conclusion:

If we see our true condition before God, we’re all like those people in Capernaum—wounded, sick, and needy. We need to do as they did and come to Lord Jesus. When you do that, He deals with you personally, touching your ugly sores and imparting His cleansing and healing to your soul. Then you have a choice: Like the people of Capernaum, you can walk away and never truly believe in and follow the Lord Jesus. Or, like Peter’s mother-in-law, you can rise up and immediately begin serving Him out of gratitude. That is the only reasonable and proper response if you’ve felt the Sovereign Lord’s healing touch in your heart.
Lord Jesus, I see more clearly than ever that You are not an evader, a bypasser of our problems. You faced everything I am called to face –so that I can overcome it too by following your example. Teach me Lord how to understand Your word and how to practice it sincerely; help me wherever my weaknesses seem to want to overwhelm me. I am so deeply thankful Lord for all Your help and assistance! In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!