Authority of Jesus: Luke 4.31-44

With a winter storm moving in and decisions being made about gathering everybody together tomorrow morning, we’re thinking about the authority of Jesus.

Have you ever worked with a real authority? If you’re a teacher, maybe you’ve been trained by or worked with somebody who knew how to manage students, content, time and the teaching environment. Students would finish the course and then go on to succeed in other venues. If you’re a home builder, you’ve hopefully worked with somebody who not only knew how to draw up the house, but then build it, and have others move in and make the structure a home.

In authority, there’s a connection between what is said and what is done and what is believed and who is followed.

Luke 4.31-44 describes Jesus’ move north to Capernaum. The passage contrasts with his ministry in Nazareth where he wasn’t received and did no miracles … Is not this Joseph’s son?

This passage is a ministry sampler documenting demonstrations of power that accompany Jesus’ speaking ministry. The passage ends with a summary message about Jesus’ purpose.

Jesus will demonstrate power over the supernatural world (:31-37). Unlike the synagogue service in Nazareth that appeared dead and formal, the service in Capernaum is attended by a man with a demon! (How interesting that Jesus responds in the latter setting, but not the former). The demon speaks in the plural (using “us”) and appears to believe that he cannot be exorcised without the man being destroyed. Jesus, however, separates the two—the demon (not an image-bearer and unredeemable) is sent away, the man is “unharmed”. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits …?”

Jesus demonstrates power over the natural world (:38-39) and demonstrates power for those in bondage (:40-41). Two other demonstrations of power follow. We meet Simon (Peter), and his mother-in-law is healed of a disease with a high fever. Once again, Jesus “rebukes” the disease, but this appears to be a natural ailment and not the direct result of demonic activity. A further healing scene shows Jesus touching “every one” brought to him. Demons cry out and flee at his very presence. No discussion.

Jesus will show that his Kingdom message is in keeping with his mission and God’s purpose (:42-44). Then, after a long night of ministry, Jesus departs. People come to him and beg him not to leave (how different than those at Nazareth and the demons). And, Jesus claims his teaching mission: I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose (:43).

Jesus has displayed power to demonstrate the authority of his kingdom message.

Zoom out for a second. Jesus isn’t physically with us. That’s the reason people aren’t coming up from the dead. That’s the reason diseases are still with us. But, what about us? How does God show His mighty power where we are between Jesus’ two comings?

Right now, God doesn’t normally raise people from the dead and heal all our diseases. That is part of the future or “not yet” fulness of the kingdom involving the restoration of all things that includes the resurrection of our bodies to sinlessness (1 Cor 15) and glorification (Rm 8.31). At the same time, there is a “now” aspect of the Kingdom of God where God shows His power in our lives.

Look for God’s present power in these verses: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1.13).

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses … He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Col 2.13, 15).

This release from sin’s stronghold on our lives in no less miraculous than Jesus’ display over demonic power in his earthly ministry. In fact, it’s more miraculous, because Jesus has now been to the cross. We see his power each time a life is changed, and one of us image-bearers turns to him in dependance! And then, we give praise to God and talk it, because Jesus has done his work in our lives!

The authority of Jesus is demonstrated in and proclaimed by those who belong to him!

How about you?

  1. If you know Him, where has God shown His power in your life? What did it look like when you trusted Jesus the first time?
  2. What strongholds has God broken down in Jesus’ name?
  3. Where do the habits of your heart need a word from Jesus?

And, if you’re in the Midwest, with our record-breaking snows this weekend, do stay safe and warm. If you’re elsewhere, envy us for all our exciting weather! And give thanks that we each have our special places to live …

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