Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Authority of the Messiah

Luke 4:31-44

Last time we heard Jesus introduce Himself and His mission in the synagogue at Nazareth. He declared, using Isaiah 61, that He was there to bring insight and perform a rescue. The insight is into the true condition of humanity—oppressed and taken captive by sin, controlled by the sinful nature and the forces of darkness in this age. The rescue is from those forces which cause all manner of problems for humanity including, it appears from what we read today, even sickness and disease.

Today we see Jesus exert authority as the King in God’s kingdom. But we mustn’t lose sight of Luke’s broad point through Chapter 9— “who is this man?”

There are three set-pieces that we will look at today: Jesus’ authority in the Scriptures, His authority over the demon realm and disease, and His focus on His mission to preach the gospel no matter what.

31 – 32

Jesus returned to the Galilee region and to Capernaum, His headquarters. He continued doing what He’d done in Nazareth, that is to go into the Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath and teach the Scriptures. I like that model. Everything Jesus did came from a foundation of a clear understanding and declaration of God’s Word, which He is, of course. Our understanding of reality and of our mission should also spring from that foundation.

Unlike at Nazareth, the people of Capernaum were “astonished” at His teaching. The Greek word means “strike out of one’s senses.” Back in Nazareth the people were at first amazed at His teaching. But the Greek word is different. There it means: “regard with amazement, and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter.” It is a bit of a degree difference here, but suggests to me that in Jesus’ hometown they were impressed but not convinced. Here in Capernaum they are all in.

One reason they were amazed and bowled over by His teaching is that He didn’t do as the other Rabbis did and quote Rabbi So-and-so for support in their arguments. Jesus simply stated things as truth. He could do it because He wrote the Scriptures!

So as if that wasn’t enough, Jesus takes direct charge over the spirit realm.

33 – 37

Make no mistake, the demons knew who Jesus was. The demon, who had possessed a man in the synagogue, cried out—trying to exert authority over Jesus by calling Him out as the Messiah directly (“Holy One of God”) before Jesus was ready to do so. Jesus exerted authority over the demon by simply rebuking it to shut up and come out—which it did instantly. Luke also notes that it didn’t hurt the man on the way out—which was something the demons apparently could do as they controlled the voice and the body of those they possessed.

The Greek word that’s used for the people’s reaction means “astonishment on the verge of terror or fear.” The word comes from a Sanskrit root that means: “to make immoveable.” The idea here is of being stunned and dumbfounded.

Not only did Jesus command authority when He spoke God’s Word but He demonstrated that authority over something none of them could ever dream of controlling.

Now just a side note here—if Jesus can control demons, don’t you think He can control events in your life? It doesn’t mean things will always go the way you think they should, but when God’s Word says He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) then we can know He is in ultimate charge and that should give us a measure of peace and hope.

The response of the people was “what is this message?” I like that. I think that should always be our response when Jesus steps into a situation with His Word and His authority as the Messiah. We should wonder and we should explore—ask questions, ponder, and be convinced that He is the rescuer.

So most likely the people in that synagogue in Capernaum went and told all their friends, neighbors, and relatives about this Man—and word of mouth spread quickly that Someone very special was there.

38 – 39

This episode gives us several pieces of information. Peter was married, and his mother-in-law lived with them. Apparently she was a widow without sons of her own. It appears that at this point in the story Peter has not been called one of His disciples. That happens in Chapter 5. We need to understand that the gospels are not biographies so the order of events is not always the same between them (Matthew has it happen in a different order for instance).

Luke here is illustrating Jesus’ power and authority. First it is over God’s Word—when Jesus speaks it is as if God was speaking (because it is), then it is over the spirit realm, now it is over the physical realm. Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever.

Now it says that after Jesus rebuked the fever that she got up and served Him. I like this because it is a wonderful response to the Savior’s ministering to her. He served her, so she now serves Him. Should that not be our response to the wonderful service Jesus brings to us by dying on the cross for us? Should we not also want to do anything for Him?

Well, word got out that Jesus could heal physical disease. They didn’t have doctors or medical science in those days so when sickness hit they were nearly powerless to do anything about it.

40 – 41

Notice that they waited until the sun was setting—this was the official end of the Sabbath, so the people could move about freely. Notice too that both the freeing of the demon-possessed man and the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law occurred on the Sabbath—in violation of the religious leader’s rules against healing because it was performing “work”. An interesting side note—there is one exception to the Sabbath rest law—God owns the Sabbath and can do anything He wants on it.

These verses mirror what had happened earlier. Everywhere Jesus went people were healed of disease and freed from the clutches of the enemy. This is such a great picture of what Jesus did on the cross to free us from sin and what He will do permanently when He returns or when we go to be with Him: giving us a new body free from all physical malady. Also notice that Jesus will not let Satan say anything about Him. The Devil will never speak the complete truth so we don’t let him express the gospel!

42 – 44

It appears that Jesus went all night—or perhaps healed well into the night and after little or no rest heads out to a “deserted” place—to pray (Mark 1:35-38). This was Jesus’ way to recharge—seek time alone with His Father. What great advice for us after we’ve worked hard for the gospel. It’s interesting here because Luke says the crowds searched for Jesus—presumably more who needed healing. But Mark says that Peter and the disciples reached Jesus first and complained that He’d walked away. Jesus apparently had already headed out for another town—not concerned at all, while His men may have wondered why He left when popularity was just building.

Jesus orients them back to His core mission: to preach the same message as He had in Nazareth broadly.


So in this account we see Jesus demonstrate the authority He proclaimed in Nazareth—namely that He was the Messiah, sent on a rescue mission—to give sight into our need, and then provide release from that which binds us in prison to sin and to the enemy. He then demonstrates that authority through healing and deliverance as a sort of down payment on a much larger work that He will do on the cross.

We cannot lose sight of Jesus’ authority—over the spiritual and physical realms. When He speaks the kingdom of darkness is pushed back—and there is a hint here of the ultimate judgment of that kingdom and all who belong to it. Whereas in Jesus kingdom there is release, healing, and hope.

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