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Note on sermon preached 4 July 2010 on Luke 4 v.31-44
Having been rejected in his home town of Nazareth Jesus goes to the most important and strategic town in the region of Galilee – Capernaum. This appears to his base for a year or more as he ministers widely in Galilee. It was a year of amazing excitement, power and popularity.
Luke, the systematic historian, decides to give us a flavour of this period by taking us through a day in this period. It was a Sabboth, and we can assume that there would be many Sabboths like this in this dynamic period.
We see four things shown in this account:
1. The Great Preacher
The account starts and ends with Jesus preaching. He preaches in the synagogues and goes from town to town preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. We see:
– The primacy of preaching. This was essentially a preaching tour by Jesus. Yes – much else besides – but Jesus conducted his ministry through preaching of the word. Our church needs to be one which puts the preaching of the word in a central place.
– The power of preaching. People were amazed when they heard the preaching of Jesus. It had authority and it had power. Preaching that changes people’s lives will not be second – hand re-hashes of someone else’s views – rather it will be an authoritative declaration of the kingdom of God. We must not settle for anything less.
– The persistence of preaching. Jesus was prepared to leave a healing crusade in order to continue to preach the word of God. Nothing must stop us: the church needs to be a preaching centre
2. The Great Deliverer
When the kingdom of God is proclaimed on power under the authority of the Holy Spirit, the demonic is challenged. Here we see Jesus proclaiming the word of God with power and it immediately challenges and confronts the demonic. We see clearly the authority of Jesus as He commands the demons to leave, and they must do so without hurting the person.
3. The Great Healer
Having heard the word of God preached with power, Jesus is called upon to minister to a particular need that has arisen. Simon’s mother-in-law is ill! Jesus again demonstrates his power and authority, and the presence of the kingdom of God by immediately healing her. Notice the response: she immediately begins to wait on Jesus and his disciples. What been our response to being healed by Jesus? We are healed to serve.
This is followed by the most amazing spectacle. At the end of the Sabbath Jesus is inundated by those needing healing or deliverance. For those who needed a demonstration of the authority of Jesus, it was plain for all to see.
We take a brief diversion at this point. As we go through the gospel of Luke we see repeatedly examples of Jesus ministering in power. The question that we have to ask is: can we reasonably expect to see such things today. The answer is: yes. As always it is subject to the Sovereignty of God and to the faith and faithfulness for his people. But the biblical record is that we may reasonably come to God and ask Him to do everything that we see in the gospels.
There is a view, known as “cessationism”, which argues that the miraculous was given to authenticate the message, firstly, of Jesus and then of his apostles. For a full consideration of this see Wayne Grudem’s discussion in his “Sysetmatic Theology and Jack Deere’s book “Surprised by the Power of God”. For now, let it be clear that our position is a non-cessationist position: namely we take the view that all the ministries, gifts and signs reported in the New testament are available to believers today.
However this gives rise to one more question that we must not dodge. If the events of Luke 4 are available to us today, why do we not see them in a greater measure? This is certainly a serious question which deserves to be answered.
Firstly, we have to say, that we could just as easily say, “why are there not more people saved” or “why is there not more powerful preaching?” as to say “why are there not more healings?”
We can comment:
a) Although it is our contention that all ministries are available today, it is equally true that it is unlikely that there will be a ministry as intense and perfect as that of the Lord Jesus. So the likelihood of someone healing in such power is as likely as someone preaching a message with the power of the sermon on the mount,
b) All moves of the Holy Spirit are – like salvation – dependent on the sovereignty of God. It does not depend on our will – but on God’s choice. God gives gifts “as he will”
However, this does not mean that we can do nothing to bring about an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the way that we see here. This brings us to our fourth point:
4. The Great Secret
At daybreak Jesus withdrew to a lonely place. What was he doing? We know the answer – though Luke does not tell us here, The fact is that Jesus busy ministry was sustained by constant dependence on His Father in prayer. We really can not expect to see the power of God poured out unless we give ourselves to prayer. Do we?
What an amazing experience in must have been to be a part of theis day in the life of Jesus. And we can reasonably assume that there would have many more such days. Let’s enjoy the record that we have of the authority and power of the Son of God. And let’s ask, believe, trust and long for Him to do the same amongst us.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”