Luke 4:31-37 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “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.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 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!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Jesus’ life begins to take on new significance as he moved toward the cross. He is described in Isaiah as being “a man of sorrows”! (Isaiah 53:3) These words were written about 700 years before Christ’s birth. It is obvious that Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus Christ because his descriptions were so precise. Jesus lived a rather boring life as the son of the carpenter and, after Joseph’s death, as the carpenter in Nazareth. Then at about age 30 he walked away from the little town he grew up in. He went to be baptized by John in the Jordan River and then the Holy Spirit took him into the wilderness of Judea to be tempted by Satan. So far as we know, this was the beginning of his struggle. When he came out of the wilderness he began to preach the gospel of the kingdom in the local synagogues.
All of this was growing out of the fact that Jesus moved from his human identity into his divine identity. When he came out of the water at baptism the spirit descended upon him “like a dove”. I do not believe the spirit was in the form of a dove but instead, it was settling on him with a fluttering motion like a dove. The next time you see a pigeon coming into land look at the pattern of its wings. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, he was baptized, and he went into the wilderness.
The Holy Spirit compelled him to go into the desert. I think we should remember this event when we think of being filled with the Holy Spirit today. Most people who are tuned into a Holy Spirit filling, by their remarks, would definitely not expect the Spirit to drive them into a wilderness! Jesus’ ministry was not marked by being carried along on flowery beds of ease. Using the words of Isaac Watts (Am I a Soldier of the Cross?) Jesus sailed through bloody seas. His ministry was marked by a daily battle. But along the way…
He began to gather followers. Let’s look at the account in Mark 1:16-20. Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus had met these men sometime before this account. John tells us of an earlier encounter at Jesus’ baptism. This would be at least six weeks before the formal calling of these men to follow him. While he was in the wilderness fighting with the devil they were back home with their family business — fishing.
John the Baptist was arrested and his public ministry came to an end. This marked the time for Jesus to begin his ministry. At least two of Jesus disciples had spent some time with John the Baptist. According to John’s Gospel (not the Baptist but the Apostle) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and another person who we believe was John, the brother of James, identified in Mark’s gospel.
It seems that, at least in the early days, Jesus’ disciples came and went from their homes to his ministry. Only toward the end of his life were there with him 24/7. Because we see an account in Luke’s gospel where Peter was back at work and Jesus came and spoke from his boat. Jesus confirmed Peter’s call at that time.
After he had begun to gather his disciples…
Jesus established a new base of operation. We will continue with the story in Mark 1:21. And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.
Several times in the Gospels — all four Gospels — Capernaum is mentioned as being his base of operations or his home. Many miracles and much teaching came down in Capernaum. So much so that Jesus pronounced woe on the city. He compared them to the evil city of Sodom. Saying “if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24).
It was in Capernaum that he was approached by a Roman centurion whose servant was sick. Because of the faith of the Roman, Jesus healed him at a distance.
It was at Capernaum that the tax collectors questioned Peter about Jesus paying taxes. It may be discouraging to many people today that Jesus immediately covered his tax as well as Peter’s.
At Capernaum, he questioned his disciples about their ambitions. He had just told them that he was going to be delivered into the hands of men and they would kill him. Then they immediately began to discuss who would be greatest in his kingdom. They never got the message clear. Only after his crucifixion and resurrection did they begin to understand. Along the way…
His teaching was powerful. Let’s continue with Mark1:22. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Jesus did not spend his teaching time quoting the professors. In fact, he had begun teaching them when he was 12 years old. He taught as one who had authority because he does have authority. His authority comes from the fact that he is the eternal Son of God! Before anything at all existed Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed together. His authority grew out of his person. When he became man he carried that authority with him. He had the authority to lay down his life and he had the authority to take it up again.
At least once, and possibly twice, he cleared the temple of moneychangers and those who would cheat the people in regard to their sacrifices.
He had authority on earth to heal the sick and to forgive sin. He had authority to cast out demons and he shared that authority with his disciples.
His teaching was powerful and with it…
He began to challenge the enemy. Let’s go back to Luke 4:12-13. And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
When Jesus went into the wilderness, compelled by the Holy Spirit, he went there for the very purpose of confronting Satan himself. Now we often think of Satan as being an enemy of ours but I dare say none of us qualify for such a powerful enemy. A junior demon can take on any of us anytime anywhere. But Jesus’ confrontation was with the enemy himself. Satan challenged him to turn stones into bread because he was hungry, having fasted 40 days. Jesus replied with Scripture. Then the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and again Jesus replied with Scripture. Satan challenged Jesus to jump off a building so that the angels would come to protect him. Again Jesus answered with Scripture. We can learn a great deal from the way Jesus dealt with temptation. We need to know the word so we can use it as a double-edged sword on our enemy who comes to “steal and kill and destroy” in contrast, Jesus “came that they (we) may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). As he challenged the enemy…
He confronted demonic forces. Let’s read Mark 1:23-27. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “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.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Again, he had this experience at Capernaum. I don’t know why the demon-possessed man was in the synagogue. I would have thought that the rulers of the synagogue would not allow a person who was clearly demon possessed to come into the synagogue. Neither do we have any explanation as to what is meant by an unclean spirit. We do not know how it manifests itself. But it doesn’t take much imagination to consider what unclean means. He might not outwardly have shown any symptoms. I am sure people with unclean spirits have been in our churches over the years. I am so grateful to God that he has authority over all these spirits. What happened, in this case, was the spirit saw Jesus and immediately challenged him. Jesus knew exactly what to do. First, silence him and then cast him out. When this happened the crowd was amazed at his exercise of authority. One of the consequences of this exercise of authority was…
He became widely known. Let’s look at Mark 1:28. And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Again and again, Jesus instructed those that he helped to tell no one. However, they felt a compulsion to tell who he was.
We can use the songwriter Don Francisco’s imagination on this topic. In one of his ballads, “Gotta Tell Somebody”, he recounts the story of the raising of Jairus’s daughter from the did. Afterward, he instructed Jairus and his wife not to tell anyone what happened. Then, in the song, not in the battle, Jairus says, “gotta tell somebody”, and that becomes a repeated theme throughout the song. Any parent can easily imagine how hard it would have been to remain silent if your child had been brought back from the dead!
His healing ministry was not confined to the synagogues. Wherever he went, wherever there was a need, Jesus healed sicknesses and cast out demons. There is no other period of time in which so many miracles were compressed in such a short time. Their purpose was obvious! John, in his gospel, refers to the miracles surrounding Jesus as “signs”. God the Father, beginning with his baptism, and continuing throughout his ministry provided evidence that Jesus was, without a doubt, who he claimed to be. It’s not enough to believe that Jesus existed we need to also believe he died as a substitute to pay for our sins. Also, he did not stay dead! We put faith in his work on the cross, repent of our sin, and confess him as Lord. When we do he saves us not by our works of righteousness but by his! If you have not done so, confess him as Lord so he can be your savior.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.