Lukeby Mike Raiter
Capernaum was Jesus’ base of operations for His ministry throughout Galilee. As in Nazareth, here He devotes himself to teaching and enters the synagogue. In the synagogue, He again confronts the spiritual forces of evil, this time in a demon-possessed man. Jesus has already engaged with Satan; now He confronts one of Satan’s servants. The demon cries out, “Have you come to destroy us?” (v. 34). How ironic, given that destruction is the first work of Satan and his hosts. For this reason, Luke reminds us that when Jesus casts out the demon, the man is both cleansed and unhurt. Satan comes to destroy life. Jesus comes to give life (John 10:10).
The demon also bears witness to who Jesus is, proclaiming Him God’s Son and the Christ, or Messiah (v. 41). Jesus silences the demon because He knows that the people hold mistaken ideas about the work the promised Christ will do when He comes. They were expecting a political liberator. Jesus must first teach them the true nature and work of His Messiahship. He has come primarily to set people free from spiritual bondage. Indeed, it will be by His death as the crucified Christ, that Jesus will demonstrate most clearly the true work the Messiah has come to do.
Jesus performed many wonders because His heart of compassion went out to the suffering. Throughout His earthly ministry, and even today, Jesus demonstrates His concern for the whole person, both physical and spiritual. However, we must not repeat the mistake of the people back then by concluding that Jesus came mainly to relieve people’s physical sufferings. Even when Jesus withdraws from the crowds, they follow Him, begging Him not to leave. Jesus, though, cannot be distracted from the main work God has sent Him to do. He tells them He must go to other places to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom” (v. 43). Preaching the gospel was Jesus’ priority in His ministry.
We live in a world of overwhelming human need. Like Jesus, our hearts must remain tender to those who are suffering, but Jesus’ first work must be ours as well: to preach the good news of the kingdom.
What does it mean for Jesus to teach with authority (v. 32)? In what sense do we, or don’t we, teach and minister with the same authority?
How do you balance meeting the spiritual and physical needs of people? What makes it difficult for us to maintain our priority of proclaiming good news to the poor?