Faithlife Sermons

Jesus' Power and Authority

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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If this Jesus has authority over disease and demons, over the physical world and the spiritual world, authority to bring the righteous rule of God to earth and offer it to us, should we not listen and obey?!


Jesus’ Power and Authority - Luke 4:31-44

“Man, are my eyes deceiving me? Did that just happen?” - Three things I’ve watched recently during this ‘social distancing’ have given me pause to consider the way that something absolutely incredible can become almost trivial in our minds with time and exposure.
The documentary series that has come out about Michael Jordan has us remembering again that reaction. When you watched MJ play basketball, whether you were a Chicago fan or not, would it not cause reactions like this [face and hands]? I mean, it would get you out of your seat. Someone stated well in the first episode: “He never turned it off!” So basically, you couldn’t take your eyes away.
Another documentary on the NASA Apollo missions reminded me just how mundane it quickly became that man had walked on the moon. Not once, not twice, but multiple times (btwn ‘69-71). The entire world was on the edge of their seat for the first one… many of you can remember where you were when it happened. The next time was less impressive, and soon the funding wained, as did public interest, to the point where there was active opposition to "wasting money on that when we should be helping people here on earth.”
The third on this list, but actually the first we watched, and the one with the greatest significance, is a series called The Chosen, which is a creative portrayal of the lives of those whom Jesus called to be his followers during his public ministry. When director Dallas Jenkins gives you opportunity to experience the person and ministry of Jesus with fresh eyes, from the view of people we know in the Bible that Christ impacted personally, none of it feels trite or hackneyed.
Maybe we’ve become too accustomed to hearing and reading about the miracles and teaching of Jesus, such that he doesn’t shock us and enthrall us. I challenge you to read and listen to the Gospels with fresh eyes, imagining yourself as Simon Peter, as someone healed from demon possession, as one who was there and saw it firsthand. The author Luke couldn’t film a documentary, but he did document these details such that the reader will put themselves in the shoes of those experiencing these things with Jesus, and then either rejecting or responding to him.
--- Today as we study the text in Luke 4, I’m praying that we’ll see this with fresh eyes. - Who is this Jesus? Who can do such works and teach with such power? How should we respond to this authority?
Here is my plan for tackling the text: to first look at what happens—the three examples of miracles, next to talk about what it means that Jesus’ word possesses such authority, then to consider Jesus’ response that he must continue to spread the good news of the kingdom of God, and finally to re-emphasize that our response ought to be one of submission and service to this one who is Lord of heaven and earth.
Last week’s text (Lk 4:14-30) provided a summary of his ministry and an example of Jesus’ teaching, and now Luke follows that in Luke 4:31-44 with examples of Jesus’ ministry of healing the sick and casting out demons.
That prior section included a confrontation at Nazareth with his hometown’s unbelief, and this week the confrontation is with demons. - It also takes place on a single Sabbath, not in Nazareth this time, but in Capernaum. [map] Capernaum, also the home town of Peter and Andrew, would later become Jesus’ home base, since he was rejected at Nazareth.
And this time is a far different picture of a Sabbath day… instead of refusing to do miracles where he would not be truly received (Nazareth), here he performs two miracles on the Sabbath and then many in the evening when the Sabbath has ended. Imagine: over the next year or two of his ministry, this would represent a typical day in the life of the Lord!
But after all is done, the people here (unlike Nazareth), want Jesus to stay. It may yet be the case, however, that their reason for wanting Jesus to stay remains superficial. Either way, Jesus tells them that he must continue his ministry in other places to preach the good news.
First of all, then…

What Happens? - Miracles of Power Over Demons and Disease

3 Powerful Examples Of Jesus’ power & authority - Teaching in action, illustrations of his power, authentication of his authority
1. Jesus is teaching again on the Sabbath, but there is an interruption/a disturbance in the synagogue from a demon loudly reacting to the presence of Jesus.
I imagine the demon-possessed man entering the synagogue where Jesus has been teaching, and causing a great disruption with his screaming. The demon is the one in control, and recognizes Jesus, knowing that he is both the Holy One of God (unique, set apart, and pure), and that he has power and authority over the spirit realm (“Have you come to destroy us?”).
Now all eyes in the synagogue are on Jesus and this demonic accuser. With a simple, straightforward, and unadorned command, Jesus silences and casts the demon out. As the demon leaves him, he throws the man down, but he is unharmed.
The people do marvel and recognize Jesus’ power and authority over the demons with a word. [quote in v. 36]
In v. 37 Luke notes in another summary statement that report about Jesus spreads rapidly in the whole region. And we see in the coming chapters of Luke that this continues and Jesus becomes quite the noteworthy public figure.
2. The healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Mark and Matthew (in their accounts of this incident) refer to Jesus’ gentleness toward her in taking her by the hand, but Luke emphasizes his authority in stating that he “rebukes” the fever. - For me it calls to mind the “Who then is this?” reaction from the disciples when Jesus calmed the storm: “Even the wind and the waves obey him.” (Luke 8, Mt 8, and Mk 4)
And the healing is instant. Normally we would expect the weakness from the fever to wear off gradually, but she is immediately back to full health and strength and begins serving them. - “The instantaneousness of the healings shows in another way the totality and consistency of this authority.” (Bock, 425)
3. A series of healings at sundown. - “They point to the nature of the times and the identity of his person” (Bock, 426)
When the Sabbath has ended, the townspeople flock to Jesus for healing. - Before this, it would have been unlawful to carry the sick to where Jesus was, but as soon as Sabbath is ending, people bring their sick to Jesus.
I notice that the Lord is approachable. People have confidence to ask him for help and to believe he can meet their need. - Also, Jesus heals people one by one, and from “various” diseases. (Rather than a mass group healing to be done with it, he takes the time to touch and heal each one.)
And demons come out of “many.” - We should ask: Was there more demonic activity in this time and place than most (if not all) other times and locales in history?
(Steve Cole) “Did you know that outside of the Gospels, there are only four references to demon-possession in the whole Bible: two in the Old Testament (Saul, 1 Sam. 16:14 ff.; the deceiving spirits in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets, 1 Kings 22:22 ff.) and two in the Book of Acts (the Philippian servant girl, 16:16 ff.; the sons of Sceva, 19:13 ff.; see Norval Geldenhuys, Luke [Eerdmans], p. 174)? It seems that when Jesus began to minister, the powers of hell knew that they were in a battle to the death, and so Satan unleashed his forces to oppose Jesus.”
How does this compare to demonic influence in our day? - We shouldn’t be living in fear that an evil spirit is lurking around every corner, or suspecting that every (or even most) physical disease has demonic activity behind it.
In this last section, “Luke clearly distinguishes between the casting out of demons and healing, showing that not all diseases are due to demonic power....” Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1958. - In fact, do you notice that in the NT Jesus never has to diagnose someone as demon possessed in order for those around to recognize that such is the case. In other words, it was evident.
(Cole) Demonic forces are very much at work in our world today, although sometimes they are given more credit than they deserve. The world and the flesh are usually quite capable of dragging us into sin without demonic influence. Believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and thus cannot be possessed by demons, but believers can come under demonic attack (Eph. 6:10-20) and opposition (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Thess. 2:18). Evil spirits are sometimes behind false doctrine, and thus we must be discerning (1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1).
So Jesus can cast our demons and heal people of any form of physical deformity or disease.

What Does This Mean? - The Lord of All Speaks With Authority

Illust. When someone tells you to do something, whether or not they have authority and power impacts your response! - When your boss says, “Complete these tasks while I’m out of town.” vs. When your sibling says, “You may not ever sit on my bed.”
“His word possessed authority” - Jesus’ word is far from much of what we get from teachers these days, even voices leading in churches, large and small. There’s a great deal of positive thinking and self-help, which is often what people want and think they need. (Sound familiar - 2 Timothy 4:3)
2 Timothy 4:3 ESV
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
Jesus is MUCH more than some positive thinker. “To lower Jesus to such levels destroys the biblical portrait of him and rids the gospel of one of its connections to God’s power, which can reverse evil.” (Bock, 427) - Jesus, who is God the Son in human flesh, one with the Father and with the Spirit in the triune Godhead, is the author of creation and author of the Bible… It makes sense that he speaks with authority concerning the scriptures, unlike the other Rabbis who were mere students of the law (and often not very good ones at that… obeying the letter but not the spirit).
Since God is the one with all power and authority, and what he says is authoritative, then his written word, the Bible, is authoritative for our lives. We don’t get to pick and choose which things we are comfortable with and prefer to obey. There may be times that we need to study intently to interpret God’s word according to his intention, but we can never ignore it, especially where his intention is plain (and that’s most everywhere!). - (Steve Cole) “When we come to the Word, we must study it for understanding, because we cannot obey what we do not know. But our knowledge should always be with a view to obedience.”
What’s more, because of Jesus, we have direct access as his children to the One who has given us his authoritative word!
Here’s the point: Jesus speaks the things of God with authority because he is God!
The interaction between Jesus and the first demon and then other demons is really intriguing: We have confessions from the spirit world - The “Holy One of God,” and “the Son of God” (And Jesus silences them.) - “He did not need or desire the testimony of these evil witnesses, even though what they said was true.” (Cole)
What he is looking for is that we should confess him as Lord!
Interestingly, the conclusion to our section reveals a matter seen elsewhere in the gospels, namely that the miracles he performs are meant to authenticate the message. The priority is to spread the good news that heaven has come down to earth, that those who believe in Jesus will have access by his grace to the very presence of God.

What Must Jesus Do? - Spread the Good News

… of the Kingdom of God
The next day (after all this miraculous healing) Jesus goes off by himself out of town and away from all the people, as he often does to pray (see Mk). When they try to keep him in Capernaum, he says that he must go to many towns throughout Judea (here almost certainly a broad reference to the whole region of Palestine) in order to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Leon Morris points out that this is the first mention of the kingdom of God, a “favourite theme in Jesus’ teaching.” And perhaps a helpful way to describe it simply is “God’s rule in action.” The kingdom of God though is a broad and complex subject, including both present and future aspects.
Jesus can say that the kingdom of God is at hand because his presence on earth brings with him the inauguration of God’s rule on earth in a spiritual way that was not present before. It is made possible only by the death and resurrection of the Lord, and said Kingdom is initiated and spread in the lives of those who belong to him by faith and thus receive the gift of the Holy Spirit—that is, the Church.
But there is another aspect of this promised kingdom that is yet to be fulfilled, in which Jesus will rule in a physical, a visible way that all will know and see that he is Lord of all. Such is one of the reasons the NT describes this age, from the time of the Apostles even until now, as “the last days.” We are living in the last days because Christ’s Kingdom has come, he has shown himself to be Messiah and Lord, and one day soon, even though we don’t know when (a time appointed by the Father), the whole world will see visibly that Jesus is Lord!
Based on what Jesus describes thus far as his mission, I want to make two applications about our mission as God’s people: The mission is to spread the message of the good news of Jesus Christ, and the message has power because God is in it.
The message can’t stay in one place; it must go forth. (We must learn to think in our own context to behave like overseas missionaries…)
Illust. - Me telling talking to a Yanomami friend in high school about the stars, and that our sun is a star. I used that as a way to reinforce the Gospel that the God who created all these things sent Jesus to earth.
As we noted today, the spirit world is real, which also means the movement of the Spirit of God is real as we share the message, as well as the reality of opposition to that message by Satan and his demons (and the nature of our sin!)
Jesus tells us by his authority in the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20) to make disciples among all nations, and he promises the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Jesus delivers what he offers. The Holy Spirit in you is the confirmation of your confession, he is your comfort, and he is your confidence… as you seek to be like Jesus and to spread the good news concerning him to those around you!

How Should We Respond? - Submit & Serve

Illust. - Back for a moment to where we started: My fifth grade year was the only opportunity I had to watch lives games. I tried not to miss a single one. - I do not want to become complacent about what Jesus has done, and what he has done in me, and what he can do for others!
If this Jesus has authority over disease and demons, over the physical world and the spiritual world, authority to bring the righteous rule of God to earth and offer it to us, should we not listen and obey?! - Even demons and disease obey his power and authority. Shouldn’t we?
What is the only thing that makes sense when the truth of Jesus’ power and authority stares us in the face? We must turn to Jesus for help, submitting to his authority and power, submitting to him as Lord, who is able to deliver you from bondage to sin and the wrath of God against your sin, offering you forgiveness and new life in Him.
3 Reasons to turn to Jesus (connected with our text today):
Because of our desperate need (situation), we should be lining up to get help from Jesus!
Knowing that Jesus has compassion and care for each individual who comes to him for help...
He is powerful to meet the need. - He has authority to give you spiritual life, to restore you to God.
So, just as we stated last week concerning his teaching, the proper response is submission!... And the only thing that makes sense once we know we should submit to him, is to also serve him with all that are and have, because he alone is worthy. … aiming to serve his purpose, to advance his mission.
I think we always need to be asking ourselves, evaluating our lives, to see if we are understanding rightly that his grace to us is so that we can submit and serve. It’s a major risk that we see in the NT, and in our current culture of so-called Christianity, that people want Jesus for what he offers them, they wanted to use him for his miracles and hopefully to make him their political Messiah. But they miss the more profound meaning of Jesus message and mission. He is Lord of all and is worthy of our total submission and full-time service to Him.
It isn’t part-time. It isn’t an on again, off again, relationship. Jesus requires all of me... but he is worth it! Nothing else will do. Nothing else in this life could be worth submitting everything else in my life to his leading. Nothing else in this life could be worth sacrificial service no matter what it takes. But when by his grace God helps me to see and worship Jesus as Lord, nothing else compares to living for His Kingdom.
So we pray to God for help and for sensitive hearts to his leading, and we pour over his words to learn of his character and purposes for us, and we train ourselves with rigorous discipline, and we pray for boldness to proclaim with clarity that the author of life came to earth and gave his life and took it up again, so that in him we may have eternal life! Now that’s something to live for.
Please close with me in a PRAYER of gratitude to the Father. - Father God, help us to be shocked and enthralled with Jesus. By your grace, bc of Christ’s atoning death and glorious resurrection, forgive our sin and make us your own. And may we continue in that submission to your Lordship, serving you with everything that we are and have, knowing that our Lord Jesus is worthy of that worship. Amen.
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