Jesus’ Authority Demonstrated (Luke 4:31-44)

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Sermon Transcript

One of the things that we often neglect or sometimes outright rebel against is authority. Now, I wasn’t around in the 1960s—I’m not that old. Some of the kids probably would think I am—but I do remember from those, hearing from those who were around at the time, it was a time of rebellion against authority. However, that’s not anything new. We still today as individuals tend to rebel against authority, especially when that authority tells us that we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing or that we should be doing something we’re not. So, we rebel.

We’re going to be looking at Luke chapter 4 verses 31 to 44. Luke 4:31-44. You can go and turn in your Bibles to there; or if you’re following us a YouVersion, you can—well—you’ll have it there already; or if it’s on your phone in another app, you can just swipe to it. But we’re here. We’re going to be looking at Jesus’ authority, and he’s going to demonstrate to us in various ways his authority that we must submit to if we’re going to truly follow Jesus Christ. Now, before I read the text, let’s have a word of prayer.

Father, as we read your word, I ask and I pray that you are glorified and blessed and lifted up and exalted by the reading of your word. And I pray that you will lift us up in your word, that you will convict us through your word, that you will challenge us through your word, that you will encourage us through your word. Whatever you need to do through your word, open up our minds, our hearts, our ears, our eyes, anything that we’ve shut down. God, tear down any wall that we have built that would keep us from hearing what you have to say through your word. And I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Beginning in verse 31, Luke writes:

31 And he [referring to Jesus here] 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.

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Now, before we look into what this text is saying to us, we have to have an understanding of miracles. We have to understand what the role of miracles are, and Darrell Bock outlined three that I believe adequately and fully explain the purpose of miracles. Now, the reason I’m going to do this is because, well, we have miracles very much in this text.

Miracles have three purposes. First, they demonstrate Jesus’ authority. Miracles demonstrate to us Jesus has authority. Second, they point to a deeper meaning. That is, they illustrate a spiritual truth. Third, they reveal the cosmic struggle between Jesus and evil (spoiler alert: Jesus wins). So, these are the purposes of miracles, and we’ll get a little bit more into miracles in a little bit and how they are mistaught and abused, and looking at what they actually tell us.

Now, looking at the text, in verses 31 to 37 and in verse 41—the reason for that break is because Luke talks about the demoniac person, then he talks about physical healing, then goes back to demons—and so in this, in the verses dealing with demons (verses 31 to 37 and in verse 41), we see that Jesus demonstrated his authority over evil.

Jesus demonstrated his authority over evil (vv. 31-37, 41)

Jesus is demonstrating to us—showing to us—that he has authority over evil. Now, what is evil? Evil is anything contrary to the work, the person, and the will of God. That’s evil. And so, yes, sin is evil. Any and all sin is by definition evil because it is contrary to the work, person, and the will of God. So, Jesus has authority over evil.

Now, he begins, Luke begins by talking about what Jesus did. Verses 31 to 32, he says, Jesus “went to Capernaum, city of Galilee, he was teaching them on the Sabbath.” And, by the way, everything in this passage, everything so far, happens on one day. Jesus had a busy day that day. So, he went to Capernaum, he’s teaching on the Sabbath, and yes, this is on the Sabbath. Now this would have been a Saturday for us. You could argue that if this was happening nowadays, it would be happening, let’s say, on a Sunday. But the point is it was on church day. He was teaching on the Sabbath, which was part of how Jesus operated. And it says the people “were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.” Jesus’ teaching was authoritative.

Now, a little bit of an understanding of how the rabbis would teach. They would do it in a very academic way. You see, a rabbi would read the text, and when he goes to explain that text, he would say, “And as we know from Rabbi So-and-So and Rabbi So-and-So over here and these other four Rabbis here who’ve all taught us, and therefore this teaching I’m giving you has authority because all these other people have said the same thing.” Now, those of you who’ve had to do research papers—I’ve had to do plenty, including my dissertation—understand the idea of research and citing your sources. By definition, when I did my dissertation, by definition I was not an authority; I needed to have sources—authoritative sources—that I could say, “Look to here, look to here, look to here, look to here, look to hear.” Therefore what I claim in my dissertation has authoritative weight to it because of all these other people, and that’s how the rabbis would do it.

Now, if you’ve ever been to court—I pray you haven’t been in to court as a defendant—but if you’ve ever been to court, let’s say on a jury or as a witness, you may have heard lawyers talking about, “Well, according to this case, the judge ruled this way. Therefore, your honor, we want you to rule in a similar way.” It’s what they call case law. What the lawyer is doing is saying, “My claim is not authoritative, so I’m going to reference and call upon all these other cases to give gravitas to my claim.”

Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus didn’t say, “Well, according to this Rabbi and this teacher and this person over here.” No, Jesus said, basically (as we see in Matthew chapter 6 and following), “You’ve heard it said, but I say.” Jesus didn’t cite other people; he was and is the authority. And the people recognized this: “Here’s this teacher, he’s not citing other people. He’s authoritative in his teaching.” Why? Well, he’s God the Son. What’s his creds? He’s God. Good enough for me. But his teaching was authoritative in and of itself.

So, Jesus was revealing to them he has authority and he is authority and that authority is then expressed regarding the demons in verses 33 to 37 and then in verse 41. Now let’s go through this and check out what’s happening here.

In verses—in the first part of 34, we see that the demon recognizes Jesus. What’s he say? He says, “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.” The demon recognizes Jesus. Jesus doesn’t come in and say, “Hey, demon, I’m Jesus of Nazareth. I’m the Messiah I’m . . . .” No, no, no. The demon just looks at him and knows immediately who this guy is: this is Messiah. The demons recognize Jesus. Do we?

Do we recognize our savior? The demons do. The difference between a demon and a follower of Jesus Christ is simply this: a follower of Jesus Christ submits to and worships Jesus. The demons have no faith; they don’t submit to Jesus as Lord and savior; they don’t worship him; they just acknowledge the reality of who he is. Are we better than the demons?

But the demon recognized who Jesus is. He calls him “the Holy One of God,” which, by the way, is a Messianic title. This title was actually used of others in the Old Testament who were types and shadows looking forward to Jesus and to the coming Messiah who is Jesus. And, for example, this title, “Holy One of God,” was used of Aaron in Psalm 106, used of Samson in Judges 13, used of Elisha in 2 Kings 4. So, we have these three men—Aaron, Samson, and Elisha—who all foreshadow, look forward to Christ the Messiah who were called the Holy One of God. And Jesus is the fulfillment—the ultimate—Holy One of God. The demon is recognizing Jesus is Messiah, but the demon doesn’t worship him.

Instead, what does he do? Verse 34—the second half of 34—the demon’s going to threaten battle. What’s he do? He says, “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are.” Now, there’s a change in number here. The demon says have you come to destroy “us.” Who’s the “us”? Some people say it’s more than one demon; some people say it’s referring to the demon and the man the demon is possessing. Well, immediately after asking of Jesus, “have you come to destroy us”—“I know who you are.” This seems to indicate that this is a single demon in this instance, and that the demon knows who Jesus is, and so the “us” is referring to the demon and the man. Essentially what the demon is telling Jesus is this: “You want to cast me out of this guy? You’re going to have to harm or kill him in the process. Let’s do battle! You willing to kill this guy, Jesus? Come on!” He’s trying to exercise authority over Jesus. However, Jesus has authority over him.

What’s Jesus say? Verse 35: “Jesus rebuked him” and said to him, “Be silent.” Jesus is exercising authority over the demon’s right to even speak. You want to do battle with Jesus? You lose. The demon’s already threatened, “This guy’s gonna be hurt if you try to cast me out,” and Jesus’ answer is “Close your mouth and stop talking. You’re done.” But he then tells him get out: “Be silent and come out of him.” Jesus is exercising authority over the demon’s right to possess anybody.

Jesus is authoritative. He tells the demon, “Be quiet and get out,” and what happens? “When the demon had thrown him down,” verse 35, “and when the demon had thrown him down in their midst . . . .” You see the demon is still trying to harm this guy. The demon is trying to do what he threatened to do: hurt this man. However, the demon does come out of him: “when he threw him down in their midst, he came out of him, having”—check this out—“having done him no harm.” Jesus has ultimate authority. Despite the threats of the demon, “This guy’s gonna be hurt,” Jesus’ answer was, “Get out and be quiet,” and the demon came out of him. Still tried to do harm but couldn’t do it. Why? Because Jesus had authority.

And if Jesus has authority over the demons, remember the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray: “Our father who’s in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us,” literally, “from the evil one.” Oh yes, if Jesus has the authority to cast out this demon and keep this demon from fulfilling his threat to do harm—oh yeah—Jesus has authority to deal with temptation in our lives, and Jesus has authority to protect us from Satan and all of his minions. Whether they are demons or false teachers, he has the authority to protect us from it because Jesus has the authority over evil.

But it continues, verses 36 to 37, check this out: the people that were there in the synagogue saw this and “they were all amazed,” it says, “they were amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word?’” You notice the focus here on what Jesus said, not the actual casting out of the demon, but the words Jesus is speaking. Goes back to his teaching with authority. “What is this word? With authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And word spread, says in verse 37, “And reports about him went [everywhere].” The people were astonished at Jesus’ authority. No other person had ever had this kind of authority. Well, because no other person is Jesus Christ. And what’d they do? They told others about Jesus: word “went out into every place in the surrounding region.”

“Have you heard what Jesus did? Have you heard what Jesus said? Do you know who this Jesus is?” They had an encounter with the authority of Jesus, and they told others about it. Do we say to others what we’ve seen and experienced in Jesus Christ, or do we keep silent? Do we share the good news of Jesus with others, or do we stay silent? Or to make this a little bit more personal, on one level—as a church—are we doing the best we can as a church to teach and preach the word of God, the good news of Jesus? As individuals—in our private lives—are we telling others about Jesus?

But Jesus had authority over the demon. And then in verse 41 (and I’m skipping some here), in verse 41 it says, “And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But [Jesus] rebuked them and would not allow them to speak,” because he knew that they knew that he was the Christ the Messiah, showing that it wasn’t just this one instance. This wasn’t a one-off thing. Jesus has authority over demons. All the powers of darkness are subordinate to God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Jesus has authority.

Now, it’s interesting here, he told the first demon to be quiet, which showed that Jesus had the authority to tell the demon, “You can’t speak right now.” But it says here that the demons knew he was Messiah, but Jesus would not let them declare it, he would not let them speak it, he would not let them say it, and Luke doesn’t tell us why.

Why did Jesus cause the demons or command the demons to stay silent about who he is? Wouldn’t Jesus want people to know who he is? Well Luke doesn’t tell us. In fact, none of the gospels tell us. Only thing that we know is that it’s because they knew he was Messiah. Okay. So, a lot of theologians speculate. Two of the leading reasons why Jesus would tell the demons, “You stay quiet,” is one: if the demons were professing it, people might associate Jesus with the demons. Can’t have that. That’s one possibility. Another possibility is this: it goes back to Jewish tradition—not the Old Testament, but tradition. Traditionally, it was taught that the Messiah, when he comes, would not be self-promoting, and if Jesus allowed the demons to speak this, it would be a form of self-promotion, and so Jesus was not going to allow that. But ultimately, we don’t know why Jesus told the demons to be quiet about his identity, we just know that he told them to be quiet about his identity. And in doing so, we do know that Jesus is indicating to the demons, to the people in the vicinity at the time, and to us that Jesus has authority over evil.

But it’s not just evil. Jesus also, in verses 38 to 40, demonstrates his authority over life, and here we have a miracle of physical healing.

Jesus demonstrated his authority over life (vv. 38-40)

What’s going on? Starting in verse 38, Jesus arose, left the synagogue (so, this is still occurring on the same day), went to Simon’s house, and let’s stop there. This is occurring after church; he went to Peter’s house. This Simon here is Simon Peter the Apostle. Yes, the same author of First Peter, Second Peter. Same guy talked about in Acts. Same guy that was rebuked by Paul in the Jerusalem Council. Same guy. And, by the way, same guy that in the book of Acts was shown a bunch of food that he was told to go and eat, so that’s just proof that we can eat bacon cheeseburgers. Okay, but um yeah, same Peter. This is the same Peter that denied Jesus. The same Peter that said, “I’ll go to any lengths that you go to, Jesus.” Same Peter that tradition says was hung upside down on a cross. Same Peter.

And so, Luke tells us that Jesus went to Simon’s (or Peter’s) house where Peter’s mother-in-law was very, very, very sick. We, in the book of Luke, have not been introduced to Peter. Just—boom—Peter’s house. Who’s Peter? Now, of course, we know, but the readers might go, “Hey, who’s Peter? Who’s Simon? I don’t know. Some guy.” Well, Matthew and Mark both include this same story of Peter’s mother-in-law being healed. However, Matthew and Mark, before the story, had introduced who Peter was; Luke just—nope—Peter. Why? Likely answer is this: the audience that Luke was writing to—already familiar with Peter. It’s like if I talked about Governor Abbott. I don’t have to explain to you who he is, you likely know who Governor Abbott is. So, but the idea here is they already know who he is. But what’s going on?

He goes to his house, the mother-in-law is very sick with a high fever, and it says in verse 38, “they appealed to Jesus on her behalf.” This is one of the early instances in the New Testament of intercessory prayer. People went to Jesus and said, “Jesus, help this other person. Jesus, help this other individual.” They were praying, seeking God on behalf of someone else. We’re told to do that. We’re told throughout Scripture, we must carry each other’s burdens, lift each other up in prayer. The writers of the New Testament, throughout many of the letters, ask the readers, “pray for us, pray for other people.” Intercessory prayer is vital. And, by the way, if you’re angry with someone, if you’re just feeling the angst build up against someone, stop and pray for them. It’s going to be hard to stay mad at someone that you’re praying for. But prayer for other people is vital. We pray for ourselves all the time. Alright, so? We pray for ourselves all the time—we should be praying all the time. But we should also pray for other people. Pray for their physical conditions. Pray for their spiritual conditions. But here, they ask Jesus to heal her, and what happens?

It says in verse 39—Luke says something here that Matthew and Mark do not say. Matthew and Mark give a different—look at the different details; Luke picks up on the detail that he says Jesus “stood over her.” Now, Matthew and Mark say that he took her hand, so he did both, but Luke (a doctor) points out that Jesus stood over the sick person in the same way that we might say the doctor stood over the patient, subtly indicating that Jesus is the great physician, told to us by a doctor: Luke.

But he “stood over her and rebuked the fever,” in verse 39. Jesus personified the fever and rebuked it as if it was a person.  And by doing so, by standing over her and speaking to this fever. Jesus is exercising authority over her life.

Here’s a woman who’s very sick—we don’t know how sick or with what, just very sick with a bad fever—and Jesus shows his authority to give her life. He “rebukes the fever,” and what happens? “Immediately,” verse 39, “the fever left her and she rose up and began to serve him.” And, by the way, guys, this is not an excuse that when your wife feels better, she has the obligation to serve you. That’s not what this is teaching, so don’t even go there. This is describing what happened, not prescribing a lifestyle here. I would actually recommend, guys, serve your wives. Wives, serve your husbands. Husbands, serve your wives. Serve each other. But the whole point is this: Jesus exercised authority over her life and healed her immediately. How much of a healing? So healed that—by the way, all the family could witness this, they could testify and verify the fever’s gone—and she went from extremely sick to perfectly healthy. Total healing. Total healing. Jesus has the authority over life.

And, of course, in verse 40: “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to [Jesus], . . . he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” Again, just more instances of Jesus exercising authority over life.

Now at this point, I need to address the elephant in the large room known as Christianity in general regarding physical healing. There are those out there who will look at these kinds of passages and tell you God’s purpose and plan and will is for every single person to be physically healed. That is not true, and by the way, half of those that tell you this are wearing glasses. So, if somebody comes to you and says, “I’m going to heal you physically because God wants to heal everybody,” and they’ve got a problem: red flag. But there are people that will tell you it is God’s purpose and will to make sure everybody is physically healed on this side of eternity, and if you’re not physically healed on this side of eternity, it’s your fault; you need to do something to get God to act. And, by the way, that’s exactly the same lie that Satan told Jesus.

If somebody tells you it is God’s will to heal you on this side, one hundred percent of the time, they’re lying to you; that is not what Scripture says. This is not a prescription or a passage telling us that God wants and wills to heal every person of every single disease on this side of eternity. That doctrine is known as the Prosperity Gospel. It is a false gospel. It is a heretical gospel. It is a non-Christian gospel. And those that promote it are promoting a lie. Don’t listen to them.

Remember, one of the purposes of miracles is to reveal a deeper truth. The physical healing in Scripture is not normative; it is didactic. In other words, it is teaching. What does it teach us? It teaches us a reality of a spiritual situation. The physical healing is an external illustration of the spiritual healing that Jesus brings. And, yes, those who are in Christ through faith will be free of all diseases on the other side of eternity, but we’re not there yet. But the illustration—but the story of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law and healing the others who were sick reveals that Jesus has authority over life, to give life, and to defeat death.

And, by the way, the reality is every single one of us apart from Jesus Christ are dead in our sins. Every single one of us are dead spiritually. We cannot fix it. We cannot heal ourselves. We are like the mother-in-law: sick and on our deathbed. We can’t heal ourselves, but Jesus has authority over life, and through his death and resurrection—shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins, coming back to life out of that grave, physically resurrecting, defeating death—all of those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus are given life immediately by Jesus. They’re saved immediately by the blood of Jesus through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

But the reality is, we deserve the death that we have coming to us. We’ve earned it. In Romans chapters 3 and 6, it tells us that we are guilty and have earned the death penalty. but the grace of God—the grace of God—is Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, Jesus has authority over life.

Jesus demonstrated his authority over the mission (vv. 42-44)

But not just authority over life: verses 42 to 44, check this out. In these two—in these three verses, we see that Jesus demonstrated his authority over the mission.

It says, “And when it was day,” in verse 42, “he departed,” so, that means he’d been working all night, “and when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them.” They wanted him to keep doing the miracles. They wanted the goodies. They wanted the tangible things of this world, and many today still want that. They want God to do the big things. They want God to give them the things of this world. They want God to give them happiness and pleasure, and peace, and resources, and you name it. Anything that’ll satisfy the flesh, they want all that right here, and they want it right now, and they don’t want anybody leaving. And many, many, many flock to faith healers who ultimately lead them astray and con them out of their money in the name of Jesus.

But the people here didn’t want Jesus to leave. They had a certain purpose that they wanted him to do: that is, “Keep healing us, keep giving us things, keep giving us what we want, keep doing the miracles, Jesus.” That was their purpose, that’s what they wanted, and Jesus’ answer was, “No, I have authority over the mission.” Verse 43: “but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’ And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” Jesus is emphasizing his mission, saying, “No, my mission is not here to do miracles”; his primary mission—what’s he say—“I must preach the good news.” His primary mission was teaching and preaching. That was his primary mission. The miracles were secondary. They were just support for the teaching, but the people wanted the miracles, and his answer was, “No, that’s not my mission. My mission is to preach and teach the kingdom of God, the gospel, the good news.”

He says, also, that it’s to preach it—not just what to preach, but also to whom. He says, “to the other towns as well.” Not just to the people right here, but to people everywhere. This message is for everybody. That is his mission.

Many today try to redefine the mission of the church. The mission of the church is redefined as—by some—as social justice. That’s not the mission of the church. Some redefine the mission of the church as simply growing in big numbers. That’s not the mission of the church. Some make the mission of the church to entertain and pacify and please the crowds. That’s not the mission of the church. Some make the mission of the church to be a social center, a gathering place for people to come and have a good time. That’s not the mission of the church. The mission of the church is to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus.

So, like I asked earlier, as a church—I’m not talking church globally, I’m talking Cornerstone—as a church, are we focused on doing the mission Jesus gave us of preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus, or is our mission here something else? Jesus has authority over the mission, and he’s given us the mission. So, as a church, are we following his mission or our own?

And as individuals—as individuals in our private lives—is our mission, our purpose in life, something we devise, or is it in submission to the mission of Jesus to live, proclaim, and teach the kingdom of God?

I summarize it this way: our mission as a church and as individuals is three things—to know the gospel (that is, to have a growing, personal relationship with Jesus), it is to show the gospel (that is, to serve one another and love others as God has loved us), and it is to share the gospel (to proclaim the good news, to evangelize). That is the mission Jesus gave: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to all the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And at the end of the story, before his ascension, he gave the Great Commission, telling his disciples (including us), “This mission is your mission.” Jesus has authority over the mission, so we either submit to his authority or we rebel against it.

So, Jesus has demonstrated his authority over evil, over life, and over the mission. Jesus is the authority. Do we submit to Jesus, or do we rebel against him and do our own thing?

I can’t answer that for anybody but myself, and you can’t answer that for anybody but yourself. It’s easy to look around and point fingers and look at this person and that person and say, “Well, they’re not” or “they are” or whatever. That’s not what we’re here to do. We must look at ourselves and ask God, “Show me every place where I have rebelled against your authority and created an idol of my own construction.” Seek God’s forgiveness, and then begin walking in that forgiveness.

Let’s pray.

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