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We live in a culture that struggles to submit to authority. The automatic reaction of many is to challenge authority in every sphere of life. Such an outlook was evident in Eden when man refused to accept the Creator’s authority. When the Messiah comes, we see him exercise an authority that none can miss, however reluctant they may be to submit to it. We turn now to consider Luke 4:31-44 The Messiah’s authority.
1. Authority in teaching
Jesus makes a strong impression on his hearers in Capernaum – ‘his message had authority’ (v32). In his teaching as well as his works, Jesus displays messianic authority. The traditional teaching method of the scribes was appeal to the authority of earlier generations of rabbis, not their own opinions. Jesus taught with authority because:
– He taught from God – bringing direct revelation (John 8:28), not from human sources.
– He taught as God – speaking as the incarnate Son of God. The same pattern is evident in the Sermon on the Mount – ‘But I tell you…’ (Matthew 5:22) – the words of God.
2. Authority over demons
Preaching was accompanied by action – frequent exorcisms, such as v33-35. Note that the demon recognises Jesus (v34) but there is no resulting faith (see James 1:19). Jesus responds with absolute authority – no struggle, no debate. The demon must obey his command – ‘Come out of him’ – and the man is freed. This has a profound effect on the witnesses (v36). There was a great upsurge of demonic activity during Jesus’ ministry because they understood the threat he posed (v41). He came ‘to destroy the devil’s work’ (1 John 3:8). The demons could not frustrate the ministry of the Messiah – he wields unquestionable authority.
3. Authority over sickness
The healings such as those in v38-40 are also evidence of messianic authority. Doctor Luke is more precise than others about the illness of ‘Simon’s mother-in-law’ (v38). Healing is instant and complete, no convalescence needed. In the evening many are brought to Jesus for healing from sickness and demon possession (recognised as different). The healings support his message. They are ‘signs’ of his identity as Messiah and indicators that he has come to transform lives. Physical healing will pass, but he brings profound spiritual change, the ‘year of the Lord’s favour’ (v18-19). Jesus gives life ‘to the full’ (John 10:10).
4. Authority in mission
Note v42 ‘Jesus went out to a solitary place – there he prayed (Mark1:35). Communion with his Father was crucial to his ministry. Despite requests to stay, he responds, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent’ (v43). He has a divine mission to carry out, as he said in the temple, aged 12 (2:49). He proclaims ‘the kingdom of God’ – the saving reign of God. The Messiah provides full salvation from sin and all that destroys life. The Messiah has full authority to save and transform sinners.