Luke 4:31-44 The Messiah’s authority Joint Service with Shaftesbury Square & Airdrie RPC

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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.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 God is Faithful

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In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is addressing a church which has its fair share of problems. There are factions within the church, sexual immorality is prevalent, lawsuits are being carried out amongst believers and the resurrection of Christ is being denied. Here then was a Church of God (v.2) not acting as they ought to. How would you have approached this situation? Remarkably Paul begins with thanksgiving. He is writing to correct and address the issues in Corinth, but begins with thanksgiving. Paul’s hope for the reform of the Corinthian church is not in their ability to change themselves, but in a faithful God who supplies grace for change and endurance. From that place of confidence, Paul addresses the Corinthian Church.

  1. Grace Given by God

Paul begins by thanking God for giving grace to the Corinthians (v.4). Saving grace must have been received as Paul refers to those ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus’. The grace that allowed Paul to legitimately regard these people as believers was from God, through Christ. It’s grace because it’s undeserved. Think of what these believers were like before grace. Nothing in that collection of people was deserving of God’s salvation. Give thanks then that God saves by grace and not by merit. We are all saved by grace. Paul doesn’t commend the Corinthians for their merits, but he thanks God for his grace towards these people. Salvation is a work of God and it is given to us. Do we recognise this and are we thankful for this?

  • Equipped to Await Christ’s return

Having received salvation, we still need to navigate living in a sinful world. A new heaven and a new earth await us but we aren’t there yet and we are called to wait for the Lord’s return. Thankfully, we are not left to navigate this wait on our own – grace saves and grace equips us to await for the Lord’s return. The Corinthians were enriched and gifted, so that they lacked no gift as they waited (v.7). In a sense, the Corinthians had no excuse. God had equipped them through Christ and the Spirit to endure and they had gone astray. They were neglecting and misusing God’s gifts. Yes, these people had been saved, but they had also been ‘called to be holy’. They are responsible for living holy lives. We have a calling and a responsibility to live holy lives before God as we await the Lord’s return. Thankfully God equips us for this.

  • Fellowship Guaranteed by a Faithful God

Even as we pursue holiness in this life, we fall short and this can cause believers anxiety about possibly losing their salvation. Yet verses 8-9 of our passage are a tremendous encouragement. Paul’s hope lay with a God who faithfully saves, preserves and delivers his people until the end. He is able to keep his people and has promised to do so. Christianity is a relationship, and we have been called into fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. This is an eternal relationship. Those who trust in Christ as their Lord and Saviour will be forgiven and kept ‘strong to the end’ and ‘blameless’ on that last day when we will enter eternal and unhindered fellowship with Jesus. We often base our assurance of faith on recent performance and feelings, but we should base it on a faithful God. One who faithfully forgives those who call on him and faithfully provides all that we need to wait until the Lord’s return. Our salvation is secure because it is guaranteed by a faithful God.

Matthew Magee

Luke 4:14-30 The Messiah rejected

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The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah for centuries.  When he finally came, we would expect them to recognise him and flock to him.  At times Jesus did have a large following, but in the end, the general response was rejection, especially on the part of the religious leaders (see John 1:11).  We have an example of this rejection in the synagogue in Nazareth.  We turn now to consider Luke 4:14-30 The Messiah rejected.

1. Early acceptance

A considerable period elapses between v13 and v14, perhaps as much as a year, with events such as John 1:19-4:42 fitting into this time.  Each Gospel writer selected and arranged events for particular purposes, as the Holy Spirit guided them (see 2 Peter 1:21).  The crucial statement is v14 – Jesus returns ‘in the power of the Spirit’, following on from his baptism and temptation.  Though much remains mysterious to us, we know Jesus was fully equipped by the Spirit for his ministry.  To begin with, as he became known, ‘everyone praised him’ (v14-15).  Initially there was a period of acceptance, even popularity, as people try to understand who he is.  Note ‘All spoke well of him’ (v22), but the response is temporary.

2. Present fulfilment

Synagogue attendance was part of Jesus’ life (v16).  The synagogue was mainly a lay organisation and someone like Jesus could be asked to bring a message to the congregation.  He reads Isaiah 61:1-2, a passage of great importance for his understanding of his mission.  Isaiah’s words, given by the Lord, are programmatic for the Messiah’s ministry.  Note:

            (i). Who: ‘he has anointed me’ (v18) – it is the Lord’s doing (Isaiah 61:1).  The Messiah is ‘the Anointed One’, anointed not with oil but with the Holy Spirit.  The sovereign Lord has brought history to this moment.

            (ii). What: the Messiah’s work is ‘to preach good news to the poor’ – to those who realise their spiritual poverty.  Those imprisoned by sin will be freed.  All the forces that oppress and destroy life will be defeated.  The ‘year of the Lord’s favour’ is the fulfilment of the Jubilee Year in the OT.  The Messiah will give new life, the blessings of God’s covenant.

            (iii). When: the crucial statement is in v21 ‘today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’.  The prophetic vision is already being fulfilled, with the exception of ‘the day of vengeance of our God’, which is still to come.  The Messiah brings salvation: their response?

3. Violent hostility

The initial response seems favourable (v22) but Jesus knows their hearts are unmoved.  He is challenged to repeat his miracles elsewhere.  He will not be accepted in his home town, and Jesus responds with examples of Gentiles in the OT who did believe.  His hearers are furious (v28) and try to kill him, but he escapes miraculously, and it seems he never returned.  It is a serious mistake to reject the God-given Messiah who is our only hope of salvation.

Luke 4:1-13 The battle in the wilderness

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Often in life a ‘high point’ – a success, a time of joy – is followed by a time of trial, a ‘low point’ when we struggle, doubt or question.  We may think at such times that we are the only one to have such an experience, but that is not the case.  We see this clearly in the experience of Jesus.  We turn now to consider Luke 4:1-13 The battle in the wilderness.

1. The necessary preparation

The encounter here is no accident – what happens ‘in the wilderness’ (v1) is planned by God.  Note Jesus is ‘led by the Spirit’ – al is in the hands of a sovereign God.  Jesus confronts Satan – he goes into the wilderness to do battle, and he goes at the divine initiative.  The wilderness is a place of hardship and testing – as it was for Israel, when the Lord ‘tested them’ at Marah (Exodus 15:25).  It is now the place of testing for the Messiah.  After the high point at the Jordan, his commitment is now tested – will he walk the hard path assigned in God’s decree and how will he use the Spirit’s power?  The devil comes and tempts him – these are real temptations, he ‘suffered when he was tempted’ (Hebrews 2:18), but as a result he ‘is able to help those who are being tempted’.  The Holy Spirit is crucial – ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ (v1).

2. The triple assault

As he is ‘tempted by the devil’ (v2) Jesus is still acting as the representative of his people.  Our first representative, Adam, gave way to temptation and plunged his descendants into sin (1 Corinthians 15:22).  Jesus is ‘the last Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45) and he will stand where Adam fell, and the benefits will flow to all who are ‘in him’ by faith.  How could a sinless saviour be tempted?  It is perhaps best to see the temptations as being to attain a good end through wrong means, in particular avoiding the cross.  Note:

            (i). ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread’ (v3).  He is to prove his identity with a miracle for his own benefit, but he ‘came to serve’ (Mark 10:45), and answers with Deuteronomy 8:3.  The Word is his weapon and obedience his delight.

            (ii). ‘all the kingdoms of the world’ (v5).  Satan could offer only the allegiance of sinful men.  Jesus will not accept the offer – salvation for sinners comes only through the cross and his is a righteous kingdom.  He answers with Deuteronomy 6:13, the path he walks.

            (iii). ‘throw yourself down from here’ (v10).  The devil quotes part of Psalm 91:11-12, suggesting one spectacular test of God’s promise.  Jesus will instead walk the road of daily trust in his Father, and he quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 in answer to the devil.

3. The ongoing warfare

The Messiah was victorious, but ‘the devil…left him until an opportune time’ (v13) – the battle will continue throughout his ministry, but with the same outcome.  We too are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10ff), but we share in the victory of Christ by faith, and ‘he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18).  He won the victory for us.