Luke 6:43-45 Being and doing

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Some preaching can leave the hearers discouraged.  The message often seems to be ‘Try harder’, ‘Do more’.  Trying harder and doing more, however, seems to produce little or no spiritual progress.  As Jesus shows in this passage, this approach begins in the wrong place.  We turn now to consider Luke 6:43-45 Being and doing.

1. The root

What is the problem with the ‘Try harder’ message?  It is not entirely wrong – Scripture exhorts us to committed effort in godly living, but this approach begins in the wrong place.  It deals only with ‘bad fruit…good fruit’ – what is outward and visible, but if change is to take place it must begin with the nature of the tree.  That is the reason why the tree bears the fruit it does.  We must first consider the internal, which explains the fruit that is borne.  The nature of the tree is crucial, indeed determinative: ‘People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briars’ (v44).  No matter how hard a briar tried, it could not produce grapes.  The lesson relates to people – ‘The good man…the evil man’ (v45).  What we do flows from who we are – the fundamental issue is the nature we possess.  Jesus sums it up in the language of the heart – ‘The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart’ (v45).  The good man is not good because he does good: he does good because he is good.  The Lord is concerned first with who we are.  The ‘heart’ in Scripture is the core of our identity.  ‘The good man’ is regenerate, being remade in Christ’s image; ‘the evil man is still a sinner under God’s wrath.  There are only two ‘hearts’ in biblical thinking.

2. The fruit

Although the Lord’s first concern is with who we are – the issue of the heart – he is also concerned with what we do – the issue of fruit.  The fruit a person bears is the result of the nature possessed (v45).  There is a fundamental consistency between root and fruit, heart and behaviour.  What kind of fruit would we expect from a ‘good man’?  We can at once think of ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22-23), a description of the character of Jesus.  From a heart renewed by grace will come a life that reflects the Saviour and is shaped by his Word applied by the Holy Spirit.  In contrast, from an ‘evil man’ we would expect the ‘acts of the flesh’ (Galatians 5:19-21), a lifestyle governed by the fallen sinful nature.  In both cases, every aspect of life is involved.  Often words reveal the reality – ‘’Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ – a reminder of the power of the tongue (James 3:1ff).  Believers are imperfect in this life and we can be inconsistent, but there will be no final contradiction between root and fruit when we appear in the Last Judgment.

3. The examination

The NIV misses ‘For’ at the beginning of v43 – there is a link to v41-42 regarding planks and specks.  The Lord calls us to self-examination, instead of examination of others. What kind of tree are you, bearing what kind of fruit?  Note ‘stored up’ (v45) – we must store our hearts with God’s Word, from which a godly life will come.  Change in a man’s nature is also always possible by the grace of God, making him a new creation in Christ.

Luke 6:37-42 Getting a clear view

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Some people are good at pointing out the faults of others.  Christians may appeal to Scripture as a ground for doing this.  But often such people have very little perception of their own faults and may resent anyone who points them out.  What does the Lord have to say about this?  We turn now to consider Luke 6:37-42 Getting a clear view.

1. Sinful judging

Jesus continues to expound the kind of open-hearted, merciful lifestyle that should characterise disciples: ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged’ (v37).  How is this consistent with passages that expect Christians to exercise their critical faculties?  In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul commands the church to deal with immorality and asks, ‘Are you not to judge those inside?’ (v12).  Note also Galatians 1:6-9.  These are cases of the church (especially leaders) exercising biblical discernment, together with corrective discipline.  In Luke 6:37ff Jesus deals with interpersonal relationships and forbids unjust or hypocritical judging of others that involves a critical and self-righteous spirit – a fault-finding attitude.  Hence he says, ‘Do not condemn and you will not be condemned’ – we may be condemned by men, but we will ultimately be condemned by God.  By not judging or condemning we show that we have been changed by grace.  ‘Give…’ (v38) requires open-hearted generosity that results in abundant blessing – ‘A good measure, pressed down’.  The principle of God’s dealings with us is ‘with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

2. Wise leadership

The ‘parable’ of v39 about a blind man leading a blind man is puzzling.  The issue is leadership in the spiritual realm.  It is folly for someone lacking spiritual understanding and vision to lead others.  This is especially true of any with responsibilities of leadership in Christ’s church.  So that both do not ‘fall into a pit’ spiritual blindness must be addressed so that the leader will be like his teacher, Christ.  He is to be ‘fully trained’ (v40) – like the nets of Mark 1:19, ready for fruitful work.  First, sin must be dealt with, removing the cause of spiritual blindness.  That fits the context of what follows in v41-42.  When forgiveness is received, the barrier of sin is taken away.  Then we are ‘fully trained’, ready for service, like our teacher.  That is to be the desire of every disciple.

3. Blatant hypocrisy

In v41-42 Jesus continues his instruction concerning clear sightedness regarding our own sins and failures.  There is a place in the church for dealing with the faults of members (see Galatians 6:1 ‘restore him gently’), but the danger of hypocrisy is real.  Jesus uses hyperbole – exaggerated, not literal, language to drive home his point.  The language of ‘speck…plank’ (v41) is vivid, with an element of humour to teach a serious lesson.  A believer offers ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ (v42), possibly well-motivated, but ‘you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye’ – ignoring one’s own greater sins and failings.  Our concern should first be our own sins, lest we be hypocrites.  We seek God’s grace in forgiveness, then in love ‘you will see clearly’.  It is a call to Spirit-led self-assessment and repentance.

Luke 6:27-36 Radical Love

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If someone disrespects us, slanders us, ill-treats us or even attacks us, our first reaction may well be to strike back, to repay in kind, perhaps to exceed the original offence.  Individuals and communities can be driven by the desire for revenge for wrongs suffered, real or imaginary.  Jesus shows that the attitude of a disciple is radically different.  We turn now to consider Luke 6:27-36 Radical love.

1. Loving enemies

The teaching many of Jesus’ hearers had received was ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’ (see Matthew 5:43) – attractive in an occupied country.  Jesus’ command is therefore radical – ‘Love your enemies’ (v27).  He reinforces the point – ‘do good to those who hate you,’ (v27-28).  Disciples are not only to refrain from harming – they are to do positive good.  This requires a mindset shaped by the grace of God.  In the context of abuse suffered because of the Son of Man’ (v22), in view chiefly is persecution for Jesus’ sake.  The response of believers to the world’s hatred is to be ‘Love your enemies’.  It can also be applied in a secondary sense to personal enemies.  By grace the Christian is to ‘Love…do good…bless…pray’.  Do we take literally turning the other cheek (v27) or giving to whoever asks (v30)?  Will we not then be impoverished and exploited?  These are best seen as examples of Jesus’ vivid dramatic statements often used in teaching.  Jesus is requiring a generous spirit, a readiness to forgive, not a willingness to be abused or exploited.

2. Excelling sinners

In v32ff the Lord draws a stark contrast between the outlook of ‘sinners’ and of disciples.  Disciples are not to lose their distinctiveness or adopt the attitudes or lifestyle of sinners.  The crucial test is the kind of love they show.  Note v32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Disciples are to go beyond the love that the world shows.  The same applies to ‘do good…lend’ (v33-34) – it is insufficient to calculate the likelihood of repayment or to respond merely to good received.  Jesus drives the lesson home in v35 – the disciple is to show love that has its focus on the good of the recipient, love to the unlovely and unworthy (v35).  This needs Spirit-given wisdom.  It is crucial to discipleship and provides a powerful witness to a world which operates on different principles.  When Christians are hated by the world, the challenge is especially great (see John 15:19).

3. Imitating God

A disciple never loses by obeying these commands.  In earthly terms he may be exploited, taken for a fool, etc, but in spiritual terms, ‘your reward will be great’ (v35).  The ultimate reward will be received at the Lord’s return – Matthew 25:34.  Rewards are a gift of God’s grace.    Also ‘you will be sons of the Most High’ – love demonstrates that we are sons.  We imitate our Father, manifesting the family likeness.  Note ‘he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked’.  True disciples will increasingly look like the Lord – ‘Be merciful just as your Father is merciful’ (v36).  Mercy is seen supremely in the Messiah who speaks these words.  ‘Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love’ (Ephesians 5:1).

Luke 6:17-26 Preaching on the plain

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Every preacher repeats himself.  In the course of a faithful ministry there are great issues that need to be treated often, especially the fundamentals of salvation and the path of discipleship.  We see in the Gospels that Jesus was no exception to that pattern.  We turn now to consider Luke 6:17-26 Preaching on the plain.

1. The ministry Jesus exercised

Jesus has appointed twelve ‘whom he designated apostles’ (v13), even including Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus knew from the outset would betray him.  The apostles are now openly associated with Jesus’ ministry (v17).  The following teaching is often called the Sermon on the Plain – not the same occasion as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  The ministry that Jesus exercises has always 2 elements:

            (i). Word: above all Jesus proclaimed ‘the good news (Mark 1:15).  This word concerns God’s saving work carried out through the Messiah, explaining not only how to enter the Kingdom, but also how to live in it, the theme of v27-49.

            (ii). Deed: people also come ‘to be healed of their diseases’ (v18), and in addition ‘Those troubled by evil spirits were cured’.  Jesus reveals his power over the material and spiritual creation.  The deeds are always supportive of his preaching, authenticating his words.

2. The blessings Jesus promised

Jesus declares certain people to be ‘Blessed’ (‘Truly happy’), which is possible only when living in the Kingdom of God.  These blessings represent a reversal of the world’s outlook – those Jesus pronounces ‘blessed’ are despised by the world.  Those who seek to live according to the Lord’s will must be prepared for the world’s scorn.

            How are we to understand ‘poor…hunger…weep’?  Note ‘because of the Son of Man’ (v22) – these hardships are consequences of discipleship of the Messiah.  Note:

            ‘poor’ – aware of need and trusting in the Lord, they share the bounty of the Kingdom.

            ‘hunger’ – for righteousness – they will ‘be satisfied’, now or in the life to come.

            ‘weep’ – sorrow for sin, theirs and that of others – they will know true joy.

            ‘when men hate you’ – the world is often our enemy, as Jesus knew (John 15:20).

The Lord promises blessing on his people.  They can ‘Rejoice’ (v23) not by denying the hardships but by seeing God’s hand in what they endure.  The reward is finally ‘in heaven’ and they are standing in a tradition of suffering for the Lord’s sake that the prophets endured.

3. The woes Jesus pronounced

Verses 24-26 contrast the world’s values with Kingdom values.  Jesus is not saying that no disciple will ever be rich, etc, but he condemns a life of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.  God is not in the thoughts of these people, much less the centre of life.  This is the life of the ‘natural man’ – like the ‘fool’ (Luke 12:20).  The good things of this life will be left behind and the joy of the Kingdom will never be experienced.  It is a solemn warning.

Revelation 1:5-6 Christ exalted

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For a brief moment at this time of year, many are made aware again of the death and resurrection of Christ.  The attention generally does not last long since Easter cannot be sentimentalised in the way that Christmas can.  Christ crucified and risen, however, is the centre of our Christian faith.  He has risen and is exalted to the highest possible position.  In writing Revelation John was encouraging Christians who faced very hard times.  His focus is on Christ in his triumph and glory. 

1. The position Christ occupies 

In greeting the 7 churches John wishes them ‘Grace and peace’ (v4), a triune blessing.  The focus of attention is then on Christ (v5), in whom all of God’s redemptive purpose and all of history centre.  Note the threefold position he occupies: 

(i)                 ‘the faithful witness’.  He is God’s final word to us (Hebrews 1:2).  He reveals God’s way of salvation and is that way.  He bears utterly faithful witness (John 18:37).

(ii)               ‘the firstborn from the dead’.  Christ is supremely the Risen One, having died and risen again for the salvation of his people.  Without the resurrection there is no salvation (1 Corinthians 15:17).  This event guarantees the work he performed on the cross.  The ‘firstborn’ is the place of supreme honour, not of inferiority.

(iii) ‘the ruler of the kings of the earth.  He wields supreme authority (Matthew 28:18), including authority over all who oppose him.  The Messiah’s reign is God’s response to the rebellion of the nations (Psalm 2). 

2. The salvation Christ provides 

Believers facing persecution need to be reminded of what the Lord has done for them and so John draws attention to the rich gift of salvation.  Three elements are described here: 

(i)                 ‘him who loves us’.  The origin of salvation is the redeeming love of God, a triune love.  Christ loves those chosen in him before creation (Ephesians 1:4, Galatians 2:20).

(ii)               ‘has freed us from our sins by his blood’.  The King sets his people free from the bondage of sin.  We are free because he has taken our sin (1 Peter 2:24).

(iii)      ‘made us to be a kingdom and priests.  Christ, Priest and King, makes us priests and kings.  Already we exercise dominion in Christ (Romans 5:17).  As priests we are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), giving ourselves in whole-hearted service to the Lord. 

3. The honour Christ receives 

These verses are a doxology – ‘to him be glory and power for ever and ever’ (v6).  Glory belongs to God alone (14:7), and so belongs appropriately to Christ.  Doxology acknowledges what he possesses, it cannot add to his glory.  The term ‘glory’ sums up what God is – Christ is ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’ (Hebrews 1:3).  His ‘power’ is infinite, sufficient to fulfil his will.  None of his redeemed people will be lost.  This is the voice of faith – ‘Amen’ means ‘May it be so’ – willing acceptance of his lordship.

Luke 6:1-11 Lord of the Sabbath

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The issue of what is permissible on the Sabbath has divided Christians down through the centuries.  Some hold a more restrictive position, whilst others take a more permissive approach.  Many Christians are confused, with no standard guiding their decisions.  Some fundamental principles are set down by the Lord himself.  We turn now to consider Luke 6:1-11 Lord of the Sabbath.

1. Confrontation in the fields

The issue of the Sabbath is not a trivial matter.  Exodus 20:8 gives the commandment to observe the Sabbath and v11 states ‘the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy’.  The Sabbath is a divine institution, included in the 10 Commandments, so we may not treat it as unimportant, as many Christians do today.  Some have no concept of the Lord’s Day.

            (i). The Pharisees’ question.  ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’ (v2).  The dispute is over ‘pick…rub…eat’ (v1).  The law allowed wayfarers to pick corn by hand (Deuteronomy 23:25), but the Pharisees define Jesus’ actions as reaping, threshing and winnowing grain on the Sabbath.  They again focus on rules, whichthey regard as a means of securing God’s favour.  They are guilty of legalism, thinking rule-keeping is a way of salvation.  They were often also hypocrites, for example loving money (Luke 16:14).

            (ii). The Lord’s response.  Jesus does not provide either more restrictive or more permissive views of the law, but puts the focus on a deeper issue.  He cites the incident recorded in 1 Samuel 21:1ff, when David and his men ate the consecrated bread from the sanctuary – relieving human need was a work of necessity.  Jesus exercises messianic authority as ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ (v5).  He directs how his Sabbath should be kept.

2. Conflict in the synagogue

            (i). The Pharisees’ question.  The question is unspoken yet real.  The man’s disability is serious but not life-threatening – it did not have to be cured on the Sabbath.  They are seeking an opportunity to attack Jesus and discredit him as a law-breaker.  They have no concern for the man and no response of faith to the miracles.  They seek an opportunity to do evil, yet they are supposedly the spiritual leaders of Israel.

            (ii). The Lord’s response.  Jesus ‘knew what they were thinking’ (v8), again revealing his deity.  His response will be as public as possible – ‘stand in front of everyone’ – there will be no doubt about the miracle.  Jesus answers the Pharisees’ unspoken question with his own spoken one – ‘which is lawful on the Sabbath…?’ (v9).  None dares respond.  The answer to the question is clear and indeed made visible – his hand was completely restored’ (v10).  With divine power he provides a messianic sign of life restored, a token of the transforming power of God’s grace at work in and through Jesus.  The miracle also indicates the proper use of the Sabbath.  Note ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matthew 12:7, while in the fields).  The Sabbath is a day for works of mercy (as well as necessity) – as stated in Shorter catechism Q60.  This reflects the heart of God himself.

Luke 5:33-39 The Bridegroom is here

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To many people religion is a matter of keeping rules and performing rituals.  They many in the estimation of others be very religious people – that may be their own view too.  When someone presents a different view of religion, treating it as a matter of heart spirituality, not of works and effort, he may be met with considerable hostility, as Jesus was.  We turn now to consider Luke 5:33-39 The Bridegroom is here.

1. Complaint

We again encounter ‘the Pharisees and the teachers of the law’ (v30) in the house of converted Levi.  They now attack Jesus’ style of ministry.  The issue is the observance of set times to ‘fast and pray’ (v33).  The law required fasting only on the Day of Atonement, but some Pharisees fasted ‘twice a week’ (Luke 18:12).  Jesus appeared very lax by comparison.

            (i). John’s disciples.  The issue seems to be their different lifestyle – there is no suggestion that their teaching conflicted at all with faith in the Messiah.  Like John, their lifestyle was apparently ascetic.  There is room for diversity when the gospel is not at stake.

            (ii). The disciples of the Pharisees.  This is a very different case.  They ‘trusted in themselves that they were righteous’ (Luke 18:9).  They put the emphasis on externals, depending on works like prayer and fasting to be right with God.

2. Contrast

Jesus responds using the language of ‘the bridegroom’ (v34), drawing on OT pictures of God married to his people (see Hosea 2:19).  True religion is a living relationship with God through the Messiah who is the source of eternal life.  Regarding fasting, note:

            (i). Present.  The Bridegroom – the Messiah – is present (v34), the Kingdom has come, this is a time for joy, not fasting.  The legalistic fasting of the Pharisees is condemned.

            (ii). Future.  The Bridegroom will ‘be taken from them’ (v35) – at the cross, in fulfilment of God’s plan (Luke 9:22).  That death is the essential climax of his saving work.

3. Conflict

The implications of the Messiah’s presence are spelled out in vivid, down-to-earth terms:

            (i). A new garment.  Old and new cannot be combined.  Jesus does not offer a better version of Pharisaic religion – he brings ‘the new’ – the fulfilment of God’s gracious plan of salvation.  It cannot be combined with legalistic dependence on good works.

            (ii). New wine.  The ‘new wine’ Jesus brings cannot be contained in ‘the old wineskins’ of Pharisaic religion.  The gospel belongs in the ‘new wineskins’ of the church.  Sadly, sinners often prefer the old, depending on their works and resisting the gospel call.

Luke 5:17-26 Healing and forgiveness

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Those who seek to spread the gospel often find that they meet with opposition, misunderstanding or hostility.  This can come even from religious leaders – indeed sometimes they can be the most hostile to telling people they need a Saviour.  This should not surprise us.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus faced constant opposition from religious leaders.  We turn now to consider Luke 5:17-26 Healing and forgiveness.

1. The believing friends

Jesus is teaching in Capernaum (Mark 2:1), possibly in the courtyard of a house roofed with tiles.  Teaching the inerrant Word of God is central to his pre-Calvary ministry.  The impact of Jesus’ ministry is seen in the actions of the men ‘carrying a paralytic on a mat’ (v18) – they are convinced Jesus can heal their friend and will no allow obstacles to prevent their getting him into Jesus’ presence.  Access is barred ‘because of the crowd’ (v19), so they take dramatic steps, removing some tiles from the flat roof and ‘lowered him on his mat…right in front of Jesus’.  Their actions testify to their faith – they believe Jesus can address the man’s need.  Note ‘their faith’ (v20) includes the paralysed man.  Faith does not earn blessing but opens the heart to God’s working and is itself God’s gift.

2. The critical Pharisees

Jesus’ impact is also evident in the hostility of the religious experts, ‘Pharisees and teachers of the law’ (v17), apparently investigating Jesus’ actions and teaching.  John called them ‘You brood of vipers’ (Matthew 3:7).  Their attitude to the law is crucial:

            They added to God’s law layers of their own traditions (Mark 7:9)

            They externalised God’s law, keeping the outward details but neglecting love in the heart such as God required (Deuteronomy 6:5).

            These religious leaders were in fact spiritually blind.  When they witness Jesus’ miracle, their question is both right and wrong – v21 – they know that God alone can forgive sin, but in Jesus God is in fact present among them, but they cannot see that.  Instead of believing on Jesus, they oppose his mission and will eventually bring about his death.

3. The gracious Saviour

            (i). He forgives sin.  ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’ (v20).  Jesus speaks with divine authority as the only one who can forgive sin against God.  It is through faith that forgiveness comes (Acts 16:31).  Dealing with sin is the heart of the Messiah’s work (Ephesians 1:7).

            (ii). He reads thoughts.  ‘Jesus knew what they were thinking’ (v22).  This again is an indicator of his deity (1 Samuel 16:7).  His divine mind conveys facts to his human mind,

            (iii). He heals bodies.  The healing is instantaneous (v25), in response to Jesus’ authoritative command (v24).  The miracle does not just heal the body but is proof ‘that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ (v24) – a sign of salvation.  Bodily healing will be consummated in the resurrection.

Luke 5:1-11 An irresistible call

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If someone offers advice in your area of expertise, it can be hard to accept, especially if the advisor is someone you expect to know nothing about the subject.  We seem to have such a situation when Jesus the carpenter gives advice on fishing to Simon Peter the fisherman.  How will Peter react?  We turn now to consider Luke 5:1-11 An irresistible call.

1. Revelation

As Jesus is ‘standing by the Lake of Gennesaret’ (v1, another name for the sea of Galilee) the crowds press so close that, in order to continue teaching, he must get into a fishing boat and teach from there (v3).  Note the reference to ‘the word of God’ – a phrase closely linked to what we learned last time about Jesus’ authority in teaching:

            It is a word about God – Jesus brings the final perfect revelation about the nature of God and the work of salvation that he will accomplish as Messiah.

            It is a word from God – although his hearers do not understand this, it is God who speaks to them.  John 1:14 states, ‘The Word became flesh’ and Jesus is that incarnate Word.

2. Power

Simon (v4) and several others (v10) are present.  Some had met Jesus before, including Simon (John 1:42), and had got to know him.  Jesus gives Simon instructions (v4) that contradict what he knows as a fisherman – fishing in daylight in deep water, and after a futile night’s effort (v5).  But on account of what he knows of the ‘Master’, Simon obeys, and the result is a miraculous catch.  This is a sign of Jesus’ identity and of the presence in him of divine messianic power over the creation, showing that the King who can transform lives is present.  The ‘kingdom of God’ (4:43) has come in him.

3. Holiness

Peter’s reaction is surprising – ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man’ (v8).  Peter understands (at least in part) that he is in the presence of divine power, having witnessed the work of a holy God (without yet grasping Jesus’ deity).  This God is separate from all created and all sinful things.  Peter has a profound sense of his own sinfulness and unworthiness.  As sinners come closer to a holy God, they have a deeper sense of sin (Isaiah 6:5) which is necessary if we are to benefit from the work of Christ.  Conviction of sin is a vital first step towards salvation.  Why seek a Saviour if you have no sense of needing salvation?

4. Authority

Jesus does not dispute Peter’s self-evaluation but at once provides encouragement – ‘Don’t be afraid’ (v10, stop what he has begun to do).  It is the voice of divine grace.  The Lord deals gently and lovingly with Peter and, by implication, the others there.  This is the turning point of Peter’s life; ‘from now on you will catch men’ (v10; literally ‘capture alive’, not like dead fish).  Jesus speaks with absolute authority – it is a call (Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17) that requires immediate obedience (v11).  He calls us to serve him in the same authoritative way.

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.