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Compassionate Authority

Sermon Date:February 23, 2020

Sermon Topics:Luke 4:31-44

Author:Allen Burns

Compassionate Authority

We all have authority in our lives. We have authority with property ownership. There is an authority within the family. Workplaces have authorities. The government of a country is the authority structure over a geographical area. God establishes authority within the church.

Authority extends beyond the physical realm. There are authorities that we do not see. There exists rulers, powers, forces of darkness, and forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

In the fall, which takes place in the Garden of Eden, the authority of God is undermined. Satan leads a rebellion against God, deciding that he will not place himself under the authority of God. He seeks to usurp God’s authority. Satan creates a second kingdom, a kingdom of darkness.

Satan ignores the God-ordained husband-authority of Adam and goes behind Adam’s back to tempt Eve. Satan’s ultimate goal is to have Adam and Eve rebel against God’s authority, and he succeeds.

Ever since that fateful day, Satan, and his fallen angels, work to deceive and tempt all people to rebel against God. All of Adam’s descendants, because of their inherent sin nature, walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). 

God’s solution is to send His Son, Jesus, as Savior. Jesus overcomes this world and the rebellious authority and saves people. Jesus rescues us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13).

Luke’s gospel is about the authority of Jesus. The subject of authority is found in almost every verse of the passage describing Jesus’ ministry in Capernaum.

Message of Authority

Jesus leaves Nazareth and travels to Capernaum. Walking from Nazareth to Capernaum is about a 10-hour journey. Luke says He travels down to Capernaum. Nazareth is 1145 feet above sea level, while Capernaum is 682 feet below sea level. Traveling from Nazareth to Capernaum is a downhill journey with an elevation change of 1800 feet.

Capernaum is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is the lowest elevation freshwater lake in the world. Capernaum is a fishing village that is the hometown of Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.

Jesus is teaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue, and the people are amazed at how Jesus teaches with authority. When we consider someone an authority on a subject, we consider them to be an expert. Jesus demonstrates an expert understanding of theology.

We often quote theologians. We might quote Piper, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, or Luther. When we do, we borrow the authority of established experts. The scribes of Jesus’ day are known for continually quoting other teachers. But, unlike the scribes of His time, Jesus doesn’t supplement His teaching by quoting others. He is the authority. Jesus teaches as one who knows the mind of God and confidently declares truth.

There are numerous examples of Jesus teaching with authority in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus starts with, “you have heard it said …, but I say to you …”. Jesus uses the phrase, “I say to you” 13 times in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount (5:18, 20, 22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 49; 6:2, 5, 16, 25,29).

The presence of the authority in Jesus’ teaching is strong. He expects those who hear Him be bound by His words. The listeners are amazed at the authority of His message. It is refreshing.

Listen to Jesus

Because Jesus speaks a message of authority, we need to listen to Jesus.

We listen to many different messages. We hear messages about stores and their low-price sales. News media is a message of events of the day. We listen to messages here in this church.

The message of Jesus is of utmost importance. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God. His words are truth, and if we do not heed what He says, then we will find ourselves outside of His kingdom on the last day. Jesus’ message explains the purpose of life and how we may obtain eternal life of joy and peace.

We know when we hear the truth. Jesus speaks the truth. We need to listen to Him just as the people of Capernaum.

Powerful Authority

As Jesus preaches with authority, someone in the synagogue hears but does not like His presence, nor His words. In the synagogue, there is a man who is demon-possessed. The demon loudly cries out, “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

(Note: Because many people have questions about demons, I have a blog post, to address frequently asked questions. https://redbarnchurch.com/demons-answers-to-a-few-questions/)

Imagine the shock of the people in the synagogue. A demon is in their midst. How long has the demon been attending? It’s unlikely that they know about his presence.

The demon seemingly knows more about Jesus than the people in the synagogue. The demon knows Jesus is the Holy Son of God. He knows that Jesus is very powerful. He knows that Jesus has the power to destroy the demon. Jesus’ authority extends beyond His message. Jesus’ authority extends into the spiritual realm; into places and over beings that we know very little about.

Angels are extremely powerful beings. One angel kills 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian army (2 Kings 19:35). Demons are fallen angels, and Satan is a demon. We can assume demons, as fallen angels, also have great power. We see in the temptation account that Satan is very crafty and has unique powers.

The powerful demon knows one thing. Jesus is more powerful. The people in the synagogue cannot overpower a demon, but Jesus can, and the demon knows it full well. The demon is in great fear. He knows the Messiah is come to defeat Satan and the demons. He fears that it is time for his eternal condemnation.

Fear Jesus Authority

The demons shudder at the presence of Jesus (James 2:19). They know that He is the most powerful force in the universe. Jesus speaks, and the demon must obey. If Jesus says, go to Sheol, the demon must go.

We need to fear Jesus. To fear Jesus is to show Him reverence and awe. He is profoundly awesome.  We are to look at His creation and recognize that all He needs to do is say the word, and we will become as dust. He can send a lightning bolt or a Tsunami wave in our direction.

The demon fears Jesus because Jesus has the power to cast his soul into hell. Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The demon fears Jesus, and we need to fear Jesus as well (a healthy fear).

Spiritual Authority

Jesus rebukes the demon and tells him to be quiet and to come out of the man. The people can praise Jesus, but not the demon. Jesus will not tolerate praise from an evil, rebellious being. Jesus will never tolerate the testimony of his enemies. He doesn’t want to hear them utter any word, no matter how flattering. Jesus will not tolerate hypocrisy from demons or men.

The demon has no choice. He does not harm the man and leaves him immediately.  

Rejoice in Jesus’ sovereign authority

Ever since the Garden of Eden, we struggle against evil forces. We struggle against forces in which we are powerless. We can’t even see them. We all have been deceived and seduced by beings that surround us and are bent on our destruction. No gun or knife will destroy them. We are powerless and they are far too cunning for us to outsmart. We don’t stand a chance.

We should be giving each other high-fives! Jesus speaks, and the spiritual forces of darkness run and take cover. They cower and shudder in His presence. Jesus is the first person in history to speak to a demon, and the demon must obey.

Rejoice! If Jesus is for us, who can be against us!

Amazing Authority

The synagogue is full of amazement. A buzz fills the air as what they have just seen and heard. Jesus teaches with authority. He commands evil spirits to come out, and they do. His words are backed up with an amazing display of power.

People spread the word about Jesus into every locality of Galilee. They watch as Jesus casts out a demon they didn’t even know was in the synagogue.

Be amazed at Jesus’ authority

If we are not amazed at Jesus’ authority over the spiritual realm, then we are not thinking hard enough. Without Jesus, there is no way we can out muscle or outwit a demon. They are in every way a superior creation. Our sinful nature makes us very inferior. Jesus’ authority is shocking.

The people of Capernaum spread the word about the astonishing authority of Jesus. When we are amazed, we tell others. We hear about amazing things all the time. There are amazing restaurants with amazing appetizers. We watch amazing movies. We tell others about amazing sports achievements. The list is long.

When it comes to authority, Jesus is most amazing of all. Some are authorities on subjects. Others are authorities in government. But only Jesus displays authority over the spiritual realm. His authority is something worth talking about. His authority is amazing.

Physical Authority

Things get even better. Jesus leaves the synagogue, and they travel to Simon’s home. Simon is a successful fisherman in a busy fishing port, so we might imagine his house to be one of the nicer ones in Capernaum.

Apparently, not everyone is at synagogue. Simon’s mother-in-law stays home because she suffers from a high fever. Jesus is asked to help. He stands over her and rebukes the fever. The fever leaves. She immediately gets up and waits on them. She is healed in an instant with no lasting effects.

One moment, mom is lying on her back and unable to get up. People are worried and ask Jesus to help. It’s no mild sickness. Jesus rebukes the fever, just as He rebukes a demon, and the fever leaves. The very next moment, she is up and about like nothing happened.

Take comfort in Jesus’ authority

Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. A woman has a fever, and Jesus rebukes the fever. How does He speak to a fever? Jesus speaks to the fever and tells it to leave.

Later, Jesus will rebuke the wind and the sea and tell them to chill out (Mark 4:39).

In one day, Jesus shows authority over the spiritual realm and over the physical realm. A demon and a fever flee at His command. Jesus proves His authority.

We can have great comfort in knowing Jesus has authority over physical things. Jesus can rebuke everything from blindness, leprosy, cancer, and the coronavirus, to volcanoes, blizzards, and mosquitoes.

Jesus is proving His kingship authority over all things. Take comfort in knowing His authority over all other authorities.

Satisfying Authority

The people in the presence of Jesus sees His authority. They do what is natural.

“John, go get grandma and bring her here right away.”

“Jesus, please don’t leave; I am going home to get my sick daughter. I’ll be right back.”

Capernaum has a population of around 1,500 people at the time of Jesus. By the end of the day, there is not one person who is sick. Jesus heals them all. Just as in the synagogue, the demons recognize that He is the Son of God. He casts them out and rebukes them, telling them not to speak.

What we see take place is a dramatic contrast with the events of Nazareth. In Nazareth, Jesus heals no one. In Capernaum, Jesus shows compassion and heals everyone. In Nazareth, the people want to throw Jesus off a cliff. In Capernaum, everyone in the city flocks to Jesus.

Why does Jesus not heal anyone in Nazareth, but heals everyone in Capernaum? Matthew’s gospel says it is because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). The people of Nazareth do not put their faith in Jesus. The people of Capernaum believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Run to Jesus’ authority

The people recognize that Jesus’ authority is good. His authority is satisfying. Jesus’ authority is a treasure worth seeking. He is the only one who may save us. He is kind, loving, and helpful. He understands our needs. He is an authority worthy of us to run to and bow at His feet.

Don’t just stand there. Run to Jesus. As you run, be like the people of Capernaum and bring everyone with you.

Kingdom Authority

As we might imagine, the people of Capernaum do not want Jesus to leave. Jesus goes to a secluded place. The next day, a crowd of people searches Him out. They find Him and then do their very best to convince Him to stay. Jesus lets them know that He cannot stay. His mission is bigger than Capernaum. He will keep on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Jesus reveals His life ministry. He has a purpose. Jesus is sent by another authority, God the Father. God sends Jesus to preach the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is a prominent theme in Luke’s gospel. It is spoken of twice as much as any other gospel. Jesus speaks about His authority in the Kingdom of God.

He proclaims of a time coming when the kingdom of this world will change hands. Right now, the world is living in the domain of darkness. Evil lurks about and sin abounds. People suffer the chains of bondage. Sickness ruins life. Demons possess people and make life miserable. The outcome of this present world kingdom is death.

Jesus is come to declare that His kingdom is coming. His signs and wonders validate His message and give people a taste of the coming kingdom.

Authority: To obey or not obey?

Our passage today clearly talks about Jesus’ authority.

Let’s talk about authority.

Each day we face decisions of whether to obey authorities. As children, we choose whether to obey our parents and teachers. As adults, we become aware of more authorities. There are the fish and game authorities, authorities at our workplace, and Wal-Mart has the authority to decide the shopping hours and the sale price of the items. (Notice how the credit card transaction says “authorized”)

We choose whether to obey the authorities. When we make our life choices, we see ourselves as king on the throne of life. We have the ultimate authority. We have it in our power to obey or disobey the authorities.

There is more to authority than meets the eye. There are authorities we do not see. We think we sit in authority, we think we are in charge. But we are not.

Spiritual Authority

Someone else is in charge. Rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places currently control human destiny (Ephesians 6:12).

Before we have Christ, we are not kings on our throne, but we are pawns living in the domain of darkness. Every unbeliever is a citizen of the domain of darkness.

The highest of human authorities live within the walls of a dark, evil kingdom. Satan deceives and tempts the sinful nature of humans. He, and his cohorts, lead sinful fallen people astray so they are on the road to the ultimate destination of death and condemnation. There is only one way of escape from the darkness.

Trust and Submit to Jesus

There answer to the darkness is Jesus. We need to trust and submit to Jesus and recognize His rightful place of authority. Jesus preaches the kingdom of Heaven and calls everyone to surrender to Him and give Him control over all things. We are to bow to His authority. We are to listen to His commands. His authority satisfies our needs.

Jesus is the King of all kings. He is King over all in hell, and He is King over all who live with Him in heaven. He is King of kings. He is King whether we like it or not.

Jesus is calling all people to humble themselves and confess Him as King. When we put our faith in Christ, we confess Him as Savior because He rescues us from the domain of darkness. And, when we put our faith in Him as a Christian, we confess that He is Lord.

Jesus is a good King. When we put our faith in Him as Savior and Lord, He promises never to leave us or forsake us. We become aliens of this world because we belong to His kingdom. His Spirit helps us to become good citizens in His kingdom so we may find joy.

His Spirit and authoritative word help us see how His authority is to permeate our life. Jesus is to be King of our home. He is the King over our job performance. King of our driving habits. King of the words on our tongue. Each day of being a Christian is a day of submitting to the authority of Jesus.

Jesus is my King. I trust Him. He is good. His laws are righteous and just, and His judgments are fair. His economic policies give riches to the poor. His health program offers everlasting life. His social program cares for the widow and the orphan. He offers protection from my enemies.

Be assured in the authority of Jesus

Is there anyone other than Jesus we would rather submit to? We can trust Jesus. He proves He is good and loving on the day He bleeds and dies to save us from our sin. Jesus proves His authority over death when He walks out of the grave. Nothing has authority over Him.

Be assured, knowing Jesus has authority over all things. There is no better news which can give us greater comfort.