Monday, February 1, 2010

His Word has Authority

Fourth Sunday in Epiphany
Luke 4:31-44
Bror Erickson
[31] And he 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. Luke 4:31-44 (ESV)

“And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority…. 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 came out!”

Jesus’ word it has authority. What is this word? They asked. This is Jesus, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God, this is the word that was spoken in the beginning and there was light. Yes this Word has authority, more so it has power. It accomplishes what it says, says what it does.

I suppose we all often speculate what it would have been like to be with Jesus to walk and talk with him. I read this story and wanted to know what it would have been like to see these demons being thrown out in the midst of a crowd. I wonder what it would have been like to see Him rebuking a fever, and watching it leave.

Jesus didn’t just sit around and give abstract discourses on the law of God and trying to find loopholes in it so people could put their consciences at peace. That is what we do. We laugh at ambulance chasers, but we all play lawyer in our heart. “Well it wasn’t so bad, other people do it. The Bible doesn’t really mean that, but it is talking about this instead.” Hey, I do that at times. The law tries to prosecute, and we try to defend. But there is no defense, no excuse. We are guilty. We break the law, even when we try to find loopholes in it. For instance when we feign not to judge others, only so we won’t be judged by the same stick with which we judge them. And yet in it all we fail, fail bitterly to warn people against sin and its harmful effects in life. Jesus word isn’t like that.
Jesus spoke with authority, not only straight to the issue, and right to the point. But he spoke in such a way that He could not be ignored, and people came to believe in him. His word goes out and accomplishes faith. It does. People always think they play some part in all this, but no. We don’t. God’s word goes out, and faith comes from hearing. (Romans 10:10 ff) We hear it, and the Holy Spirit works faith so that we believe it. It is utterly unlike any other word we know. It works, for it is the word that created the world and everything in it. It is powerful.
And it isn’t dead! It isn’t some past word that is no longer with us, but only recorded in the dead print of the Bible. No, Jesus is with us, He ascended into heaven so that He could be here among us. And so He is. And He speaks even today, where His word is spoken, there He speaks, there He brings people to faith. It is His word that instituted Baptism and gives it power to wash sins away and save. It is his word that is spoken over the bread and wine and makes it the body and blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And it is his word I speak whenever you hear “your sins are forgiven” because they are the words He has given me to speak, and far from being so many dead words from the lips of another man, they are His words spoken in His stead and by His command, alive and effectual, these words have power and authority. They do what He says. They forgive your sins.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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