Chapter 24

 

Lessons from Capernaum

 

“And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about. And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.” (Luke 4:31-44)

 

            When the Jews at Nazareth threw him out of their synagogue and tried to murder him for preaching the gospel, our Lord came down to Capernaum, another Galilean city.

 

Ordained Means

 

            The first thing that stands out in this passage is the fact that gospel preaching is God’s ordained means of grace. This portion of Scripture begins and ends with statements about our Lord Jesus preaching the gospel.

 

“And (the Lord Jesus) came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (vv. 31-32).

 

“And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (vv. 43-44).

 

            Our Savior placed great importance upon the preaching of the gospel. In fact, he said, “I must preach the kingdom of God…for therefore am I sent.” Preaching was his business.

 

I stress this fact because we live in a day in which preaching is belittled, set aside and considered out of date by the religious world. While I readily acknowledge that most preaching is irrelevant, gospel preaching is not. Rather, the preaching of the gospel is the most important aspect of the church’s life and ministry in every age.

 

Ever beware of those who make little of preaching, and of any tendency to set aside the ministry of the Word. The church is never stronger than her pulpit. The church is strong when the pulpit is strong. The church is irrelevant when the pulpit is irrelevant. The preaching of the gospel is God’s ordained means of grace to his people, the means by which he saves, edifies, comforts and directs his people in this world.

 

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:9, 11-16)

 

Look at what Luke tells us about our Lord’s preaching, in Luke 4:31-32, 43-44. Our Savior was a preacher of doctrine. His doctrine was astonishing. He preached “the kingdom of God.” His word fell upon the hearts of men with power. His every word was intentional, weighty, powerful. His gospel came “in demonstration of the Spirit and power.” Let every preacher seek wisdom and grace from God the Holy Spirit to imitate the Master.

 

Demons

 

            Another thing that stands out in this passage and needs to be understood is the fact that Satan, and hell, and demons are real.

 

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about” (vv:33-37).

 

I cannot say much about this, because I know little about it; but I want to be understood. Demonology is not something to play with or ignore. Hell is not a nightmare. It is real. Satan is not the boogie man, but the prince of darkness. Demons are not mythical monsters, but fallen angels. Satan, and hell, and the demons of hell are bent upon the destruction of our souls and the dishonor of our God.

 

I do not mean to suggest that these things are now, or ever can be, out of control. That is not the case. “For this purpose,” the Book tells us, “Christ was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” And he demonstrates his power over hell in this fourth chapter of Luke’s gospel. What does this passage tell us about the devil? — The devil is an unclean spirit. This unclean spirit works evil in the souls of men, just as he did in their bodies during the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry. — Those who are under Satan’s strongest influence are often found in the house of God. — The devils, the demons of hell have nothing to do with Christ (v. 34). — “For, verily, he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”

 

            The Lord Jesus Christ always has the devil under his control (vv. 35-36). When he says to hell, “Hold thy peace,” all hell holds its peace! With authority and power, he commands the unclean spirits.

 

Knowledge and Salvation

 

            Even the demons of hell have faith, doctrinally accurate faith, better faith than most Baptists (They believe and tremble!); but not saving faith. Beware of unsanctified knowledge. It is a dangerous snare by which many are destroyed. Knowledge is not salvation. Head knowledge, without heart experience, is a positive curse.

 

            Spiritual knowledge, gospel knowledge, a saving knowledge of Christ is knowledge accompanied by faith, inspiring hope and producing love.

 

            We must never be content with knowing Bible facts, Bible history, Bible “trivia,” or even Bible doctrine. Salvation is knowing God as he has revealed himself in the person and work of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

 

            Here are some questions worth considering: — Does my knowledge of sin make me hate it? — Does my knowledge of Christ cause me to trust him, love him and honor him? — Does my knowledge of God’s will cause me to seek, in all things, to obey it? — Does my knowledge of doctrine make me useful to others? — Does my knowledge of grace make me gracious? If the knowledge I have does not move my heart heavenward and does not make Christ precious to me, my knowledge is useless knowledge that will only add to my condemnation in hell.

 

A Mighty Savior

 

            Learn this and rejoice — The Lord Jesus Christ is a mighty Savior.

 

“And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them” (vv. 38-42).

 

            Demons and disease alike flee before the word of his power. By the touch of his hand the fever is removed and the fainting body is made strong. J. C. Ryle rightly observed…

 

“We see sicknesses and devils alike yielding to His command. He rebukes unclean spirits, and they come forth from the unhappy people whom they had possessed. He rebukes a fever, and lays his hands on sick people, and at once their diseases depart, and the sick are healed.

 

We cannot fail to observe many similar cases in the four Gospels. They occur so frequently that we are apt to read them with a thoughtless eye, and forget the mighty lesson which each one is meant to convey. They are all intended to fasten in our minds the great truth that Christ is the appointed Healer of every evil which sin has brought into the world. Christ is the true antidote and remedy for all the soul-ruining mischief which Satan has wrought on mankind. Christ is the universal physician to whom all the children of Adam must repair, if they would be made whole. In Him is life, and health, and liberty. This is the grand doctrine which every miracle of mercy in the Gospel is ordained and appointed to teach. Each is a plain witness to that mighty fact, which lies at the very foundation of the Gospel. The ability of Christ to supply to the uttermost every need of human nature is the very corner-stone of Christianity. Christ, in one word, is ‘all.’”

 

            Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Antidote for the old serpent’s poison. He is the remedy for our ruin. He is the Physician for our sin-sick souls. He is our Life, our Health and our Liberty. Our Lord Jesus Christ is an able, almighty, omnipotent Savior. — “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

 

            Our blessed Savior still enters the strong man’s house, binds him, casts him out, and takes possession of the house. It is still true that all upon whom he lays his hands, all to whom he speaks in saving power, are healed by him, immediately. And all who are healed by Christ gladly serve him and his people (v. 39).

 

            When the day of grace dawns upon redeemed sinners, all who have known his saving power, tasted his grace and experienced his mercy, still lay hold of him, stay him, and plead with him ever to abide with them (v. 42). Spirit of God, cause us to “stay” him, that he may not depart from us!

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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