Friday, September 23, 2016

23 September 2016
They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region. Luke 4:36-37 (NRSV)

            Good afternoon, welcome. Today Luke takes us to Capernaum, a town on the northern shore of The Sea of Galilee. Here, in a synagogue on a Sabbath, Jesus begins to deliver on the promises He made in Nazareth, demonstrating authority in His teaching and power in His deeds.
            We’ve seen the teaching authority before, over in Matthew. Jesus isn’t merely quoting other rabbis’ opinions. He is delivering the absolute truth of Kingdom living, straight from the King himself. The people may not recognize who He is, but they know something about Him is different. But Jesus doesn’t just teach with authority. In a clear demonstration of power He exorcises a demon-a demon who definitely knew who Jesus was, even if the rest did not.
            This incident raises a few questions. Why was a man possessed by a demon in the synagogue in the first place? When the demon recognizes Jesus, why does Jesus command him to be silent? Why the shift from ‘us’ to ‘I’? Jesus, in demonstrating the Kingdom of God, is following the Father’s plan. There are no coincidences in the Gospels. What is there is there for a reason. The demon-possessed man was in the synagogue because the Father wanted him there (in John’s Gospel Jesus comes across a man born blind for the same reason). He was there to demonstrate Jesus’ absolute power, proving Jesus capable of the release, restoration, freedom from oppression He promised. The Lord’s favor has come indeed. Keep this thought in mind; we will see it again.
            A tougher question is why Jesus repeatedly silences demons who recognize-and testify to-who He is. Many commentators agree Jesus simply did not want demonic testimony. The demons knew who Jesus was and had no choice but to obey Him. Jesus is demonstrating total authority here; this is total dominance. Not just over this demon either-over all demons, every evil. This was Jesus saying I alone have authority here. The demons know who I am-they obey because they have no choice. They fear my authority. But you have no need to fear me. This is what the Kingdom of God looks like. This is for you. You have a choice. See and believe.
            So how do we apply this today? Are we to go around looking for demons to cast out? Probably not. Casting out demons requires a level of spiritual authority few of us would possess (see, for example, Acts 19:13-17). But consider this. God had a plan for Jesus which Jesus followed. In John’s Gospel He would tell the Pharisees He does nothing on His own but only what He sees the Father doing (Jn 5:19-20). How many times have you heard someone say ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life’? Well, I don’t believe God has every minute of every hour of every day planned out. But I do believe He has a plan, and the people who come and go in our lives are there for a reason, just like the demon-possessed man was in the Capernaum synagogue for a reason.
            Here is the application-pay attention to who comes and goes in your life over the weekend. Now, to do this you must have some situational awareness-you cannot be sleepwalking (or daydreaming), as the mindfulness people say. Lest you think mindfulness is just another New Age trick-or worse-let me say the point is simply to cultivate an awareness of what is going on around us (or who is going on around us) in the present moment. After all, we cannot connect with God if we are worrying about what to make for dinner or where to go tomorrow or whether or not to buy this or that thing we probably don’t need anyway. I guess we could say ‘Godfulness’ instead of mindfulness (or practicing His presence-remember that?). The point is to be able to recognize when people are sent to us, and why. Take some time before you go to bed and review the day.  Did you miss anyone? This will help you do better tomorrow.
            We will probably come back to this whole plan thing again. And again. It has to do with what I will call “Personal Interactive Connectedness”. Here we are relating, interacting and connecting to one another on a personal, face to face level. Today we have more opportunities than ever before to connect with one another. Yet for all our connectedness we have forgotten how to relate to each other. Our model is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By the way, the Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in Luke and Acts. So take some PIP time over the weekend and let the Spirit connect you with God, and with each other. See where that leads you.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. JRG


No comments:

Post a Comment