By Andrew E. Courtis
The power to give orders, influence others, or require obedience is to have authority. Authority comes in varying levels. There are some things we don’t have authority over and there are some things we don’t have the ability to authorize. Depending on who we are and what we do, we will have a certain level of authority, and there will be those who will have authority over us. For this reason, I can’t have the authority of a king, president, or prime minister if that is not my role. And if a person in that role is removed from their position, then they lose their authority. Authority is also something that can be horribly abused and in contrast there have been many who have used their authority well and effectively.
We can think of many examples of people who have great authority, but not one of them can match the authority of Jesus Christ. He has great authority, but His authority comes from the fact that He is the Son of God. By nature He is authoritative. He cannot lose His authority and He will never abuse His authority. There is an immeasurable greatness to Christ’s power (Eph. 1:19) and He is “above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:21). Jesus Himself said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). Jesus gave evidence of this authority throughout His earthly life and ministry.
In this passage we will consider three areas where Jesus displayed great authority. This passage begins on the Sabbath morning with Jesus teaching and preaching in the synagogue. A demon-possessed man in the synagogue interrupts Him and Jesus delivers the man of the demon. He then leaves the synagogue and goes to Peter’s house. It is there He was asked to heal Peter’s sick mother-in-law and He does. As the sun was setting, those with diseases and demons came to Him for deliverance and He healed them. This is a glimpse into a day in the life of Jesus. The passage ends with Jesus having some private time praying in the morning, and then the people wanting Him to stay seek Him out. He tells them that this is not according to His purpose and He continues preaching in a number of synagogues in Judea.
This is a busy passage, but at the center of all the activity is the truth that Jesus Christ alone has the authority to free us from captivity and bring us into His Kingdom of light. In this message we will see three areas He displayed His authority: His authority in declaration, His authority over the demonic, and His authority over disease.
1. HIS AUTHORITY IN DECLARATION
After leaving His hometown Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum in Galilee. It was the Sabbath day and Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. After hearing Him teach the people “were astonished at his teaching” (4:32). The reason the people reacted this way was because the preaching of Jesus had authority. This was very different to the religious leaders of that day. Their teaching and preaching was primarily constructed from tradition. Arguments were based on what other Rabbis had said. Their teaching also was very legalistic being filled with rules and regulations that were not from Scripture. This kind of preaching appeals to many people, but it leaves them in bondage and has no power.
When Jesus arrives on the scene He did not base His preaching on tradition, populism, or on personal experience. As stated in the last message, the preaching of Jesus was marked with power, plainness, and precision. He taught exactly what the Word of God said in a way that people could understand. His message was clear, convictional, and compelling.
Today, there are many whose preaching is focused on their own opinions, on politics, on past traditions, and the list goes on. They may have a following or they may even get lots of laughs from what they have to say. But their preaching is not authoritative because it is not based on the Word of God. Biblical preaching is proclaiming what God has said in a plain and precise way. This was the priority of Jesus’ ministry (cf. 4:43-44), and He did this with authority.
So these opening verses present Jesus as the One who speaks with authority. He speaks with authority because He is the Son of God. He speaks with authority because His message is what the Word of God says. He is worth listening to because His message is powerful.
2. HIS AUTHORITY OVER THE DEMONIC (4:33-37)
As Jesus was in the synagogue there arose an unusual response. This brings us to the second area where Christ’s authority extends. While the people were sitting there listening to Jesus teach, there is a distracting disturbance from a man in the congregation. Luke records,
“there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘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’” (4:33-34).
Many people say all sorts of things on the topic of demon possession today. This is a very sensitive topic, and we need to be careful that we don’t overemphasize it and that we don’t understate it. It is important to know that the majority of the demonic possession occurrences in the Bible happen during the earthly ministry of Jesus. In-fact, there are only two occurrences in all of the Old Testament (1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Kings 22:22) and two in the book of Acts (Acts 16:16 and 19:13). Why so few throughout the Bible and so many in the Gospels? The reason for this is that the presence and preaching of Jesus attracted greater opposition than anyone had ever faced, or ever will face. This is not to say that they are not at work today, they certainty are. But what happened here was heightened due to the presence of Jesus.
Wherever there will be faithful teaching of God’s Word, there will be opposition from the Evil One. Notice that Jesus didn’t do anything that was bizarre or boastful, instead He rebuked this demon boldly and briefly. He simply said, “‘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” (3:35). To this remarkable sight, the people responded with amazement and noted the great authority that Jesus had (3:36).
The Bible teaches us that Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and that the unbelieving world lies under his sway (1 John 5:19). Those that have not found forgiveness in Jesus Christ are held captive in Satan’s kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13). But the Son of God came into this world “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He with His Divine authority breaks into this dark kingdom and sets captives free.
This second scene teaches us that Jesus has the authority to deliver a sinner from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. People try to escape from the bondage of darkness (though they may not realize they are in bondage) by trying to seek pleasure in all sorts of things, but this is useless. Only Jesus Christ can release us from the bondage of darkness.
3. HIS AUTHORITY OVER DISEASE
Now what had just happened at the synagogue was no small thing. This certainty captured the attention of all who were there. It was an eventful moment! After He leaves the synagogue, Jesus goes to Simon Peter’s house. One would assume that this would be a time of quite and relaxing fellowship over food and perhaps some more teaching. This brings us to the third area where Christ’s authority extends. Luke tells us that “Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf” (4:38). It is interesting that Matthew and Mark make mention of her fever, but only Luke calls it “a high fever”. This is no doubt is his medical touch. Jesus approaches, then standing over her rebukes this illness “and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them” (4:39). With authority Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. This was instant and entire healing!
The idea of being healed of bodily affliction is certainly very appealing to us. The debilitating effects of sickness and disease can truly be difficult and very sad for many. There are many self-styled individuals roaming around today making the claim that they are “faith healers”. The Bible contains many examples of miraculous healing. It is seen in practice by some of the Old Testament prophets, by Jesus, and by the apostles. When one examines all the data, it becomes clear that there were certain common characteristics that all of these examples share.
When healing took place in the examples provided by Scripture, the healing of the individual was immediate (Matt. 8:13; Mark 5:29; Luke 17:14; Acts 3:7-8; 14:8-10, 19-20; 20:9-12). The individuals did not have to recover or recuperate. The powerful nature of biblical examples of healing was that it was immediate.
The second important characteristic of healing as found in Scripture was that it was exceptional. That is to say, you don’t read of the healing of things like back pain, headaches, stress and other like things. No, the examples in Scripture were truly exceptional. You have the dead being raised from the dead, paralytics being healed, withered hands restored, sight to the blind, just to state some examples.
A third characteristic was that biblical healing was entire. That is to say, when biblical healings took place, they actually brought healing in entirety. If sight was granted, the individual could see. If a paralytic was healed he could actually walk. It was not a slight healing it was an entire healing, and this is what made so many people marvel.
Without a doubt, the greatest Biblical demonstration of the ability to heal was none other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. The healing ministry of Jesus Christ is unparalleled in all of history. The methods He used to heal were not always the same as He employed a variety of approaches. He healed by touch (Matt. 8:15; 20:34; Luke 13:13), speech (Matt. 9:6-7; Mark 10:52; John 5:8-9), through His garment (Matt. 9:20-22; 14:36; Luke 8:44), by His saliva (Mark 8:22-26) and with clay (John 9:6). One thing becomes clear when you read the gospel accounts – all His miracles were undeniable. This is demonstrated by the acceptance of these miracles, even by His enemies (John 9). Furthermore, many “faith healers” today claim that if people are not being healed it is because they don’t have enough faith. That is just a convenient excuse for their lack of “gifting”. When Jesus healed, some of those individuals were not even believers (Matt. 8:1-4; Luke 17:11-19; John 5:1-9). Furthermore, when He raised the dead to life, those individuals were unable to employ faith.
There are those today who make claims that God wants you to be healed of all your illness and diseases. To make a claim that God wants all His people to receive healing from their all their sicknesses, diseases, and disabilities in this life completely misses the point of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. In-fact, this is not only unbiblical, it is a disturbing and damaging belief. By means of these signs, Jesus was verifying that He is the Son of God, and that He has authority over disease.
In addition to healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, we are told that at the end of the day at the setting of the sun, those with diseases and those possessed by demons were brought to Him. Jesus healed each and everyone one of them.
What do we learn from this final scene? This teaches us that Jesus has the authority to deliver us from our fallen body, and will one day grant us a brand new glorified body. In His future and eternal kingdom, there will be no more sickness and disease (Rev. 21:4).
That was a big and busy day in the life of Jesus. We are told that the next day “he departed and went into a desolate place” (4:42). According to Mark, He was using this time to pray and it was still dark (Mark 1:35). The quietness didn’t last long. The people sought Him and tried to convince Him to stay in their town. Jesus then told them why He couldn’t do this. He is on a mission and His priory is not to go about healing. These were signs of something greater. His priority was to proclaim and spread good news. He said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (4:43). This is the first of many references to the kingdom of God in Luke. What is the Kingdom of God? Jim Hamilton notes, “God’s kingdom consists of God’s rule over God’s people in God’s place”. The Kingdom of God is both present and future. Right now, God rules as King in the lives of His people, and in the future, He will rule as King in the new heaven and new earth, and His glory will be seen everywhere. Jesus alone has the authority to bring us into this Kingdom. We become citizens by realising our emptiness and cling to Him for life and salvation.