Capernaum, like Nazareth is a real place. The remains of the synagogue where Jesus taught are still visible. Today we’re going to think about the fact that Jesus was; one with authority, one with a purpose and one with a prayer life. The passage can be read here.
We shouldn’t be surprised that there was a rise in incidents involving evil spirits coinciding with Jesus’ ministry. Satan is opposed to God and so was inevitably going to oppose Jesus. What amazed the crowd was the authority exercised by Jesus. (4:36) The Greek word is ‘exousia’ and it means the right to control or govern and it’s a key word used to describe Jesus’ life and work. He commands evil spirits and they obey him, he rebukes a fever and it goes, he heals all who are sick and this authority is evident in his teaching. (4:32) Jesus is fully human but he is also very different, he has authority, he is the Messiah and he ticks all the boxes. (4:18)
Some years ago I sat at the bedside of a friend who was gravely sick and unconscious in hospital. He had been very active in church leadership and other ministries but in the years that I had known him, his health was poor and he was often in great pain. I read a Psalm in the hope that he could still hear me and then closed my eyes to pray. As I thought about what exactly I should pray, God spoke to me. I didn’t hear a voice, it was an awareness, I was suddenly aware of this thought. You may say I imagined it, but I am convinced that in that moment God spoke to me with absolute clarity. I felt God was saying; ‘do you think I love him any less when he is sick?’ I knew that God’s love for my friend would not change because God is faithful. God loved him as a new Christian, as a leader, when he was sick and when he was dying and when a short time later he passed into the presence of the Lord, he loved him then too and indeed he loves him now. What matters is not our state of health; it’s the state of our souls, where we stand with God. I would rather have a sick body and the prospect of an eternity with God than a healthy body and the prospect of an eternity of separation from God. That’s why Jesus’ priority was not healing, although because cared for people he healed many, his priority was to preach the good news.
Luke does not record that Jesus was praying but we can see from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 1:35) that he was. As we follow Jesus’ life, we will see that he was a man who spent a great deal of time in prayer. The implication is obvious, if we want to follow Jesus, prayer should be a priority for us as it was for him.
We thank you Lord that Jesus has authority over all things and that he came to preach the good news. Forgive us for underestimating him and make us bold today to share the truth of the Gospel.