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. — Luke 4:36
I distinctly remember the first time I heard our newly hired professor perform. Alexander Tutunov had grown up as a child protégé under the Communist regime in Russia, and now he lived in the United States. Rumors had circulated that he was an amazing pianist. Everyone was curious to meet this fascinating new faculty member to see if he really was as good as rumor claimed.
As a music major at Southern Oregon University, I was required to attend many concerts throughout the academic year. Doing so wasn’t really drudgery, since world-renowned musicians frequently performed at our concert hall. However, I looked forward to hearing our new professor more than the usual concerts.
The man who walked on stage was small, probably shorter and thinner than anyone else in the room. He bowed his head shyly in response to our applause. I thought, This man is nothing like I expected. Then he began to play. It remains the most powerfully executed and emotionally charged performance I have ever heard. As a student, I usually applauded politely (if slightly apathetically), but at the end of this concert, I was standing on my feet and hollering with everyone else. I still remember seeing our very stoic band professor screaming too. The expectation had been great, but that night, the dynamic performance turned out to be even greater.
At the time of the events in today’s text, Jesus was becoming known throughout the region of Galilee. Perhaps some people came to listen to Him simply because they wanted to see if He was as good a speaker as rumors had indicated, or if He really could heal people. Likely there were many openly curious spectators and just as many skeptics.
Whatever their intent, those who came to Jesus were astounded at what they saw and heard. Jesus spoke with power from Heaven. He instantaneously healed people of terrible diseases. And when the crowds thought it couldn’t get any greater, He commanded demons to come out of a man and they obeyed! Jesus was more than a dynamic speaker and miraculous healer. He had power over every power of evil! Hope began to stir among the people who watched and listened. Our focus verse says, “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.”
In our lives, we are often awed by a great feat or a mighty performance, yet what God does is far greater. He can deliver a person from evil. He has power to heal. He can miraculously transform a broken life into one of peace and joy. Have you seen what God can do? Have you experienced the life-changing salvation that only God can give? You will discover it greatly exceeds anything you imagined.
Nazareth (see verse 16) is situated at the southern edge of the hill country of Galilee overlooking the Jezreel Valley. In the time of Jesus, it was a small and insignificant agricultural village, likely not exceeding five hundred in population. Since no trade routes ran through it, the town was of little economic importance. It was here that Jesus had grown up, a place where residents knew one another.
During the Jews’ exile, when they no longer had their Temple, synagogues had become a place of worship on the Sabbath and a school where the Holy Scriptures were taught during the week. This custom continued after the Temple was rebuilt. A synagogue was allowed in any Jewish village where there were at least ten Jewish families. Each synagogue had a leader and an assistant, who often invited visiting rabbis to read and teach from the Scriptures.
Verse 16 relates that Jesus went to the synagogue “as his custom was.” He had worshipped there regularly on the Sabbath when he was living in Nazareth. On this particular day, Jesus participated in the reading from Isaiah 61 (verses 1 and 2). He read about the promised Messiah’s earthly ministry of preaching and healing. Then He stopped reading, almost midsentence, just before the mention of judgment to come in the end times (Isaiah 61:2).
At first the men in the synagogue “bare witness of him” or spoke well of Him. However, their reaction swiftly changed to anger as Jesus expounded on the Word. He intimated that He was the Messiah, and also that God’s blessings had gone to Gentiles (the widow of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian) because there was a lack of faith in Israel. The men in the synagogue took offense to both assertions, and so Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah in His hometown. Perhaps this rejection symbolized that of the Jewish nation as a whole.
Jesus proceeded from the higher elevations of southern Galilee to Capernaum, 650 feet below sea level at the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee (verse 31). Capernaum was a thriving city of great wealth and decadence, and the headquarters for many Roman troops. It also was the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Jesus apparently had been given the opportunity of teaching in the synagogue. The same day He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a serious fever, and she was able to attend to others’ needs immediately after.
At sunset on that day, many people came to Jesus at Peter’s house for healing. Sunset marked the end of the Sabbath, which had begun at sunset on the previous day. The Law prohibited traveling and working on the Sabbath.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
A. The commencement of the ministry of the Son of Man (4:14-44)
1. The claims of the Son of Man (4:14-30)
a. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry (4:14-15)
b. The reading in the synagogue (4:16-20)
c. The interpretation in the synagogue (4:21-22)
d. The illustration (4:23-27)
e. The rejection of the Son (4:28-30)
2. The proof of the Son’s claims (4:31-41)
a. His authoritative teaching (4:31-32)
b. His authority over demons (4:33-37)
c. His authority over disease (4:38-41)
3. The mission of the Son of Man (4:42-44)
If you have yet to experience the amazing power of God, come to Him today. Like those in Jesus’ day, you will be amazed!