Posted by: gbake783 | March 15, 2011

Luke 4:38-44

We’ve all heard an English teacher explain the elements of a story well-told: introduction, rising action, crisis point/climax, falling action, and resolution. And within the context of Luke’s narrative, this account contains all the elements of a great story.

Earlier that same Sabbath day, Jesus commanded a group of demons leave the man they were possessing. The demons obeyed and everyone marveled at His authority. After synagogue, Luke records that Jesus went to Simon Peter’s house where He learned that Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a severe fever. Jesus, of course, healed her so completely that afterward she served Him gratefully. 

The drama with Simon’s mother-in-law foreshadowed the evening: the entire population of Capernaum carried their infirmed to Jesus. The text indicates they arrived at sundown, which means they came as early as possible, the moment Sabbath was ending. And just as Jesus took compassion on Simon-Peter’s mother-in-law, He poured out His mercy on the masses and healed them all with a personal touch.

The action continues to rise.

The next morning Jesus gets up early to seek His Father in prayer (Luke implies it, but Mark’s account confirms). While He is praying, the masses begin seeking Jesus. And this is where we reach our crisis – How will Jesus respond? The disciples see opportunity – Peter says, “Everyone is looking for you!” I’m sure it would have been easy to tarry with these needy people – perhaps Capernaum could be a base of operations. I’m certain that Capernaum’s response tugged at our Lord’s heart: God rewards those who seek Him (Deut. 4:29). It could be argued that these Jews sought with false motives. But I do not think this was the case: Scripture writers are capable of revealing the public’s motives (John 6:15) and Luke does not condemn them here.

Perhaps it was Jesus’ great compassion that prompted His need for prayerful repose: not My will Lord, but Thine be done. And Jesus submits to God’s will – “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns as well; I was sent for this purpose” (4:43). Jesus was under God’s authority – He possessed marching orders and endeavored to follow them. Interestingly, it was rare that His preaching would be received so positively. His preaching often stirred conflict with the religious authorities. Yet, despite those consequences that Jesus no doubt could foresee, He steadfastly pursued God’s will.

At Arlington National Cemetery, sentinels from the Army’s 3rd US Infantry Regiment guard the Tomb of the Unknowns around the clock. In fact, the Tomb has been under perpetual watch since July 1, 1937. The sentinels pace 21 steps, face the tomb and pause 21 seconds, then face the opposite direction and change their weapon to the outside shoulder while pausing 21 seconds more, and then take 21 more paces repeating the process. Despite rain or heat, the sentinels are constant: pacing the same 21 steps, pausing the same 21 seconds. Whether Christmas morning or a bright spring afternoon, the sentinels take the same 21 paces and pause the same 21 seconds. It is their duty and honor. The sentinels are men under authority and carry out their orders regardless of circumstance.

Jesus embodied that spirit: He was under God’s authority. And we, too, have our own orders. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19-20); “you will be my witnesses . . . to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Do we follow Jesus’ example in obeying God’s commission? Do difficulties or circumstances encumber our obedience? I asked my church on Sunday to ask themselves when was the last time they truly shared the good news of the Kingdom of God to a lost person. Has it been a while? Perhaps a good goal is this: By God’s grace, share the gospel with one person this week. Write a letter to a lost family member. Talk to a co-worker about your testimony. Christ makes this promise: He’ll be with you. Take heart, you’ll be witnessing in the presence and power of the One with all authority.


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