At His Command.
Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41
“This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, ‘He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.’” – Matthew 8:17 NLT
When the people in Capernaum had witnessed Jesus cast the demon out of the man inside the walls of their very own synagogue, they exclaimed, “What sort of new teaching is this? It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” (Mark 1:27 NLT). They were blown away by what they had seen. Jesus spoke and even the demons obeyed Him. He had authority. His words had power. He was more than just another itinerant rabbi roaming the landscape of Palestine recruiting disciples. This man was special.
And as Jesus made His way from the synagogue to the home of Simon Peter, He found Himself confronted with another need, the mother-in-law of His host was sick with a fever. Luke tells us He rebuked the fever and it left her. And her healing was immediate and complete, because she got up at once and prepared a meal for them. By that evening, news had spread and crowds began to gather, bringing their sick and demon-possessed friends and family members to Jesus. Mark says, “The whole town gathered at the door to watch” (Mark 1:33 NLT. But there is an interesting dynamic going on in these passages. You have two groups interacting with Jesus and they each give us a vastly different perspective of just how they view who Jesus is. The people see a powerful healer. They obviously believe He can heal or they wouldn’t be going through the effort of coming to Him with their various maladies. They aren’t really sure who this man is, but if He can give them release from their physical ailments and deliver them from demon possession, that is all that really matters. They are stuck on a physical plane. But the demons are spiritual creatures and they have a much different perspective on just who Jesus is. Luke tells us that when Jesus commanded the demons to come out of an individual, they obeyed, but not before shouting, “You are the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41 NLT). Luke says that Jesus rebuked them and refused to let them speak because they knew He was the Messiah. They were fully aware of just who Jesus was, and they understood and feared the significance of His arrival in what had been their domain up until that time. He was competition. He was to be feared because He had power over them. He wasn’t just some rabbi, He was the very Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus was their worst nightmare realized.
It is interesting that Jesus refused to let the demons acknowledge His true identity. But He knew that if the people began to connect the dots and realized that Jesus was the Messiah, as the demons stated, they would misunderstand. Their view of who the Messiah would be and what He would do was radically different than the role for which Jesus had come. They were looking for a conquering king and a political leader to liberate them from the oppression of the Romans. Jesus knew that the people, including His own disciples, would attempt to force His hand and try to get Him to set up His earthly kingdom now. But Jesus was on His Father’s timetable, and He came to provide a different kind of liberation. He was going to set them free, but not from Roman rule. He was going to bring them salvation, but not from political oppression. The demons seemed to know this. They inherently understood that Jesus was out to do war on a spiritual plane. They had experienced His power and had been forced by Him to give up hard-fought territory. They were no match for Him. And it scared them.
It is interesting that many people today are looking to Jesus for only what they can get from Him, and their interest is purely physical in nature. They want better lives, happier marriages, more successful careers, better behaved kids, and trouble-free futures. They fail to realize that the realm in which Jesus works is a spiritual one. He came to do spiritual warfare with a spiritual enemy. He came to deliver from spiritual captivity and to heal spiritual diseases. This is not to say that Jesus cannot or will not heal us from physical sickness, but His main concern has and always will be our spiritual condition. He is out to restore us to spiritual wholeness and completeness. He wants to transform our hearts and radically change our inner beings so that we become increasingly like Him. Our greatest desire should be for spiritual healing. We should constantly look to Jesus and see Him for who He is, the Son of God, with the power and authority to radically transform our inner lives and completely restore our sin-sick hearts.
Father, it is so easy to get stuck on a physical plane and lose sight that our greatest problem is a spiritual one. We are spiritual creatures and the battle we fight each day is a spiritual one. Keep us focused on the real reason for which Your Son came. Don’t let us lose sight of the prize and become distracted by short-term fixes that relegate Jesus to some kind of life coach who is here to make our physical lives better. Give us eyes to see life from a spiritual perspective. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men