Sunday, February 28, 2010

Luke 4:31-5:11

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 "Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"
35 "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!" 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
5:1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
5 Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Points of Interest:

• ‘because his words had authority’—the main difference between Jesus’ words and the words of other teachers is that his words are powerful. They don’t just add knowledge, they cause action: people are rescued from the clutches of evil spiritual beings or healed of diseases when he speaks.

• ‘I know who you are’—demons are evil spiritual beings associated with the devil and constantly on the lookout to do people harm. Perhaps this demon knows who Jesus is because he’s heard about Jesus’ showdown with the devil. Or maybe he can just tell somehow by looking at him. In any case, sadly, this demon recognizes him for who he is, when the people of Nazareth could not.

• ‘Come out of him!’—Jesus is proclaiming freedom to a prisoner, just as he said in his teaching in Nazareth.

• ‘At sunset’—at sunset, the Sabbath, which is the day of rest, would end and it would be permissible to do work, like carrying sick people.

• ‘laying his hands on each one, he healed them’—Jesus is showing what it means for him to be the savior. He is not saving these people in some vague, ethereal way. He is quite tangibly rescuing them from disease, and from the influence of evil spirits who are doing them harm.

• ‘would not allow them to speak’—maniacal-sounding, ranting demons would not exactly be Jesus’ chosen spokespeople. Plus, he seems to prefer to demonstrate who he is.

• ‘Jesus went out to a solitary place’—maybe he snuck out early just to beat traffic, but it sounds to me like he went to find a quiet place to pray. It’s quite possible that, just as he started his ministry being led by the Spirit into the wilderness, he started his day by being led by the Spirit to a quiet place, to receive instructions from God for the day.

• ‘they tried to keep him from leaving them’—of course, it’s natural that they would want this experience to continue, but Jesus’ mission is bigger than one town. He wants to spread his good news as wide as possible.

• ‘in the synagogues of Judea’—he moves on from Galilee to Judea.

• ‘taught the people from the boat’—to avoid being mobbed, and to use the water to help him project his voice.

• ‘let down the nets for a catch’—Simon has just washed these nets. And besides, as he says, he’s been fishing all night and hasn’t caught a thing. After a miserable night of work, he’s probably ready to go home. Nonetheless, he acts on Jesus’ word.

• ‘so full that they began to sink’—Surely no one had even heard of such a large catch of fish that nets were breaking and boats swamping. It’s a catch of fish specifically designed to boggle the mind of fishermen.

• ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"—Simon realizes that he’s in the presence of someone very special, and it’s a little hard for him to grasp. Maybe he’s afraid that, being so near someone so holy, he will be burned like chaff, to borrow a phrase from John.

• ‘from now on you will fish for people’—Simon is not going to be destroyed or punished. He’s going to be transformed. Because of his humble response, Simon is raised up.

• ‘left everything and followed him’—Jesus himself has just been fishing for people. He’s used a huge catch of fish to catch himself some fishermen. After nearly swamping their boats trying to haul the fish in, they just leave them on the shore to be with Jesus instead. They realize that the person who led them to such a catch is more valuable than the catch.

Taking it home:

For you and your family: Jesus wants to show you that he cares about you. What do you need from Jesus today? Do you need something encouraging to happen at work? Do you need a sick relative to start feeling better? Do you just need him to assure you that he’s not angry at you? Ask Jesus for that thing you need.
For your friends: We’re not really used to thinking about demons, and most of our images of demonic possession come from horror movies. It’s kind of hard to take something like that seriously, or to imagine that such a creature might actually be affecting your friends. But look at it this way: do any of your friends seem to be consistently trapped by negative thoughts or compulsions? Maybe these are even things that don’t seem to fit with the rest of what you know of the person’s character. Perhaps there’s an evil spirit at the root of it. Trying asking Jesus to free your friend from the power of that spirit, and see what happens.
For our city: Pray for the sick people of our city to be made well. Pray particularly for our prayer ministry team. Pray that sick people from all over our city would find their way to our church, and seek out prayer, just as the sick people of Capernaum found their way to Jesus; and pray that they would leave the time of prayer ministry feeling better.