Today’s Scripture – July 14, 2017

Luke 4:31-37 (NIV) Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! 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!”
“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.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Jesus never got a chance to do any miracles in Nazareth, His hometown. But He had faithfully brought the good news to them before they ran Him out of town. Now He was back in Capernaum, His home base.

The people of Capernaum were much more open to Jesus’ teachings, and impressed by the authority with which He spoke. He didn’t merely quote the rabbis of old; He spoke on His own authority, as if He had first-hand experience with the things that He was talking about.

The fact that there was a demon-possessed man sitting quietly in the synagogue service might amaze some people. But the synagogue was just a building, a place where people gathered to worship, pray, and listen to Scripture, none of which are an intrinsic threat to a demon.

But then Jesus, God in the flesh, walked in. And instantly the demon in the man was on the defensive. The demon sat silently until the tension became too great, and then burst out with, “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!”

By identifying Jesus openly, the demon hoped to put Jesus on the defensive, or at least make the crowd overwhelming curious about who Jesus really was, so that His attention would turn away from the demon and focus on the crowd instead. But the demon did not intimidate Jesus the slightest bit. He had known that the demon was in the man the whole time, and was just waiting for it to stick its head up so that it could be taken out.

With a word, “Be quiet!” the mouth of the demon was sealed so that it couldn’t distract anyone with what it was saying. With another command, “Come out of him!” the demon was instantly and unceremoniously sent packing, leaving the possessed man free, healthy, and in his right mind.

If the people in the synagogue were blown away by Jesus authoritative teaching, they were doubly blown away by His authority over this demon. They had seen attempted exorcisms before, with lots of ritual and ceremony involved. But Jesus simply gave a command to the demon, and the demon obeyed, just like that. This was something new and wondrous!

Father, we tend to really complicate things these days. Jesus’ ministry was simple and uncomplicated because He simply relied on Your direction to know what He needed to do, and on Your power to do it. That included His teaching, His healings, and even His casting out of demons. Help me to live that same kind of simple, uncomplicated life of power and purpose today. Help me to listen carefully at all times for Your direction. And when I hear what You want me to do, help me to move forward in Your power to accomplish all that You have called me to do. Amen.

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