Luke 4:31-32 Then he went down to Capernaum. . . . They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
Capernaum is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and is about a day and a half’s journey from Nazareth by foot. It is where Peter lived and ran his fishing business. The people there were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, and took note of his authority.
[T]he Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). I have authority to lay [my life] down and authority to take it up again (John 10:18). And, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18), he said.
Jesus proved his authority by casting out demons (Matthew 8:32), stopping a storm (Mark 4:39), raising the dead (John 11:43-44), and in many other ways. He had more authority than anyone else on earth, not because he was the head of an empire, but because he was God in human flesh.
Luke 4:34 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!
As Jesus preached in the synagogue, a man who was demon-possessed started acting up. The demon recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God, and feared being destroyed. Demons are fallen angels (Jude 1:6) that will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10). They are more afraid of Jesus than most people, because they understand who he really is.
Luke 4:35 Be quiet! Jesus said sternly. Come out of him!
The demon threw the man down and came out. We do not know how the man came to be possessed, only that Jesus delivered him. He could not set himself free, but he was freed by Jesus Christ.
We can all be troubled by demons, at times, but the Bible tells us how to be free. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:7-8), wrote James. Demons are like rats that that feed on the garbage of sin. If we get rid of the garbage, the rats will go too.
Luke 4:38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.
Simon Peter’s home was nearby, and since the synagogue service was over, it was probably time for lunch. When they arrived, Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from a fever. It may have been life-threatening, so they brought the matter to Jesus, and he rebuked the fever. She got up at once and began to wait on them (Luke 4:39), wrote Luke.
The order of events is significant. She did not wait on them, so Jesus would heal her; Jesus healed her, and she began to wait on them. Grateful service is the normal response to the grace of Jesus Christ.
Jerry was eighteen years old when he put his faith in Christ. A few years later he moved to Mexico, where he and his wife reached out to abandoned children. God blessed their work, and an orphanage now exists that serves hundreds of kids who used to be homeless.
This may be the last thing Jerry would have done apart from Jesus Christ. But when he learned what Christ had done for him, a lifetime of service seemed natural. Not everyone will start an orphanage, but everyone who believes in Jesus Christ should respond with grateful service.
Luke 4:42 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.
Jesus’ ministry in Capernaum was so effective that the people did not want him to leave. But Jesus refused to be detained. I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent (Luke 4:43), he said.
It would have been easier for Jesus to stay in Capernaum, and let everyone come to him. But Jesus was compelled by his heavenly Father to take the good news far and wide. In doing so, Jesus anticipated the church’s task of taking the gospel to the world. [Y]ou will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), he said.
Churches often settle down and forget their mission to the world. By focusing on themselves, they lose their effectiveness. Like Christ himself, the church must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is [where we are] sent.
Luke 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.
To avoid the press of the crowd, Jesus got into Peter’s boat and preached from off shore. Then he told Peter and the boys to let down their nets. They had not caught a fish all night, but they did what Jesus said, and caught so many fish that their nets began to break. Peter fell at Jesus knees and said, Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8).
We might expect Peter to say, Let’s go into business Lord; together we will make a fortune. But as Jesus taught from the boat that day, Peter listened to the pure word of God, and felt a sense of unworthiness. He was a common fisherman sitting in the same boat as the holiest person who ever lived. When Jesus showed his power in the remarkable catch of fish, Peter felt undeserving of his presence.
As a shaft of light reveals dust in the air that we do not normally see, so a glimpse of God reveals sin in the soul to which we are normally blind. The further we are from God the more we may feel righteous, and the closer we are to God the more we may feel our sin. Sinners think they are righteous, and the righteous know they are sinful.
Luke 5:10 Do not be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.
For many years, Peter’s occupation was to catch fish for people. Now his occupation was to catch people for Christ. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and three thousand believed (Acts 2:41). A short time later he preached again, and two thousand more believed (Acts 4:4). The fisherman from Galilee became a man who fished for people.
More recently, a man was fishing off a riverbank, and was startled to see a human corpse floating downstream. He cast a line and reeled it in, only to find the corpse was not completely dead. But he would have been dead soon, if he had not been caught by the fisherman. The task of the church is to catch people for Christ, so they will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Reflection and Review
Why are demons afraid of Christ?
How should we respond to the grace of Christ?
How can the church catch people for Christ?