Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!" But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
- Luke 4:31-37
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.'" Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, "Is this not Joseph's son?" He said to them, "You will surely say this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.'" Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. My study bible quotes Ambrose of Milan, in saying that Christ begins preaching and healing on the Sabbaths to show that "the new creation began where the old creation ceased." Jesus teaches with authority in that He doesn't preach like the prophets of old nor the teacher of His day, who taught what the Law or the Lord said. Jesus teaches using language in the first person form: "I say to you." See, for a prime example, Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.
Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!" But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" More evidence that there is a Kingdom being borne into the world, something here that is not usually here! But the demons tend to reveal what isn't meant to be revealed -- yet, and so Jesus rebukes them to "Be quiet!" It's not time yet for His identity as Christ to be made public. This idea of the appropriate time is reflected in the prophecy of Isaiah which Jesus read in yesterday's reading, at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth: "To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." Isaiah 42:1-4 foresees the Servant who is a humble Messiah until His mission is finished. My study bible suggests that there are several reasons for secrecy: the growing hostility of the religious leadership, the misunderstanding of the people regarding the Messiah as political leader, and Christ's desire to evoke genuine faith. Christ will encourage His faithful to be like Him, a Servant.
And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region. Jesus' ministry can't be suppressed; His very presence guarantees that all sorts of things will happen. Reactions to Him will be everywhere, as in yesterday's reading we read about the people's mixture of both marveling and rejecting. The demons react to Christ, they know who He is. They tell us of a kind of battle, a Kingdom being brought into the world, an authority present whether we are aware of it or not.
Jesus' presence reveals so many things. Even the visceral way that people react to Him tells us something of the power and authority that is present. One way and another, people react. And in today's story, we see how the "unclean spirits" or demons react. They know who He is, and they fear His effect on them. It's the presence of the Kingdom that elicits this response. Awhile back, we commented on the notion of a "liberated zone" that Jesus creates by coming into the world. He's a king claiming this particular Kingdom, liberating a world from unclean spirits and demons, from the "ruler" or "prince" of this world. But so much depends on hearts and minds. This is a kingdom where service is voluntary, loyalty depends on our response, and the rooting of that kingdom takes place within us, among us. In that sense, we see the wisdom of the choice in which Jesus doesn't rule or proclaim leadership by military might or power, by dazzling effects of signs guaranteed to force belief. This kingdom is one of love, and love isn't given without freedom. Our Suffering Servant, the humble Messiah, is the one who wants our love. It's a love that starts with a love of the Father, and that's something built into the notions of the Kingdom as well. There's no separation between Father and Son, and there's no separation in us. Furthermore, up to this point it is the Spirit that has been active in creating and beginning this ministry: it was the Spirit that hovered over Christ at the Baptism, and the Spirit who led Christ to be tempted by the prince of this world, Satan. In yesterday's reading, Jesus proclaimed the words of Isaiah: The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me. Father, Son, and Spirit are inseparable, and our participation in this Kingdom is bound up with the Trinity. This relationship and oneness has its basis in love, and without love there can be no Kingdom. It is the power of love the demons fear, and Christ's authority and leadership come from love. Thereby we're given to understand the power of healing at work in all of this ministry: that the establishment of the Kingdom is an act of healing, of healing the world back to its "original" state and purpose, healing us to be united with Creator, reconciling and making whole, and making the world a "safe place" for the laws of love. In this humble Messiah, the Suffering Servant, is our image of how that happens, the only way it's possible. He commands our love and our courage, and demons fear Him, although in the words of Isaiah, "a bruised reed He will not break."