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
In yesterday's reading, we were told that after His temptation and forty days in the wilderness, 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. My study bible quotes St. Ambrose of Milan on this verse, who writes that Jesus begins preaching and healing on the Sabbaths to show that "the new creation began where the old creation ceased."
And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. There are many things Jesus does that cause people to be astonished. But the subject of His authority is an essential to note. He is unlike the prophets of old and the teachers of His day. My study bible explains that they would teach in the third person ("The Lord says"). But Jesus speaks from Himself; He teaches in the first person ("I say to you"). See also Matthew 5, the first part of 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!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Jesus commands the demon to be quiet, and come out of him. Although He speaks with authority and His power is evident, Jesus isn't ready to reveal Himself as Christ, the Messiah. It's not yet His time. In yesterday's reading, Jesus read from Isaiah to the people of His hometown, Nazareth. This lack of open proclamation of His identity was also foreseen by Isaiah (see Isaiah 42:1-4). My study bible cites reasons for secrecy which include the growing hostility of the religious leadership, the people's misunderstanding and false expectations of the Messiah as an earthly and political leader, and Christ's desire for genuine faith not based wholly on persuasive or marvelous signs. The demons know Him, and they know His power of judgment, but they do not willingly serve that power. They, however, cannot resist His command.
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 expresses His authority and power in what He does, how He ministers. His is not a ministry of open proclamation and worldly types of persuasion. Faith must come from those who accept to understand what He does and what He teaches.
Jesus' temptations in the wilderness were all about temptations for worldly use of both His authority and His power. Satan questioned Christ's relationship to the Father, and His identity as Son; the temptation was to prove it on worldly terms. In these beginning passages of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, we see the temptations' roots in how His ministry is to be conducted. He will not give earthly proofs of who He is, although His ministry will express many signs of the divine at work. He will not declare Himself as a sort of worldly power, commanding armies and legions and using force or manipulation as persuasion. His ministry is one that calls people to faith, and more. He calls human beings to use their own capacities for spiritual sight and hearing. In the unclean demon, we see an example of the spiritual without the true discipline of faith. It is simply destructive -- and destructive to human beings. Its work is parasitical, its energy and effect is haywire. It teaches us that even the "spiritual" does not guarantee good effect, good direction, true healing for human beings, nor good intention and order. The demon does not love God, nor understand God's love, but only fears destruction -- and therefore does not love human beings. Ultimately, the real key to faith is love, what we love within ourselves, and the depth of loyalty that builds in terms of faith in the word and teachings of Christ. In such we come to more deeply know God's love. Jesus' power and authority come down to the appeal to those who love God, and therefore can know God, recognizing what is before them. He will repeat this teaching over and over again to the authorities: that had they known His Father, they would know Him. So what is this word that is brought into the world by the Word Himself? How do we really know love, and what is truly good for us? What is contained in His love that the demon doesn't know? How is it that we as human beings are capable of discerning this? There are many reasons why His ministry will unfold as it does, for His way of calling out faith. But above all, we can see the tie between faith and love. Do we have ears to hear and eyes to see it?