Luke 4: Part 2 (1)
Pray Psalm 19.7, 8.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes…
Sing Psalm 19.7, 8.
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure.
The simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.
Read and meditate on Luke 4.31, 32.
1. What was Jesus doing in Galilee?
2. How did the people respond?
It is instructive to note that the bulk of Jesus’ ministry was among those who already professed belief in God; who regularly sat to be instructed in Scripture; who outwardly adhered to many of the teachings of the Old Testament; and who identified themselves as the people of God. In verses 31 and 32, we find Him in Capernaum, a major Galilean city.
Jesus was neither pushy nor boisterous in His teaching. As we see earlier in chapter 4 (vv. 16-27), His approach was to read a text, show its relevance to Him and the Kingdom of God, then push a bit further to bring the message of the Kingdom home to the hearts of those who heard Him. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees, He felt no need to cite traditions, authorities, or scholarly opinions. He taught “with authority”; that is, He simply read the Scripture, applied it to Himself and the Kingdom, and then indicated its Kingdom significance. He was neither long-winded nor clever, neither funny nor severe. He did not teach merely to the minds of the people, but He challenged their values, perspectives, and cherished opinions. And He did not teach merely about being forgiven and going to heaven; rather, His message was that the Kingdom of God – the new regime of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – was at hand. People should prepare themselves to enter it.
Apparently, all those dutiful “believers”, those Sabbath-keeping people of God, those avowed sons and daughters of Abraham lacked what was most important: the knowledge of Christ and His Kingdom. Lacking that, they lacked everything that mattered for knowing, loving, and serving God. Only the authority of Jesus, speaking in His Word about Himself and His Kingdom, could break through their mistaken or incomplete beliefs to bring them to salvation. And this is still true today.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
The Oxford Dictionary states that authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Merriam-Webster says it is the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. Dictionary.com says it is the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine. And the Cambridge Dictionary says it is the moral or legal right or ability to control. All agree that a person with authority is a person to be reckoned with.
And Jesus astonished His listeners because His teaching was spoken with authority (Lk. 4.32). As Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28.18).
When did the Church and its leadership begin to lose their authority? Was it when bringing in large numbers became more important than preaching the truth and the Law? Or was it when the need to keep enough people in attendance, giving enough money to keep the lights and the water on dissuaded them from speaking a truth that might offend? Or was it when they suspected that the pastor down the street was funnier, better dressed, and told more amusing stories that they lost their authoritational groove? Maybe it was the issue of church music—is ours as current, fun, catchy and beat-driven? Throwing out the serious nature of Christian living for something inane and easy, but vastly more popular? Your guess is as good as mine, but frankly, the Church has lost its authority, and something is to blame.
The truth of the Kingdom of God needs to be heard. Loud and clear. The Kingdom of God is now, and we are the followers of our King Jesus and are called to live according to His standards and His Laws. Yes, one day, hallelujah, we will be taken into the new heavens and the new earth, to serve God eternally, but until then, this is where the Kingdom of God exists. “…we according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless…” (2 Pet. 3.13, 14). Now.
And in order to bring others from our Personal Mission Field into the Kingdom “here and now” we must strive to attain righteous and wise authority to speak the words of truth, that Jesus spoke, in the way that Jesus spoke them. All the Word. All the Gospel—good news and bad. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6.63). The Law is part of that life. “Set your heart on all the words…it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life…” (Deut. 32.46, 47). Here.
The Kingdom of God must be lived in “here and now” in order to dwell in “there and then”. God will keep the lights and water on; He will bring the people to church that He has called to be there; He will do all that is required to keep the church running. But we must be His Church and His people to expect His blessings, oversight, and care, as we speak the truth. “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1.12, 13).
May all Christians everywhere, pastors and people alike, be revived to speak all the Words of God.
1. Why do you think Jesus speaking with authority “astonished” the people who heard Him?
2. What are some things that could undermine the authority of God’s Word in your life?
3. How do you experience the authority of Jesus as He speaks to you from His Word?
In short, the [Evangelist means] that, while the manner of teaching, which then prevailed, was so greatly degenerated and so extremely corrupted, that it did not impress the minds of men with any reverence for God, the preaching of Christ was eminently distinguished by the divine power of the Spirit, which procured for him the respect of his hearers. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Luke 4.32
Pray Psalm 19.9-14.
Pray that God’s Word will speak to you with authority, opening your mind to God’s will, your heart to His praise, and your conscience to His values and priorities. Seek light from His Word for the work that is before you this day.
Sing Psalm 19.9-14.
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet.
Be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.
Who, Lord, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
Oh, let my thoughts, let all my words before Your glorious sight
be pleasing to You, gracious Lord, acceptable and right.
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.
If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.