Luke 4:32, 37
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.…
His word was with power; "The fame of him went out." Fame and power are the objects of eager and arduous pursuit; they are supposed to be deserving of the expenditure of our strength, and to reward us for all our anxieties and toils. What is their worth, intrinsic and relative? What were they to our Lord? and what should they be to us?
I. THE WORTHLESSNESS OF FAME.
1. The fame of Jesus Christ, as a man, is remarkable indeed. Born in a little Judaean village, of humble parents, receiving a very scanty education, enjoying no patronage, teaching truths too deep to be understood by the multitude and too broad to be appreciated by the orthodox of his time, arousing the hatred of the powerful, and dying while yet a young man a death of utmost ignominy, - his name has become known, his doctrine has been received, he himself has been honored and even worshipped by countless millions of mankind under every sky. This is fame of the first magnitude; there are very few names "under heaven given among men" that can aspire to stand in the same rank, on the ground of human fame.
2. Jesus Christ shunned rather than sought fame. "Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it" (Matthew 9:30; Matthew 8:4; Matthew 12:16; Matthew 17:9). "Great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed... and he withdrew himself into the wilderness" (Luke 5:15, 16; see also Vers. 42, 43).
3. He appears to have been embarrassed by his fame rather than gratified, and his work seems to have been hindered rather than helped by it (see John 6:15). And it is obvious that, as his great and high purpose was one which was far removed from the superficial and worldly hopes of the people, popularity or fame would not further but rather retard the work he had in hand. It is worth no man's while to be seriously concerned about his fame. To seek for and strive after an honorable reputation is what every man owes to himself, to his family, to his Church, to his Master. But no man need concern himself greatly about the acquisition of fame.
(1) It is obvious that only a very small minority of mankind can attain it; therefore any extensive endeavor after it must end in disappointment.
(2) It is of very slight intrinsic worth; for it is possessed and enjoyed by the bad as well as by the good, by the notorious as well as by the celebrated.
(3) It does not usually crown its hero until he has gone where it will no longer affect him; useless to the martyred patriot himself, however valuable to his country, is the costly tomb, or the splendid monument, or the elaborate elegy contributed to his memory.
(4) Its effect on living men is exceedingly doubtful; it may gladden and stimulate, but it may elate and injure.
II. THE EXCELLENCY OF POWER. "Power belongeth unto God" (Psalm 62:12). And power belonged to the Son of God. "Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit" (ver. 14).
1. Christ possessed and exerted power - the power of the prophet, speaking truth; "his word was with power" (ver. 32; Matthew 7:28, 29); the power of the Son of God, working miracles; the power of holiness and innocency (John 7:30; John 18:6); the power of love and sympathy, attaching disciples, men and women, to himself with bonds of affection that no dangers or sufferings could break.
2. He aspired after other and still higher power than any he exercised - the power which could only be gained by a sacrificial death. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." That pure and holy aspiration has been and shall be gloriously fulfilled. It is well worth our while to seek after a true, living, spiritual power.
(1) It is attainable by us all; it is within the reach of those who seek it in the fellowship and the service of Christ, and who ask it of the Spirit of God.
(2) It is of real intrinsic worth; it is a Divine, a Christ-like, an angelic thing; it is a source of benefit and blessing to mankind.
(3) It will enlarge our heritage both here and hereafter; for to every man God will give sacred and blessed opportunity of service "according to his several ability." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.