They were astonished at His teaching, because His message had authority.
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.
For His word was with power.
Witness the ministry of Chalmers. It is said that Professor Young, who occupied the chair of Greek in the university, on one occasion "was so electrified that he leaped up from his seat upon the bench near the pulpit, and stood, breathless and motionless, gazing at the preacher, until the burst was over, the tears all the while rolling down his cheeks." Dr. Wardlaw describes one scene he witnessed as follows: — "It was a transcendently grand, a glorious burst. The energy of the Doctor's action corresponded. Intense emotion beamed from his countenance. I cannot describe the appearance of his face better than by saying, as Foster said of Hall's, it was 'lighted up almost into a glare.' The congregation — in so far as the spell under which I was allowed me to observe them — were intensely excited, leaning forward in the pews like a forest bent under the power of the hurricane, looking steadfastly at the preacher and listening in breathless wonderment. One young man, apparently by his dress a sailor, started to his feet and stood till it was over. As soon as it was concluded there was (as invariably was the case at the close of the Doctor's bursts) a deep sigh, or rather a gasp for breath, accompanied by a movement through the whole audience."
We remember having heard a departed friend tell how, when a boy, he was taken by his father, one still, summer evening across the Northamptonshire fields — I believe it was to the little village of Thrapstone — to hear Robert Hall. It was one of those old village chapels, with the square galleries. As in the instance of Chalmers, the place was crowded with plain farmer folk and a sprinkling of intelligent ministers and gentry from the neighbourhood. The minister came m, a simple, heavy, but still impressive-looking man, one whose presence compelled you to look at him. In due course he announced his text, "The end of all things is at hand; be sober and watch." Quite unlike Chalmers, his voice was not shattering, but thin and weak. There was no action at all, or only a kind of nervous twitching of the fingers; more especially as the hand moved and rested upon the lower part of the back, where the speaker was suffering almost incessant pain. As he went on, beneath the deepening evening shades falling through the windows of the old chapel, his voice first chained and then charmed and fascinated his hearers one after another; the whole place seemed as if beneath a great spell. As he talked about "the end," the spell upon the people seemed to begin to work itself out into an awful, fearful restlessness; first one, then another, rose from their seats, and stood stretching forward with a kind of fright and wonder. Still there was no action, only the following on of that thin voice, with a marvellous witchery of apt and melodious words, but through them "the end of all things" sounded like some warning bell. More people rose, stretching forward. Many of those who rose first, as if they felt some strange power upon them, they knew not what, got up and stood upon their seats until, when the great master ceased, dosing his passionate and pathetic accents, the whole audience was upon its feet, intensely alive with interest, as if each one had heard in the distance the presages and preludes of the coming end, and felt that it was time to prepare. My friend used to speak of that never-forgotten moment, that summer evening in the old chapel as one of the most memorable of his life.
Nor is it the only exhibition of power. Consider the chemical affinity that draws together the acids and alkalies. Think of the magnetic power which makes the steel filings, though in the midst of dust and rubbish and clippings of tin and brass, leave them all and fly up and kiss the magnet. It touches the pivoted needle, and men and treasures are secure upon the stormy ocean by its unerring guidance. The winds blow ever so fiercely; the waves roll ever so furiously; the vessel pitches as though it would founder; and yet that strange influence, unseen, unheard, unfelt, holds the needle in its place. Who can tell what is power? We see it in its effects; we measure it in its results.
There is a beautiful legend of St. . He had been educated carefully; was a man of culture, and devoted to his calling; and yet in his earlier ministry he was not remarkable for his success. At one time he had what seemed to be a vision. He thought he was in the pulpit, and in the chancel and round about him were holy angels. In the midst of them and directly before him was the Lord Jesus; and he was to preach to the congregation assembled beyond. The vision or the reverie deeply affected his spirit.. The next day he ascended the pulpit he felt the impression of the scene. He thought of the holy angels as if gathered around him; of the blessed Saviour as directly before him — as listening to His words, and beholding His Spirit. He became intensely earnest; and from that day forward a wonderful power attended his ministrations. Multitudes gathered around him wherever he preached. Though he had the simple name of John while he lived, the ages have called him Chrysostom, the "golden-mouthed."
: — I shall endeavour to show, therefore, that the word of our blessed Lord was always attended with power —
I. From the truth and disinterestedness of His doctrines, and the superior excellence of His sentiments.
II. From the gracious manner in which those sentiments were delivered.
III. From the openness and sincerity of His reproof; and —
IV. From His example.
LinksLuke 4:32 NIVLuke 4:32 NLTLuke 4:32 ESVLuke 4:32 NASBLuke 4:32 KJV
Luke 4:32 Bible AppsLuke 4:32 ParallelLuke 4:32 Biblia ParalelaLuke 4:32 Chinese BibleLuke 4:32 French BibleLuke 4:32 German Bible
Luke 4:32 Commentaries