Luke 4:33


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.







And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil.
I. Observe THE CONFESSION THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT MADE concerning the Redeemer. Here Christ's righteousness and purity are admitted.

1. He is declared to be "the Holy One of God."

(1)God's Son — God's Servant.

(2)Having God's holy nature and attributes.

(3)Formal as to His manhood by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost.

(4)Coming into the world to exhibit in all its complete excellency God's holy law.

(5)On the holy mission of redeeming men from sin, and bringing them to the blessedness of personal holiness.

(6)In the world for the express purpose of setting up a holy kingdom — a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

2. This confession was bold and public.

3. It was deprecatory. The language of dread. The demons knew their time was limited, their power circumscribed, and that their hellish rule and dominion was to be overthrown by the Son of God.

II. Observe THE COURSE CHRIST ADOPTED.

1. Rebuke.

2. Expulsion.

III. Notice THE RESULTS WHICH FOLLOWED.

1. The unclean spirit gives a last struggle to injure his victim.

2. He came out of the man.

3. The people gave homage and glory to Christ.

4. The fame of Christ was spread abroad.Application:

1. The unrenewed mind is under the power of the unclean spirit.

2. Those who are thus influenced are in circumstances of misery and peril.

3. Christ alone has power to save and deliver.

4. In the gospel this deliverance is proclaimed.

(Jabez Burns, D. D.)

Should the possessed mentioned by the evangelists be regarded simply as persons afflicted after the same manner as our lunatics, whose derangement was attributed by Jewish and heathen superstition to supernatural influence? Or did God really permit, at this extraordinary epoch in history, an exceptional display of diabolical power? Or, lastly, should certain morbid conditions, now existing, which medical science attributes to purely natural causes, either physical or psychical, be put down, at the present day also, to the action of higher causes? These are the three hypotheses which present themselves to the mind. Several of the demoniacs healed by Jesus certainly exhibit symptoms very like those which are observed at the present day in those who are simply afflicted; e.g., the epileptic child (Luke 9:37). These strange conditions in every case, therefore, were based on a real disorder, either physical or physico-psychical. The evangelists are so far from being ignorant of this, that they constantly class the demoniacs under the category of the sick, never under that of the vicious. The possessed have nothing in common with the "children of the devil." Nevertheless these afflicted persons are constantly made a class by themselves. On what does this distinction rest? On this leading fact, that those who are simply sick enjoy their own personal consciousness, and are in possession of their own will; while in the possessed these faculties are, as it were, confiscated to a foreign power, with which the sick person identifies himself. How is this peculiar system to be explained? Josephus, under Hellenic influence, thought that it should be attributed to the souls of wicked men who came after death seeking a domicile in the living. In the eyes of the people the strange guest was a demon, a fallen angel. This latter opinion Jesus must have shared. Strictly speaking, His colloquies with the demoniacs might be explained by an accommodation to popular prejudice, and the sentiments of those who were thus afflicted; but in His private conversations with His disciples, He must, whatever was true, have disclosed His real thoughts, and sought to enlighten them. But He does nothing of the kind; on the contrary, He gives the apostles and disciples power to "cast out devils" (Luke 9:1), and to tread on "all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19). In Mark 9:29 He distinguishes a certain class of demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. In Luke 11:21 He explains the facility with which He casts out demons by the personal victory which He had achieved over Satan at the beginning. He therefore admitted the intervention of this being in these mysterious conditions. If this is so, is it not natural to admit that He who exercised over this, as over all other kinds of maladies, such absolute power, best understood its nature, and that therefore His views upon the point should determine ours? Are there not times when God permits a superior evil power to invade humanity? Just as God sent Jesus at a period in history when moral and social evil had reached its culminating point, did not He also permit an extraordinary manifestation of diabolical power to take place at the same time? By this means Jesus could be proclaimed externally and visibly as the conqueror of the enemy of men, as He who came to "destroy the works of the devil" in the moral sense of the expression. As to the present state of things, it must not be compared with the times of Jesus. Not only might the latter have been of an exceptional character; but the beneficent influence which the gospel has exercised in restoring man to Himself, and bringing his conscience under the power of the holy and true God, may have brought about a complete change in the spiritual world. Lastly, apart from all this, is there nothing mysterious, from a scientific point of view, in certain cases of mental derangement, particularly in those conditions in which the will is, as it were, confiscated to, and paralyzed by, an unknown power? And after deduction has been made for all those forms of mental maladies which a discriminating analysis can explain by moral and physical relations, will not an impartial physician agree that there is a residuum of cases respecting which he must say: Non liquet? Possession is a caricature of inspiration. The latter, attaching itself to the moral essence of a man, confirms him for ever in the possession of his true self; the former, while profoundly opposed to the nature of the subject, takes advantage of its state of morbid passivity, and leads to the forfeiture of personality. The one is the highest work of God; the other, of the devil.

(F. Coder, D. D.)

Strange men in strange places I Think of a devil being in the synagogue! It is the same to-day. The sanctuary draws into itself all sorts of human character; not only the rich and the poor, but the best and the worst are there. Evil knows good and hates it. Evil is not so powerful in reality as goodness, though apparently much mightier. Jesus is greater than all evil spirits. "Art Thou come to destroy us?" is a significant inquiry. "For this purpose was He manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The superstition which connects demons with a wilderness has been used to explain our Lord's temptation. That explanation has nothing to do with the story given us by the evangelists. They describe the encounter of the Spirit of Christ with the spirit of evil; the test of their veracity lies in the experience of human beings in cities as much as in deserts, in one period as much as another. It seems to me, then, most reasonable, not only for the sake of anything which may have been peculiar to that time, but for the sake of every time, that the evangelist should give these victories over demons a prominent place in the history of Redemption. The impression produced in the synagogue of Capernaum is the simplest testimony to the nature of such a sign. "What a word is this? " they said. There was the sense of One who did not charm 'away evils by a look or a touch. The calm Divine energy with which He declared that the kingdom of God was indeed among men — that God's power was manifesting itself as of old in breaking fetters, in setting captives free — this came forth in the command that the unclean spirit should depart. The evil spirit was not the man's lord. The kingdoms of this world and the glory of them were not his. Holiness was mightier.

(F. D. Maurice.)

An affecting case was that of William Pope, of Bolton, in Lancashire. At this place there is a considerable number of deistical persons, who assemble together on Sundays to confirm each other in their infidelity. The oaths and imprecations that arc uttered in that meeting are too horrible to relate, while they toss the Word of God upon the floor, kick it round the house, and tread it under their feet. This William Pope, who had been a steady Methodist for some years, became at length a professed Deist, and joined himself to this hellish crew. After he had been an associate of this company some time, he was taken ill, and the nature of his complaint was such, that he confessed the hand of God was upon him, and he declared he longed to die, that he might go to hell, many times praying earnestly for damnation. Two of the Methodist preachers, Messrs. Rhodes and Barrowclough, were sent for to talk to and pray with the unhappy man. But he was so far from being thankful for their advice and assistance, that he spit in their faces, threw at them whatever he could lay his hands upon, struck one of them upon the head with all his might, and often cried out, when they were praying, "Lord, do not hear their prayers!" If they said, "Lord, save his scull" he cried, "Lord, damn my scull" often adding, "My damnation is sealed, and I long to be in hell!" In this way he continued, sometimes better and sometimes worse, till he died. He was frequently visited by his deistical brethren during his illness, who would fain have persuaded the public he was out of his senses, which was by no means the ease. The writer of this account saw the unhappy man once, but never desired to see him again. Mr. Rhodes justly said he was as full of the devil as- he could hold.

(Simpson's "Plea for religion.")

Earth has not recognized her King; but heaven has borne witness to Him, and now hell must bear its witness too. But what could have been the motive to this testimony, thus borne? It is strange that the evil spirit should, without compulsion, proclaim to the world the presence in the midst of it of the Holy One of God, of Him who should thus bring all the unholy, on which he battened, and by which he lived, to an end. Might we not rather expect that he should have denied, or sought to obscure, the glory of Christ's person? It cannot be replied that this was an unwilling confession to the truth, forcibly extorted by Christ's superior power, seeing that it displeased Him in whose favour it professed to be borne, and this so much that He at once stopped the mouth of the utterer. It remains, then, either to understand this as the cry of abject and servile fear, that with fawning and flatteries would fain avert from itself the doom which, with Christ's presence in the world, must evidently be near; or else to regard this testimony as intended only to injure the estimation of Him in whose behalf it was rendered. There was hope that the truth itself might be brought into suspicion and discredit, thus receiving attestation from the spirit of lies; and these confessions of Jesus as the Christ may have been meant to traverse and mar His work. The fact that Christ would not allow the testimony goes some way to make this the preferable explanation. Observe it is not here as elsewhere, "The Lord rebuke thee," but He rebukes in His own name and by His own authority.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I. HIS PREACHING — "He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His Word was with power."

1. Observe the place — Capernaum.

2. The season — "The Sabbath days." Not that He forebore on other days; His lips always "dropped like an honey-comb."

3. Then the impression.

II. LET US PASS FROM HIS TEACHING TO HIS MIRACLE.

1. Let us glance at the subject of this miracle. It was "a man who was possessed of a spirit of an unclean devil." Satan has much to do in the synagogue — much more than in many other places. In Macgowan's "Dialogues of Devils" there is this relation. Two infernal spirits having met, one of them very warm and weary, and the other cool and lively; after a little explanation it was found that he who was cool and lively, had been at the playhouse where he had nothing to do, where they were all with him, where they were all of one mind, all doing his work: whereas the other who was warm and weary, said, "I have been at a place of worship, and I had much to do there; to make some sleep; to induce some to hear for others instead of themselves; to lead the thoughts of some, like the fool's eye, unto the ends of the earth; to pick up as fast as I could the seed which was sown in the heart; and to turn away the point of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, lest it should pierce even to the dividing of soul and body, and of the joints and marrow, and be a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." I hope, none of you employ him thus.(1) First, aversion. "Let us alone" — as it is in the margin, — "away"; be off. Satan wished to have nothing to do with Christ.(2) Then it expressed fear — "Art Thou come to destroy us?"(3) It expressed commendation — " I know Thee, who Thou art, the Holy One of God.Here, you see, the devil not only believed much, but talked well.

2. Let us look at the Author of this miracle, and we shall see how the enemy of souls is under the dominion of the Lord Jesus; that though an adversary, yet he is restrained, he is chained.

3. Then, as to the spectators — " They were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a Word is this l for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out." Oh! if they had but improved as well as admired!

III. THEN HERE IS HIS FALSE — "And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about." Who does not rejoice in this spread of His fame? Who does not wish His fame everywhere spread abroad? Gratitude requires you to be thus employed. For benevolence requires you to be thus employed, Many are perishing; and they are perishing for lack of knowledge, and the knowledge of Him; for "to know Him is eternal life."

(W. Jay.)

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