Jesus began his ministry preaching in Galilee. Mark wrote that Jesus proclaimed the gospel of God saying “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel”. (Mark 1:14)
After declaring himself to be the Messiah at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus continued teaching and preaching. He went to another town in Galilee, Capernaum. This town was located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was the home of several of the apostles, notably the fishermen.
We see again that Jesus went to the synagogue and was allowed to teach. (31) He astonished the congregation with this teaching. This was partly due to his knowledge of the scripture and his wisdom in interpretation. But it was also a matter of style. The rabbis interpreted scripture to their congregations by citing famous rabbis. Jesus, however, taught with authority. He taught what the scripture meant, needing no other authority, since he was the author of it.
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us all scripture was “breathed out” by God. 2 Peter 1:21 says no prophecy was made up by men, by men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
While Jesus was teaching, there was an outbreak of demonic activity. Satan constantly tried to derail the coming of the kingdom of God during Jesus’ ministry. On this occasion, the demon influenced a man to disrupt the teaching by crying out and taunting Jesus.
The demon possessed man said “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God.” It is as if the demon could not tolerate Jesus’ teaching any longer, so he had this outburst. Certainly, if Jesus was teaching about his bringing in God’s kingdom, you could understand that the demon would hate that since he belonged to the kingdom of the one who rebelled against God’s rule. That is why he says “have you come to destroy us?”, for God’s kingdom will result in the destruction of Satan’s kingdom.
The answer to the demon’s question is “yes”. John later wrote: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”. (1 John 3:8)
Notice that the demon knows exactly who Jesus is. He knows who he is as a man, for he calls him “Jesus of Nazareth”. Probably everyone in the synagogue knew that, as Jesus had become locally famous for his preaching.
But the demon also knew who Jesus was in his divinity. He called him “the Holy One of God”. The demon was once an angel in heaven. He knew who God was, the triune God, and thus recognized Jesus as God and as the Son, sent by the Father to save people and defeat Satan.
Jesus showed his authority over Satan by demonstrating his authority over the demon. Remember, he later said “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. (Matthew 28:18) He rebuked him, ordering him to be silent. (35) He did this because he did not want the testimony of demons. Later in his ministry, the Pharisees would in fact accuse him of driving out demons by the power of Satan. Yet, it is sad that demons acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God while humans continued to reject him.
After silencing him, Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the man and he did. Jesus, as God, is sovereign over Satan and his demons. As we saw in our study of Revelation, he will one day cast Satan and all of his demons into hell so that they may never interfere with God’s people again.
This made quite an impression on the congregation. They marveled at his authority and power to command “unclean spirits” or demons. (36) They told the story to others and it spread throughout the region.
By telling us this story, Luke shows us also that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has power over Satan. This shows us the beginning of the fulfillment of a word of God spoke thousands of years before. After Satan, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve, God told him that Eve’s offspring would bruise or crush his head. (Genesis 3:15) Jesus is that offspring, as Luke showed by tracing Jesus’s genealogy all the way back to Adam.
After the events of the synagogue, Jesus went to Simon’s house. He is the one we know as Peter, one of the apostles. So we see that Peter lived in Capernaum. There Jesus healed Simon’s mother in law of a high fever and whatever illness caused the fever. She was, as in all of Jesus’ healings, instantly and completely healed. She got up from bed well and started serving them, no doubt preparing a meal.
The news of this healing must have gotten around also, because people brought their sick family and friends to the house and Jesus healed everyone of them.
And so in this story, Luke shows us that Jesus not only rules over the spiritual realm, but the physical. He who created the human body is sovereign over it and can heal it of any disease if he chooses to do so.
There is one other thing to note here. Both of these events occurred on the Sabbath. The Sabbath ran from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. That is why the people waited until the sun was setting on Saturday to bring the sick to Jesus. (40) They were not supposed to travel on the Sabbath.
Jesus cast out demons and he healed bodies on the Sabbath. No one objected to it at that time, but later the Pharisees will object to Jesus doing these things on the Sabbath because you were not supposed to do any work on the Sabbath. But Jesus showed that ministry to make things better for men and women did not violate the Sabbath, which was made for the benefit of men and women.
Jesus went from Capernaum to preach in other places. In contrast to the people of Jesus’ home town (Nazareth), these people wanted Jesus to stay with them. But Jesus said he had to preach the gospel in other towns.
Jesus’ ministry set the course for future ministries. Paul also went from town to town. He preached first in the synagogue, as Jesus did. Afterward, he preached to the Gentiles. Jesus modeled the great commission. He did not stay where it was comfortable and where he was well received. Rather, he kept moving, preaching the good news of the kingdom in many places.
It is what he calls us, the church, to do also.
We can do that because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.