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“He commands the unclean spirits”

July 24, 2023

Daily Scripture

Luke 4:31-41

31 He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbath. 32 They were astounded at his teaching because he spoke with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Leave us alone! 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.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” Then the demon, throwing the man down before them, came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 They were all astounded and kept saying to one another, “What kind of word is this, that with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and they come out?” 37 And news about him began to reach every place in the region.
38 After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. 39 Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
40 As the sun was setting, all those caring for any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. 41 Moreover, demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

In Jesus’ day, most of today’s medical and psychological insights didn’t exist. Nearly all puzzling ills were called “demon possession” (today we call the symptoms a father reported in Matthew 17:14-18 “epilepsy” *). On the other hand, we know of no reason why epilepsy or mental illness would lead patients to accurately identify Jesus as “the Holy One of God.” Disease or demons, the central reality is the same. Then, and now, humans regularly need physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

  • Verse 40 implied, with broadly inclusive words, that Jesus healed everyone brought to him. First-century people did not distinguish human ailments from one another in the same ways we do. Today, God usually works through people with human training in emotional and physical healing—but it’s the same God at work. What hurt(s) do you bring to Jesus today? Are you open to whatever type(s) of help and healing he provides?
  • In facing demons, Jesus “used the authority he already possessed in himself…. he did the same with ‘ordinary’ diseases, like the raging fever of Simon’s mother-in-law. Luke wants us to accept what this is saying about Jesus…. He was God’s anointed. The Lord’s Spirit was indeed resting on him, as he said at Nazareth, to release the oppressed, to give sight to the blind, to unloose the chains of the prisoners.” ** How can Jesus’ authority offer you greater freedom and well-being?

Lord Jesus, you did not stay comfortable and safe while destructive forces were loose in the world you created. Give me the caring and courage to enlist as one of your servants in working with you to heal those who hurt for any reason. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Katy Nall

Katy Nall

Katy Nall is the Program Director of Missions for Resurrection West. She is a mom of two and loves to be outside in the sunshine, especially if it involves mountains or ocean. She loves hiking, reading, learning, and connecting.

When I was a new mother, I held my baby boy in my arms each night and rocked him to sleep. While I did, I would scroll social media. There was one topic that seemed to repeatedly come my way–family tragedy. My husband called them the “sad baby stories.” One after another they came–a child diagnosed en utero with trisomy 13, an unexplained congenital heart failure in a one year old, a rare cancer that had no cure days before kindergarten. I would deep dive into all of the details about spinal muscle atrophy and secondary drowning and the many ways this precious, precious baby could be lost to me. And I feared. And I cried for those mothers and their children. I clutched my baby close to my chest and tried to will God to keep him safe.

When someone is sick or mentally unwell, we can’t help but be curious about the details. I think we, somewhat naively, assume that if we can just learn enough about something bad, we can avoid it happening to us. If I could just learn about everything bad that might happen to my son, I couldn’t be blindsided. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop non-smokers from developing lung cancer. It doesn’t stop perfectly healthy couples from having a child with a seizure disorder. Despite near constant news, the latest research, and facts being thrown at us day and night for 3+ years, almost 7 million people have died from covid-19. 

In today’s passage, the people were shook. They had never witnessed anything like what Jesus was doing. Verse 37 tells us that reports about him spread throughout the entire region. Capernaum was a village of about 1000 people, and I bet every single one of them had Jesus’ name on their lips in those days–pandemic level coverage!

What would the world look like if we shared the stories of healing? If we spread the details of the good news that, as Christians, is already in our hearts? If instead of fear scrolling, we practiced sharing out loud the ways God has been faithful, even and especially in hardship? What if the reports that spread throughout our region said that miracles (not only physical, but emotionally and spiritually transforming) are happening out of our very own communities? When we do this, we can help battle demons of our own and we invite others to find healing from their demons, too.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* “The [Greek] word rendered epileptic means literally ‘moonstruck’…. ‘Epileptic’ is the preference of [many modern translations]. ‘Epileptic’ may be more accurate as far as modern medical terminology is concerned, yet it does not convey the emotional impact as well as ‘lunatic.’ It may be best to translate: ‘He sometimes goes out of his mind.’” –comment on Matthew 17:15 in Barclay M. Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew. New York: United Bible Societies, 1988, p. 546.
** Wright, N. T., Luke for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone) (p. 51-52). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.