Epiphany 4 – “The Wanted Him To Stay” – Luke 4:31-43 – 1/31/16

“And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee…” And He did incredible things. He set a man free from his demon and broke a woman’s high fever and “all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him and he laid his hands on everyone of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many…”

And when it was time for Him to go, “…the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them…”

They wanted Him to stay. And who wouldn’t? A new doctor had come to their town and what a doctor he was. You name it and He could fix it. And it was the way that He did it that was so amazing. All the other traveling medicine men wanted their patients to buy their special potions or come in for some tests or see another specialist. But this One just REBUKED the demons and REBUKED the fever and REBUKED the diseases and it was all better.

It incredible, awesome and every extreme adjective you can think of. And they were all ‘astonished,’ and ‘amazed’ and ‘blown away.’ But then, all too soon, He announced He was moving on.

Maybe they wondered if maybe they turned Him off by overburdening Him with all their problems. What kind of impression must He have had of them with so much sickness and disease not to mention the demons. “And demons also came out of MANY.”

What kind of impression must He have had of them? They would definitely have to get the chamber of commerce to work on creating a better public image if they wanted to attract and keep good doctors like this one in the future.

THEY TRIED TO PREVENT HIM FROM LEAVING. I wonder how they did that. Did they promise never to send Him any more than 5 patients a day and no weekend call and a free membership at the country club? They didn’t know where He was headed and what He had come into the world to do.

What would you think about Jesus if you took out the cross and the resurrection? If Jesus came to this town and did here what He did there, and we didn’t know about what He was going to do on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We wouldn’t want Him to go either. We’d try to keep Him all for ourselves. Because, Lord knows, we’ve got more than our share of sicknesses and diseases and who knows how many demons. If we had Jesus in our town, He could turn this place into a virtual heaven on earth.

BUT WE KNOW. We know that He came to do more than this. We know that He is “Emmanuel,” “God with us.” The same One who spoke in the beginning, “let there be…” “And it was so.”

We know that He has not come to be our personal physician or counselor, but for ALL people, in EVERY place, for ALL time to get at the underlying and root cause of ALL sickness and ALL disease and ALL of the demons that possess us.

And we know that He does this by His cross and grave and His bursting the grave, FOR US MEN AND FOR OUR SALVATION, and ‘salvation’ takes us from this world of sickness and disease and demons into the ‘new creation’ where ALL sickness is gone and ALL diseases have been eradicated and ALL demons have been locked away in hell, never to terrorize us again.

And so, if it were us, we would say, ‘thank you Jesus for healing my sickness and curing my disease and setting me free of my demons, but we want you to go, because unless you go to Your cross and die and arise from your tomb and defeat my demons and overcome my death, my healing and my freedom is only temporary. My joy is only for the moment.

‘What I really want is a healing that is permanent and a freedom that is perfect and a real life that is forever. And I know that only You can give that to me because only You can take away my sin and the sin of the whole world, once and for all.’

But they didn’t know this. How could they? We need to excuse them for wanting to keep Jesus all to themselves. All that they saw was ‘miracle worker’ and they thought that was a good as it gets. They didn’t see SON OF GOD who comes to be SUFFERING SERVANT to lay down His life for the sin of the world and take it up again for the life of the world. So, who can blame them?

You can’t blame them… but they still missed it. They missed the fact that this was just a ‘sign,’ just an appetizer before the main course and the main course is so good that you’re going to forget there ever was an appetizer.

But what about us? WE KNOW. So what’s our excuse for getting mad at Jesus because He didn’t heal my sickness or cure my disease or set me free from my demons? Have we forgotten that He has brought me into the KINGDOM OF GOD and given me ALL THINGS and that if He doesn’t ‘FIX’ me now it is only because He is using my illness or my disease or my demons to draw me closer and closer to Him in trust and faith and it’s all for my ‘GOOD’?

To the people in Capernaum Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” As much as He loves them, His mission is not just the ‘kingdom of Capernaum,’ but the “kingdom of God,” which includes Capernaum.

So, it is true that Jesus has come into the world with a mission to SAVE THE WORLD. It’s not just about me and my little world and my particular troubles. But it’s just as true that His mission to SAVE THE WORLD means nothing unless He comes to save individual men and women, boys and girls who live in the ‘world.’

There was an INDIVIDUAL MAN in the Synagogue where Jesus was preaching who had a demon. There was an INDIVIDUAL WOMAN with a high fever to whom He made a house call. A whole line of people formed, each and INDIVIDUAL with his or her particular illness or demon and Luke is careful to note that “he laid his hand on every one of them and healed them.” Not collectively, en-masse, as a group, because it would be so much more efficient that way. But one at a time, individually, personally, as though it were all about each one of them, which it was.

Just the way that He comes to YOU, individually, personally, in your baptism,
 calling YOU by YOUR name, giving YOU His name,
 putting YOUR sinful life to death in His body and washing all of YOUR particular and personal sins away in His blood,
 putting YOU into His very body and putting His very body into YOU
because it’s all about you.

Because there is no ‘dying for all’ unless He has died for YOU, and there is not such thing as ‘saving the world’ unless He has saved YOU.

But it’s His care for the man in the Synagogue in Capernaum that comes with such detail and grabs our attention this morning. “And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘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.”

The demon knows who Jesus is and why He has come, which is more than the people know. It knows that Jesus’ mission is to destroy the devil and all his works and all his ways and all his demons.

Notice how cleaver the demon thinks it is. It offers Jesus a simple solution to the problem. “Have you come to destroy US?”

He proposes that Jesus destroy it AND the man he lives in as though the two cannot be separated and if one is destroyed the other is also destroyed. “Destroy US.”

Do you see how clever the demon is? Because the demon knows that the destruction of evil is not the only mission that Jesus has come to carry out. It knows that He has also come for the salvation of man – this man in particular. If Jesus DESTROYS US, then He must forfeit part of His mission. In “destroying us” the devil accomplishes his whole purpose which is the failure of God AND the destruction of man.

Jesus must either compromise His holiness and allow the demon to live in the man to preserve the man’s life, or preserve His holiness and destroy the demon, and in doing so destroy the man whom He has come to save.

But Jesus will neither compromise His holiness nor His mission. He is able to distinguish clearly between the man and the demon that possesses him. The demon has no power over Jesus. But Jesus has all power over the demon.

“Be silent! Come out of him.” And the demon cannot stand against the word from the mouth of the HOLY ONE OF GOD. He makes one, last-ditch effort to destroy the man by throwing him on the ground. But then, comes out of him. And Luke is careful to note, “doing him no harm.”

What a sermon. “And they were all amazed and said to one another, ‘what is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’”

How many times do you think He could He have preached the same sermon in the same synagogue to the same people? Every week, men and women, boys and girls, come with their demons and fevers and diseases. Even the same ones whom He had just set free and healed just the previous week, back again, sick again, caught again, captive again, needing to be set free again.

It would be best if He didn’t leave.

Unless of course, if He were to give His Word with all of its power to His servants. And give His servants all of His authority to speak His Word it in the same synagogue, week after week, to the same people, Sabbath after Sabbath, setting them free from their unclean demons over and over again – “as a servant of Christ and by His authority, I forgive you all of your sins.”

“…the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them…” And Jesus said to them, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

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