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The Display of Jesus' Spiritual Authority

January 21, 2018 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Authority of Christ Verse: Luke 4:31–4:37

“The Display of Jesus’ Spiritual Authority”

Luke 4:31-37

Theme: Jesus has the power & authority to deliver any sinner from any sin.

I. The Interest in the Gospel – 4:31-32

A. The Announcement of the Truth – v. 31

  • Jesus persists in His burden to preach the Gospel to people – a relentless pursuit.
  • Luke tells us that “He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee …”
  1. Capernaum was Jesus’ adopted “hometown” as Nazareth had clearly rejected Him.
  2. It was an important city (with a Roman centurion and a detachment of soldiers permanently stationed there – Matthew 8:5; and it possessed it’s own synagogue) and the residents knew it – cp. Luke 10:15
  3. It had been the place where Peter, Andrew, and Matthew all lived – cp. Mark 1:29, Matthew 9:1, 9.
  • His activity centered on the fact that “… He was teaching them on the Sabbath.”
  • This was Jesus’ constant passion – whenever people gathered for the purpose of searching the Scriptures, He was always there – as was His custom – cp. Luke 4:16
  • We should assume that the message that He delivered in Capernaum was similar to the message that He delivered in Nazareth – that the Messiah had come to alleviate the guilty, enslaved, spiritually blind, and oppressed sinners who would repent and believe.
  • Repentance was always at the core of Jesus teaching as He presented the presence of the Kingdom of God – cp. Luke 4:43; 8:1.

B. The Amazement at the Truth – v. 32

  • Jesus didn’t teach like other teachers – He taught without feeling the need to corroborate what He said based on what other teachers were saying.
  • Rather, He taught expositionally – concerning Himself with what God said – “… and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.”
  • The word “amazed” [ἐκπλήσσω] – describes being “shocked, or overwhelmed” by something; similar to cold water being thrown into the face unexpectedly.
  • The people who Jesus taught were completed astounded by what He was telling them about Himself and the Kingdom of God
  • Part of the reason, in addition to the confrontation of their sin and the astounding ramifications, is that He taught with “authority” [ἐξουσία] – referring to having complete command or power over what He was teaching – as though it was His own Word – cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.


  • Why How is Jesus’ weekly priority of assembly around Scripture relevant to your weekly activity?
  • What makes Scripture so “amazing” to you?
  • How does the authority of the Gospel interest you on a daily basis?

II. The Irresistibility of the Gospel – 4:33-35

A. The Disclosure of Wickedness – v. 33

  • We are introduced to a nuisance that Jesus had to put up with repeatedly during His earthly ministry – the direct opposition by demonic spirits.
  • Before we get too far into this subject, it is necessary to point out several issues:
  1. Demons are NOT to be a major interest of the believer; it is a rabbit hole of distraction for us who ought to be focused on the glories of Jesus, not the defilements of demons.
  2. Demons attempted to thwart the ministry of Jesus and to a lesser degree the ministry of the Apostles but are not presently a focus for believers.
  3. There are no instructions in any of the epistles for believers to cast out demons, bind demons, speak to demons, or focus on demons.
  4. It is not possible for a believer to ever be “demon possessed” as we possess the indwelling Holy Spirit – cp. 2 Corinthians 6:15-16; Colossians 1:13; 1 John 4:4.
  5. Instead of concerning oneself as to whether they have a demon, one ought to be concerned whether or not they have Christ – cp. Romans 8:37.
  • Nevertheless, when Jesus so powerfully preached the Gospel to those in Capernaum, we are told that “in the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice …”
  • “cried out” [ἀνακράζω] is the expression of a frightened person – cp. Mark 6:49
  • It is as though this demon had seen a ghost!!
  • The truth proclaimed by Jesus was completely incompatible with the “unclean demon” – [ἀκάθαρτος] a reference to the moral impurity and corruption of evil spirits.
  • The incompatibility of this demon with the power of the truth was more than the demon could handle – he couldn’t remain covert any longer and impulsively reacted to what Jesus was saying.
  • The shining of the Light of truth exposed the wickedness and caused a reaction – cp. John 3:20.

B. The Defiance by Wickedness – v. 34a

  • The demon clearly reacts defiantly to Jesus – “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?”
  • The demon is declaring by means of this question that it and Jesus have nothing in common, no common interest.
  • It is asserting that Jesus ought to mind His own business and leave the demon alone.
  • We see from this outburst that “demons would rather stay hidden as they sit in religious services. That is their disguise as “angels of light,” and they prefer not to blow their cover.”[1]
  • When in the presence of Jesus, demons couldn’t remain covert as they prefer to do and became defiant – accusing Jesus of intruding into anonymity; essentially saying that Jesus was “meddling.”

C. The Disturbance of Wickedness – v. 34b

  • As they are exposed and become defiant, they are displaying their great fear of Jesus – “Have you come to destroy us?”
  • Here the demon demonstrates that it understands Jesus purpose of “destroying the works of the devil” – cp. 1 John 3:8
  • God had already confined some demons to the “abyss” until such a time as they would be cast into the Lake of Fire – cp. Jude 6; Matthew 25:41.
  • This demon was disturbed that its time had come because it realized who was standing before it – “I know who You are – the Holy One of God!”
  • If being in the presence of God causes fear in the hearts of God’s people, how much more intense must it be for the wicked?

D. The Displacement of Wickedness – v. 35

  • Jesus consistently stopped the mouths of demons who would declare His identity – essentially since they are unworthy to “testify” of Him – “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him!’”
  • There were not special formulas or words that were required to persuade the demon to cooperate.
  • Its rebellion against God stopped immediately upon the command of the Word of God out of the mouth of Jesus – it obeyed: “and when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.”
  • Whatever agenda the demon had in the life of this man was over – Jesus had thwarted the diabolical work that was already underway.
  • In a similar way, the authority of Jesus extends to delivering us from all forms of evil – not merely demonic.
  1. It is critical for us to understand that demons are not the cause of all our struggle with sin.
  2. Yet if Jesus is able to thwart the stubborn entrenchment of a demon, why would we think that He is unable to help us find freedom of all sin?


  • What causes the greatest resistance to the Gospel?
  • How does God’s holiness cause discomfort to those opposed to Him?
  • In what way does Jesus’ authority to control even a demon encourage you with reference to your sin?

III. The Importance of the Gospel - 4:36-37

A. The Curiosity of the Complacent - v. 36

  • We are told that the impact of this miracle by Jesus was that “amazement came upon them all …”
  • They had at first been “amazed” at His teaching because of the authority with which He taught, now they were filled with “amazement” at what He did.
  • This is a different word for “amazement” [θάμβος] – “a state of astonishment brought on by exposure to an unusual event” caused by deity.
  • They realized that God had done something miraculous in this – “and they began talking with one another saying, ‘What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.’”
  • They couldn’t figure out the meaning of such an unprecedented event – they had never heard of such a thing and they were attempting to reconcile the Gospel message and this exertion of power over wickedness – something that they had never experienced personally as they struggled under the formalism and legalism of self-righteousness.

B. The Circulation of the Message – v. 37

  • The news about what had happened, and the authority of Jesus, spread like wildfire throughout the district – “And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.”
  • The Gospel is about the glory that God receives for delivering sinners from their sin through the power of the work of Jesus Christ.
  • This is the message of the great hymn written by Martin Luther in “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” –

The Prince of Darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo, his doom is sure;

One little word shall fell him.


  • What causes us to lose our “amazement” at the power and authority of the Gospel?
  • Why would unbelieving people spread news about Jesus when believing people like us are often reticent to do so?
  • Why was attention drawn to His message when the miracle of exorcism seems to have been the miracle?


[1] MacArthur, p. 285