Luke 4:31-44 Capernaum and Authority

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “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.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 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!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Capernaum and Authority

We encourage distrust of authority in such a way that our social structures are undermined.  Undermined social structures don’t stand.  Our alternative is to set up a social structure of anarchy.  We become disassociated from each other and self-referential.  We think we ‘know’ only when we know it for ourselves, we are skeptical if someone else tells us.

This is not just a problem for the modern world.  Jewish people in Jesus’ time had even more reasons to distrust authority than current day western democracies.  They were occupied by foreign legions, they were ruled by puppet kings, they were taxed by corrupt officials, and their religious system was strict and legalistic.  Jesus comes into that environment and does great good accompanied by a great message.  His plan for redemption is total.  He is a social reformer as well as a religious reformer.  He takes care of illness and he brings a new voice to the political sphere.  Some people today separate the religious and the political, but if you stir up the people in some way it is a political move whether it follows established forms of government or questions them.  Jesus is calling people back to the rule of God in their hearts.  He is doing so with powerful acts of liberation.  He is freeing their bodies from sin and he is freeing their minds from sin.

We can learn from this to speak God’s truth powerfully and to bring redemption wherever we have opportunity.  We must come close to God to be a channel for his redemption of people socially, bodily, spiritually and emotionally.  I pray that God will continue to work in me so that I can be an agent of his grace to others.


Dear God, let me be an agent of redemption to those around me.  Let me not only speak words of truth but be an agent for the good.  Let me be healed in mind, body and soul so that I can be a clear conduit for your goodness to others.


  1. Where is Jesus?
  2. Why is he there?
  3. How are his actions and his words communicating the same message?
  4. How are people around you flourishing because of your presence?
  5. How could you further develop yourself as an agent of God for the good of others?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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