Friday of Epiphany IV – Luke 4:31-44

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.

A wise man once told me that I should never pledge obedience to a man or woman who is not personally obedient to someone. If you will obey someone, make sure they also know how to be obedient. It was good advice. I did not heed it. That came back to bite me hard, and I regret being obedient to a certain man. He deceived me and used my obedience for his own, self-serving ends.

Three times in this passage Jesus speaks commands and is obeyed: The demon in the synagogue, the fever afflicting Peter’s mother-in-law, and the subsequent group of demons who are exorcized later that evening. Jesus demands obedience and will have it, whether it is willingly or unwillingly given. Surely, the demons obeyed him unwillingly. The final paragraph of this passage is important. Jesus, out in a desolate place, is praying. His disciples find him and urge him to return to Capernaum. They want to set up a sort of health clinic there. Jesus refuses. He looks over the desolate hill on which he stands and sees the houses of the next village over. He is obedient Himself, you see. The Father has laid upon Him a mission and He also must obey. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10 that every knee in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow in obedience before Jesus. Listen and obey Him with confidence today. He knows obedience and has obeyed far more fully than you or I shall ever do. He has walked up Golgatha’s brutal hill, learning obedience (Hebrews 5:8) when he laid down his life for all.

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