Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Luke 4:31–44

I think it’s interesting here, as we hear of the first miracles that Luke relates, to notice that Luke started with the preaching. All the other gospels start with calling of disciples. But Luke starts with the word. And it was received badly in his hometown (yesterday’s selection), and received well in Capernaum.

What is this authority with which Jesus spoke? A special tone of voice, or a ringing in the ears that persisted? Because we know, as John says, that his authority came not from men but from God. It is not because Jesus has some special validation from any human wisdom or power or religious structure that his words carry authority. Unlike John, it is not signaled by miracles. For John, the miracles are signs of Jesus authority intended to provoke a faithful response. But Luke puts the miracles second and the preaching first.

The authority had then, some note, some resonance, some divine response within the hearers. They recognized it as having authority, and the only source which there could have been for that recognition was the Holy Spirit in their hearts. At the end, Luke relates the two on the road to Emmaus, and after they experience Jesus among them, they say, “Did not our hearts burn within us?” That inward fire, burning, is the Holy Spirit, which recognizes the words of Jesus. In virtue of this we know that it is the word of God being spoken.

And then, only then the miracles happen. If it is true that Luke’s gospel is a re-edit of Mark’s, then Luke is saying something quite important by sticking the little preaching bit in first here. The miracles of healing here also involve preaching. Jesus rebukes the demon, rebukes the fever of Simon’s mother, and so forth. He preaches even to the demons, this time a word of command and authority. And why do the demons leave? Because he has some special power of exorcism? Not quite. The demons leave because they too recognize him: “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” Notice that in Mark’s telling, Jesus rebukes the demon, but not Simon’s mother’s fever.

So this is what authoritative preaching is: it is preaching which resonates in the hearer with the Spirit of God already present in them. It is recognized as the word of God because God already dwells in the hearer. And then Jesus goes to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also.” And only then does he start calling his first disciples.

Index of Comments on Scripture

1 comment:

hook said...

Hi Thomas.

I happened across your blog while searching for comments on Jesus' authority from the gospel of Luke, for my own blog: ntreadthrough.blogspot.com. I was curious if other folks had organized the passages that follow Jesus' preaching using authority as an organizational theme. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary does so.)

Regarding your comment about miracles and preaching, and preaching and the calling of disciples. Technically, Mark puts the preaching first, too (Mark 1:14,15). He just doesn't give the details -- he's in CNN Headline News mode. Matthew, too, declares Jesus' preaching before the call of the disciples (Matt. 4:17).

But you're right that Luke gives us the details of Jesus' preaching, and the reaction of the people, which helps us understand the points you're making.

Hope to stop by again soon.