WEIGH UP THE EVIDENCE!
"He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath. They were surprised and impressed -- His teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.
"In the meeting place that day there was a man demonically disturbed. He screamed, 'Ho! What business do you have with us, Jesus? Nazarene! You're the Holy One of God and you've come to destroy us!' Jesus shut him up: 'Quiet! Get out of him!' The demonic spirit threw the man down in front of them all and left. The demon didn't hurt him.
"That set everyone back on their heels, whispering and wondering, "What's going on here? Someone whose words make things happen? Someone who orders demonic spirits to get out and they go?' Jesus was the talk of the town." Luke 4:31-37 (The Message).
Just look what you missed, people of Nazareth!
The citizens of Capernaum were a more receptive lot, it seems. At least they didn't write Jesus off because they thought they knew His pedigree. They saw something more in Him than just the son of Joseph and Mary. They recognised a confidence and an authority in His teaching that set them thinking.
But there was something more than just His words that caused a stir, at least in the spirit world. A demon was there who seemed quite comfortable in the presence of the people of Capernaum until Jesus showed up. This evil spirit occupied a man who, over the years had obviously made space for him in his life by habitually believing his subtle lies and living his dirty life until the demon unobtrusively had taken up residence and begun to control him.
Jesus' presence in the synagogue blew his cover. Speaking through his host, he blurted out, 'Jesus, this is my turf and you are intruding. You might look like an ordinary guy from Nazareth, but I know who you really are -- God's Holy One -- and I can't stand being near you! Is it time for you do us in?"
Jesus didn't answer him. He had no cause for discussion with a demon! His words were terse and commanding: 'Shut up and get out!' That's all. Here was another confrontation with the demonic realm. His victory over the devil in round one had equipped Him to evict the squatters wherever they identified themselves in His presence. His unconditional submission to the Father put Him in position to deal decisively with the opposition.
The residents of Capernaum were unwittingly being confronted with the evidence that they were to weigh up and decide for themselves who this man was and what to do about it. First there were His words -- His teaching that impressed them as authoritative and believable because He seemed to know what He was talking about. Then there was His action -- throwing out a demon they didn't know was there! They had never seen that happen before.
What if the people of His own village had been patient enough to watch and listen? Perhaps they might have been more tolerant of their "village kid", Jesus. Perhaps they would have been convinced that this "son of Joseph and Mary" was actually the Son of God.
And what of us? Jesus is not interested in winning a popularity contest. He had only one question to ask of us, 'Who do you say that I am?' On our answer hangs the direction of our lives. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," brings us into the realm of a partnership with Him to throw out all the "squatters" and set the world back on the course of restoration and eventual perfection.
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