"When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to Him. One by one He placed His hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, 'Son of God! You're the Son of God!' But He shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew Him to be the Messiah." Luke 4:40-41 (The Message).
After the initial excitement of this new prophet who said and did out-of-this-world things, they all settled into a routine. They dutifully waited until after sunset, when the Sabbath was over, before they brought their ailing friends and relatives to Him for a touch and a word.
Don't you love the "one by one" bit? He didn't run a mass healing campaign. 'Everyone who is sick, come to the front. Now pray a healing prayer.' He touched them, one by one. I can imagine that, in those few moments, when He placed His hand on a fevered brow, a diseased limb, or an aching belly, the word that He spoke was a tender expression of love, of kindness and reassurance. God was there and He was showing His people just how big His heart of compassion was for them.
Deep into the night they came, patiently waiting their turn for the Master's touch, with a bubble of expectant excitement inside. They knew that tonight, when they put their heads down to sleep, they would be free of aches and pains and fever, and they would wake to a brand new day.
"He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking for Him and, when they found Him, clung to Him so He couldn't go on. He told them, 'don’t you realise that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God's kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?’ Meanwhile He continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee." Luke 4:42-44 (The Message).
A strange way to respond to a successful healing campaign, wasn't it? At the height of success and popularity, He goes missing! Leaves town! Escapes into the country! Was Jesus suffering from "burn out"? Already? His ministry had only just started and He couldn't take the pace?
Far from it! He knew that His commission was far bigger than a local Capernaum success campaign. He had a message to deliver and work to do that extended over the entire nation, not just to a little pocket of people in Capernaum. Excited and happy as they were, He had to leave them and move on because others needed His message and His ministry.
So what was He actually doing? If He was not running a healing campaign, what was His purpose? Did He come to tell them that, if they accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, they would go to heaven when they died? Was that the sole purpose for His coming? The way the gospel is presented from many pulpits today, that might be what we think He came to do - to die on the cross so that we can go to heaven! Really!
Jesus was always about God's kingdom. For too long the Liar and Usurper had held sway over the people and they were living with the result -- emotional pain, physical distress, social and political upheaval. That was not God's way. Jesus came to show and tell the real story about God's rule. Get back under His rule, follow His way and things will be very different.
There was one major obstacle to becoming a part of His restoration plan -- sin -- the big barrier between God and man. But Jesus came to deal with that as well so that there would be nothing to stop people from returning to the Father and coming back under His rule -- right in the heart of enemy territory.
But everyone needed to know, not just Nazareth -- and they didn't want to know -- and Capernaum -- and they couldn't get enough. Everyone, everywhere, so they could choose.
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