When Christ was expelled Nazareth, he came to Capernaum, another city of Galilee. The account we have in these verses of his preaching and miracles there we had before, Mark 1:21 Observe,
I. His preaching: He taught them on the sabbath days, Luke 4:31. In hearing the word preached, as an ordinance of God, we worship God, and it is a proper work for sabbath days. Christ’s preaching much affected the people (Luke 4:32); they were astonished at his doctrine, there was weight in every word he said, and admirable discoveries were made to them by it. The doctrine itself was astonishing, and not only as it came from one that had not had a liberal education. His word was with power; there was a commanding force in it, and a working power went along with it to the conscience of men. The doctrine Paul preached hereby proved itself to be of God, that it came in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
II. His miracles. Of these we have here,
1. Two particularly specified, showing Christ to be,
(1.) A controller and conqueror of Satan, in the world of mankind, and in the souls of people, by his power to cast him out of the bodies of those he had taken possession of; for for this purpose was he manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Observe, [1.] The devil is an unclean spirit, his nature directly contrary to that of the pure and holy God, and degenerated from what it was at first. [2.] This unclean spirit works in the children of men; in the souls of many, as then in men’s bodies. [3.] It is possible that those who are very much under the power and working of Satan may yet be found in the synagogue, among the worshippers of God. [4.] Even the devils know and believe that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God, is sent of God, and is a Holy One. [5.] They believe and tremble. This unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, under a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and apprehensive that Christ was now come to destroy him. Unclean spirits are subject to continual frights. [6.] The devils have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, nor desire to have any thing to do with him; for he took not on him the nature of angels. [7.] Christ has the devil under check: He rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace; and this word he spoke with power; phimotheti—Be muzzled, Christ did not only enjoin him silence, but stopped his mouth, and forced him to be silent against his will. [8.] In the breaking of Satan’s power, both the enemy that is conquered shows his malice, and Christ, the conqueror, shows his over-ruling grace. Here, First, The devil showed what he would have done, when he threw the man in the midst, with force and fury, as if he would have dashed him to pieces. But, Secondly, Christ showed what a power he had over him, in that he not only forced him to leave him, but to leave him without so much as hurting him, without giving him a parting blow, a parting gripe. Whom Satan cannot destroy, he will do all the hurt he can to; but this is a comfort, he can harm them no further than Christ permits; nay, he shall not do them any real harm. He came out, and hurt him not; that is, the poor man was perfectly well in an instant, though the devil left him with so much rage that all that were present thought he had torn him to pieces. [9.] Christ’s power over devils was universally acknowledged and adored, Luke 4:36. No one doubted the truth of the miracle; it was evident beyond contradiction, nor was any thing suggested to diminish the glory of it, for they were all amazed, saying, What a word is this! They that pretended to cast out devils did it with abundance of charms and spells, to pacify the devil, and lull him asleep, as it were; but Christ commanded them with authority and power, which they could not gainsay or resist. Even the prince of the power of the air is his vassal, and trembles before him. [10.] This, as much as any thing, gained Christ a reputation, and spread his fame. This instance of his power, which many now-a-days make light of, was then, by them that were eye-witnesses of it (and those no fools either, but men of penetration), magnified, and was looked upon as greatly magnifying him (Luke 4:37); upon the account of this, the fame of him went out, more than ever, into every place of the country round about. Our Lord Jesus, when he set out at first in his public ministry, was greatly talked of, more than afterwards, when people’s admiration wore off with the novelty of the thing.
(2.) Christ showed himself to be a healer of diseases. In the former, he struck at the root of man’s misery, which was Satan’s enmity, the origin of all the mischief: in this, he strikes at one of the most spreading branches of it, one of the most common calamities of human life, and that is bodily diseases, which came in with sin, are the most common and sensible corrections for it in this life, and contribute as much as any thing towards the making of our few days full of trouble. These our Lord Jesus came to take away the sting of, and, as an indication of that intention, when he was on earth, chose to confirm his doctrine by such miracles, mostly, as took away the diseases themselves. Of all bodily diseases none are more common or fatal to grown people than fevers; these come suddenly, and suddenly cut off the number of men’s months in the midst; they are sometimes epidemical, and slay their thousands in a little time. Now here we have Christ’s curing a fever with a word’s speaking; the place was in Simon’s house, his patient was Simon’s wife’s mother, Luke 4:38, 39. Observe, [1.] Christ is a guest that will pay well for his entertainment; those that bid him welcome into their hearts and houses shall be no losers by him; he comes with healing. [2.] Even families that Christ visits may be visited with sickness. Houses that are blessed with his distinguishing favours are liable to the common calamities of this life. Simon’s wife’s mother was ill of a fever. Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. [3.] Even good people may sometimes be exercised with the sharpest afflictions, more grievous than others: She was taken with a great fever, very acute, and high, and threatening; perhaps it seized her head, and made her delirious. The most gentle fevers may by degrees prove dangerous; but this was at first a great fever. [4.] No age can exempt from diseases. It is probable that Peter’s mother-in-law was in years, and yet in a fever. [5.] When our relations are sick, we ought to apply ourselves to Christ, by faith and prayer, on their account: They besought him for her; and there is a particular promise that the prayer of faith shall benefit the sick. [6.] Christ has a tender concern for his people when they are in sickness and distress: He stood over her, as one concerned for her, and compassionating her case. [7.] Christ had, and still has, a sovereign power over bodily diseases: He rebuked the fever, and with a word’s speaking commanded it away, and it left her. He saith to diseases, Go, and they go; Come, and they come; and can still rebuke fevers, even great fevers. [8.] This proves Christ’s cures to be miraculous, that they were done in an instant: Immediately she arose. [9.] Where Christ gives a new life, in recovery from sickness, he designs and expects that it should be a new life indeed, spent more than ever in his service, to his glory. If distempers be rebuked, and we arise from a bed of sickness, we must set ourselves to minister to Jesus Christ. [10.] Those that minister to Christ must be ready to minister to all that are his for his sake: She ministered to them, not only to him that had cured her, but to them that had besought him for her. We must study to be grateful to those that have prayed for us.
2. A general account given by wholesale of many other miracles of the same kind, which Christ did.
(1.) He cured many that were diseased, even all without exception that made their application to him, and it was when the sun was setting (Luke 4:40); in the evening of that sabbath day which he had spent in the synagogue. Note, It is good to do a full sabbath day’s work, to abound in the work of the day, in some good work or other, even till sun-set; as those that call the sabbath, and the business of it, a delight. Observe, He cured all that were sick, poor as well as rich, and though they were sick of divers diseases; so that there was no room to suspect that he had only a specific for some one disease. He had a remedy for every malady. The sign he used in healing was laying his hands on the sick; not lifting up his hands for them, for he healed as having authority. He healed by his own power. And thus he would put honour upon that sign which was afterwards used in conferring the Holy Ghost.
(2.) He cast the devil out of many that were possessed, Luke 4:41. Confessions were extorted from the demoniacs. They said, Thou art Christ the Son of God, but they said it crying with rage and indignation; it was a confession upon the rack, and therefore was not admitted in evidence. Christ rebuked them, and did not suffer them to say that they knew him to be the Christ, that it might appear, beyond all contradiction, that he had obtained a conquest over them, and not made a compact with them.
3. Here is his removal from Capernaum, Luke 4:42, 43.
(1.) He retired for awhile into a place of solitude. It was but a little while that he allowed himself for sleep; not only because a little served him, but because he was content with a little, and never indulged himself in ease; but, when it was day, he went into a desert place, not to live constantly like a hermit, but to be sometimes alone with God, as even those should be, and contrive to be, that are most engaged in public work, or else their work will go on but poorly, and they will find themselves never less alone than when thus alone.
(2.) He returned again to the places of concourse and to the work he had to do there. Though a desert place may be a convenient retreat, yet it is not a convenient residence, because we were not sent into this world to live to ourselves, no, not to the best part of ourselves only, but to glorify God and do good in our generation. [1.] He was earnestly solicited to stay at Capernaum. The people were exceedingly fond of him; I doubt, more because he had healed their sick than because he had preached repentance to them. They sought him, enquired which way he went; and, though it was in a desert place, they came unto him. A desert is no desert if we be with Christ there. They detained him that he should not depart from them, so that if he would go it should not be for want of invitation. His old neighbours at Nazareth had driven him from them, but his new acquaintances at Capernaum were very importunate for his continuance with them. Note, It ought not to discourage the ministers of Christ that some reject them, for they will meet with others that will welcome them and their message. [2.] He chose rather to diffuse the light of his gospel to many places than to fix it to one, that no one might pretend to be a mother-church to the rest. Though he was welcome at Capernaum, and had done abundance of good there, yet he is sent to preach the gospel to other cities also; and Capernaum must not insist upon his stay there. They that enjoy the benefit of the gospel must be willing that others also should share in that benefit, and not covet the monopoly of it; and those ministers who are not driven from one place may yet be drawn to another by a prospect of greater usefulness. Christ, though he preached not in vain in the synagogue at Capernaum, yet would not be tied to that, but preached in the synagogues of Galilee, Luke 4:44. Bonum est sui diffusivum—What is good is self-diffusive. It is well for us that our Lord Jesus has not tied himself to any one place or people, but, wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he will be in the midst of them: and even in Galilee of the Gentiles his special presence is in the Christian synagogues.