This eventide occurs in a chapter which demonstrates the authority of God’s perfect Servant. In the first eleven verses of the chapter the authority of God’s Servant is Declared’, from verse 1 2 to 34 the authority of God’s Servant is Demonstrated; then from verse 35 to 39 we see whence that authority is Derived. His authority is declared in a twofold way: (a) by Announcement, vv. 1-8; (b) by Anointing, vv. 8-11. Notice that the announcement of His authority is twofold, firstly by the prophecies, vv. 1 -3, and secondly by the prophet, vv. 4-8.
The authority of the Lord Jesus was demonstrated when in the eventide they came to Him with their sick and He healed them all, but that was only one of a series of incidents which demonstrated His authority.
His authority was demonstrated :-
After the Dove, the devil; after the testimony, the testing. “The Spirit driveth him” forth indicates the divine impulse of the Holy Spirit which constrained Him to go forth to the encounter. That encounter took place in a wilderness, so different from that delectable garden where Adam fell. The duration was a full period of testing, forty days. The result was a defeat for the devil and a victory for the Lord. Mark adds two interesting points about the temptation, both omitted by Luke and one (that He was with the wild beasts) omitted by Matthew. Here, then, He is demonstrated not only as Lord over the animal creation, but Lord also over the vast empire of angelic beings, for they ministered unto Him.
Men have now silenced the prophet, v. 14, but they cannot hinder the Word of God. So “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching”. In the summary of His message we have three dominant words of the Christian message:
In response to the Lord’s command, “straightway … they followed him”, v. 18; do we show such prompt obedience? The men whom Jesus called were simple ordinary folk, and not the great of this world ; cf. 1 Cor. 1. 26, 27. They were a few simple fishermen, and yet the work which commenced with them has spread worldwide, and consequently must have been founded by God Himself. They were called when about their daily duties, and time and again God calls men thus. Moses was called while keeping the flocks of Jethro, his father-in-law, Exod. 3. 1 ; David from the sheepfold, Psa. 78. 70; and Elisha while ploughing, 1 Kings 19. 19. Not one of the twelve is recorded as having been called while idle. Simon and Andrew were casting their net, Mark 1. 16; James and John were mending their nets, v. 19; Levi was sitting at the seat of custom, 2. 14. It is busy men whom the Lord calls. He called these busy men to a service for Him, to a task in which they would spend and be spent, some ultimately dying for Him. That call began with a personal relation to Himself; “Come ye after me”, He said, and unhesitatingly they obeyed.
He taught as having “authority”, and they were “astonished”. In Greek, that is a very strong and expressive word. He had come from the carpenter’s shop of Nazareth, and yet He possessed an authority that the scribes did not have for all their dignity of office. It was the authority of His Person, an authority backed up by perfect knowledge. He did not teach at second-hand as the scribes did, neither did He quote decisions of previous teachers. He was His own authority. “Verily, verily, I say unto you” were His words. He announces where others argue. He seeks no support from others’ teaching. He does not even preface His remarks with a “Thus saith the Lord”. There is no need; He is the Lord. He is the Truth. He speaks with the finality of the voice of God Himself.
It was not merely that His Words were authoritative; so, too, were His deeds. Here, in the synagogue at Capernaum, they were forced to admit that “with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him”, v. 27. It was a strange commentary on the spiritual situation in Capernaum that a demoniac was present in their synagogue with no sense of incongruity until confronted by the Lord, and apparently with no desire to be delivered from his affliction. There where the Word of God should have been enthroned was a demon entrenched. Here was a man “in an unclean spirit” (literally), that is to say, in his grasp, possessed by him. Demons recognized who Christ was. They recognized Him whilst scribes and Pharisees refused so to do. When multitudes of the race which Christ came to save knew Him not, neither confessed His rightful claim, the demon was compelled to cry, “I know thee who thou art”. But demons had nothing to do with Him, so the demon said, “What have we to do with thee?”. Demons had nothing to expect of His hand but fuller and final destruction. They knew that the Saviour of men must be the Destroyer of unclean spirits, so the demon asks, “Art thou come to destroy us?”. The high priests and the leaders of the people think that they can destroy Christ. The demon knows better. He is the great Destroyer—He has come to destroy the works of the devil; cf. 1 John 3. 8. The demons acknowledge Christ, but they have no part nor lot in His salvation. There is a knowledge which does not save, for it touches the intellect but not the heart. A mere acceptance of the facts and doctrines of Christianity will never save a soul. The demons also believe, says James 2. 19. There is no infidelity amongst them. They believe that Jesus is the Christ. They believe that He is the Judge who will commit them to endless torment. Some people doubt the reality of hell and the eternity of punishment. Such doubts are found only in the hearts of self-willed men, never in demons.
But Christ does not need the testimony of demons. He wishes no acknowledgment from such lips. “Be muzzled”, He says. He had taught with authority, and now in like manner He commands. So the unclean spirit comes out at a word from Him. He can release every prisoner held in Satan’s bondage.
So we come to the eventide. “And forthwith”, v. 29,— what a revelation of the ceaseless activity of the Lord’s life I There was no let-up, but a tremendous urgency. In contrast, what opportunities we let slip instead of buying them up. Though the disciples had only been with the Lord for a brief while, yet they had learned to take their troubles early to Him. “They tell” Jesus, v. 30. What could there be better to do ? It seemed the most natural thing for them to do. “They lost no time in telling Jesus about her”, Phillips Translation, v. 30. This became the habit of a lifetime. To whom else should we go when problems and difficulties come upon us ?
It was no slight indisposition. Luke called it a great or violent fever. But no case is beyond the power of Christ, and Peter’s mother-in-law was restored to use her new powers in service.
It is significant to notice that in Matthew’s account the order of the miracles is altered, and another is added, the healing of the centurion’s servant. The order in Matthew 8 suggests a prophetic picture:
What a busy day it had been, and the Lord must have been tired, and might fairly claim to have earned His rest. But it is not of rest that we read, but of new and costly activities. All the city is at the door, and He is exhausted within; yet, recognizing the claims of human need He passes into the midst of that pathetic crowd at the door bringing blessing and restoration with Him. And He healed them all.
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