Jesus Loves People With Actions AND Words…
Let’s walk through Luke 4:31-44 together. Words in bold are from the Bible…everything else are my thoughts…
31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
[The people at the last synagogue—the place for learning about God—had just tried to kill Jesus by throwing Him off a cliff. But Jesus did not allow this response of the people to stop Him from His mission. He goes to another synagogue to continue to be Who God the Father sent Him to be, and to continue to do what God the Father sent Him to do.
WHAT BRAVERY! WHAT COURAGE! WHAT DEVOTION TO GOD THE FATHER’S WILL!!!
What has God called YOU to be, what has God chosen YOU to do?
Perhaps you started on the journey but turned back/got sidetracked due to some opposition, to do some difficulties, due to some pain/suffering:
-investing in healing/strengthening your marriage
-pursuing a wandering child—either youth or adult
-working to mend a bruised relationship with a family member/friend
-reaching out to a distant childhood pal
Jesus didn’t quit when He got knocked down, Jesus didn’t abandon His mission when those whom He was sent to responded not in faith but in disbelief, not in love but in hatred, not in gentleness but in anger, not in gratitude but in bitterness…
And He wants to strengthen us with that same strength to continue pressing on to become who He made us to be, to do what He made us to do…
Acts 20:21-25: 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
WHAT BRAVERY! WHAT COURAGE! WHAT DEVOTION TO GOD THE FATHER’S WILL!!!
When is the last time that any of us cried out to God, not to give us more stuff, but to give us faith in Him LIKE THAT?
Faith to be more focused, determined, submissive to God?
Back to Luke…
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
[As I referenced two weeks ago, James 2:19 tells us that even demons believe in Jesus—they know He is not just a man, they know He is not just a carpenter, they know He is not a fairy tale, they know He is God Himself. They know this is True but they are not HAPPY about this Truth—they cringe/shudder at this Truth.
Do we believe this Truth about Jesus? Are WE happy about Him being God, being Savior, being the highest Answer to our deepest questions? Are we listening to the culture saying He is just a dude who taught some cool things about love, or are we listening to Him in the Bible saying that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one can get to God the Father except through Him? If we have doubts about this, are we doing anything to uproot the nagging weeds in our minds, those unhealthy thoughts that Jesus is anything less than He claims to be, God Himself in the flesh? Are we praying, reading the Bible, getting counsel from mature Christians, and asking others to pray for us in our doubts? The demons believe, and cringe…God wants to help us believe, and shout for joy that Jesus is God so we don’t have to try to be our own god anymore]
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
[Jesus refuses to listen/talk with demons—He simply and firmly shows His power over them, He clearly shows His ability and willingness to free an oppressed man from his spiritual prison. Jesus will do the same for us…if we ask…with the simple faith of a little child
What do you need Jesus to free you from?
What prison has you closed in on all four sides, with what seems to be no way out?
There might not be a door of window for you to escape through, but there is an open ceiling above for you to look toward and cry out to Jesus through…He is listening, He is waiting, He is there…with you, willing and able to set you free, to offer you TRUE freedom, which is not us desiring to do whatever we want but is us genuinely wanting to do whatever Jesus desires]
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
[The people marvel at Jesus’ WORDS…His actions are amazing, but they continue to be amazed by His words, by His Truth, by what He says]
Jesus Heals Many
38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
[Jesus had already had a busy morning teaching, getting rid of demons, etc. And yet when He encountered other opportunities to fulfill His mission He didn’t back away, He didn’t focus on Himself, He didn’t say, “I’ve done enough today.”
Now I’m not saying that Jesus was busy busy busy filling up His days with endless/constant activities that seem noble but actually wind up being a distraction from true purpose/mission—not at all! That’s the American Way, NOT the Biblical Way. In another couple of verses we will see Jesus model for us what real rest/refreshment comes from, and it is not from just doing more/working harder.
But here in verse 38 we see Jesus not passing up an opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life simply because He had already done so to others earlier in the day.
How many times have I come home from church on a Sunday afternoon and thought, “MAN! I shouldn’t have to do those dishes/fold those clothes/clean up this mess? I’ve been hard at work all day!”
I’ve thought this many times, as if because of my service at church in the morning I am now exempt from my service at home in the evening. Instead of being self-righteous, Jesus is teaching me to look at those dishes, clothes, messes as an opportunity to continue to be who He made me to be, to continue to do what He made me to do, to realize that my cleaning in that sink is just as important as my preaching on this platform, that by God’s grace I had opportunities at church to make a difference in people’s lives and also by God’s grace I have MORE opportunities at home to make a difference in people’s lives]
40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
[Again, AT SUNSET—from morning through the end of the day!—Jesus continued to be focused on fulfilling His mission, accomplishing His purpose given to Him by God the Father.
Are we focused on God’s mission and purpose for our own lives?
As hard as all of us have worked over the past week, as busy as we have been with good things, have we been focused on the best things that God has prepared for us?
Do we even WANT to be focused like Jesus, or like Cypher in the Matrix do we simply want the steak, even though we know it isn’t real?]
42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
[But look at verse 42 here—this is what Jesus did regularly to make it through His difficult 33 years on earth. Jesus was able to endure His trials by doing something that ALL of us can do but that few of us do—He spent time with His Father in prayer, in quiet, in listening. Jesus could have spent that quiet time with His Father healing more people! (And no doubt many Christians today would advise Him to do just that—MORE ministry, MORE service, MORE work for God!) But while healing and teaching and serving others IS important—and Jesus did these things A LOT!—being alone with God the Father in prayer was equally if not MORE important. Jesus understood that God wants us to KNOW Him even more than He wants us to SERVE Him. In heaven we aren’t gonna be scrambling all over the place in hectic busyness for all eternity; we will gaze at the face of God Himself and worship Him in an eternal wedding banquet/reception/party! So let’s learn to start that now, let’s learn to BE with God now so we can have a head start on eternity while we are on earth…
But it’s tough to get to know God—I can’t see Him!
- Helen Keller couldn’t see, speak OR hear, and yet she was able, with determination and focus, to learn to communicate with other people. She even had a deeper friendship with someone (Anne Sullivan) than many of us have who can see, hear, and speak. We can learn to be deeply close to God…
- True, we cannot usually experience God with our five senses, but we can STILL know Him deeply/personally if we are willing to work with Him to learn. But are we? We won’t have time to truly pursue God AND to pursue other things. What is more important to us? God promises that if we pursue Him WITH ALL OUR HEARTS we will find Him. Jesus often went to lonely places and prayed to get to know His Father better; we need to be willing to do so as well.
As this passage ends, as the people were trying to get Jesus to act a certain way, Jesus clearly stated that He MUST do what God made Him to do—proclaim the GOOD NEWS with His words and actions that forgiveness, heaven, and new life are available to ANYONE who will simply believe in Jesus as their Savior and King—Jesus was FOCUSED on His purpose…and He wants to teach us to be as well…]
In our final few moments together this morning, I want to focus on one major theme of this passage—Jesus’ use of both actions AND words in accomplishing His mission.
Actions AND words are needed—Jesus healed people, drove out demons (ACTIONS) AND He taught people about God with His words:
Over the last 20+ years in America there has been a huge swing amongst Christians—we seem to be HYPER focused on doing good deeds in the community but seem to have lost our focus on speaking good words of Truth.
Words without actions: like serving soup without a bowl—you just dump it on the table and it’s hard to eat the meal and get nourished;
Actions without words: like serving a bowl without the soup—there isn’t much in it to truly nourish.
Jesus did BOTH—actions AND words—and so He wants us to do the same.
May we please stop quoting, “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary”?
- This is not in the Bible, yet many Christians without realizing it build our daily/practical Christian lives upon it. Jesus said to build our lives on HIS Words, not on the well-intentioned but imperfect words of other fellow Christians.
- This has an element of truth in it but it also has some big elements of not-truth:
Jesus didn’t live by this—He constantly used words to teach others about His grace, love and Truth
The earliest Christians didn’t live by this—they constantly were using their words to tell others about Jesus and His grace, love and Truth. Look at how many times the words “preach” “proclaim” “told” are used in the book of Acts…
- We can teach some of Jesus’ Truth through our actions…but some of Jesus’ Truth can only be learned through words! By serving someone a meal or encouraging them with a kind note, they can TOTALLY catch a glimpse of God’s perfect love for them through our imperfect love. BUT a treat from Starbucks or a homemade dinner for someone is not going to cause them to intuitively realize that Jesus died on a cross in their place to pay the penalty that they deserve for their sins. (ROMANS 10:12-16)
- But my good deeds help me to build trust with others so that I can eventually tell them about Jesus with my words!
- YES! AMEN! But few of us ever actually use our words! We simply stay where it’s safe, continuing to build more and more bridges of friendship with people while failing to ever drive across those bridges with the words that more specifically reveal Jesus’ grace, love and Truth. San Francisco has ONE Golden Gate Bridge–and it is constantly being driven across! SF doesn’t have 20 Golden Gate Bridges…Let’s not build spiritual “bridges to nowhere”…
- Let’s be honest—it’s EASIER to love people with actions only than it is to also share Jesus Truth with our words:
Few will get mad at Christians for serving in the community only with actions;
PLENTY of people will get mad at Christians for teaching others that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that Jesus alone is God, that Jesus’ forgiveness needs to be accepted for people to get to heaven…
- John 10:29-33: Jesus ran into this problem as well. In this passage, the people weren’t mad at His ACTIONS, but they were starting to get mad at His words (He claimed to be GOD!). But His job wasn’t just to do acts of love but to also speak words of love and truth. A modern-day Christian PR Director might advise Jesus to focus more on His actions and less on His words, but Jesus was sent to do BOTH. So are we…
- But are we willing to face the backlash that will come from speaking Jesus’ words of Truth? IF that’s how they treated Him, we will face similar mistreatment as well…but do we live to please humans or to please God? Do we want to be popular amongst our culture or popular amongst our Christ, our Savior? It is another sermon for another Sunday to discuss HOW we use our words to gently and respectfully tell others about Jesus. But today’s sermon is for us to start wrestling with whether we are going to only use our actions or to also use our words…