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– Sometimes I get sad. I get sad when I see the needs and hurts of people around me. As a Pastor, I may see more of it than others; maybe not… but I do see or become aware of a bit. When I hear or see it, I want to do something – pray, provide biblical counsel, call them to say I care, gather resources to attempt solutions to their suffering. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it does not. When solutions seem exhausted and my/our help does not alleviate the problems, I begin to hurt. Their face and circumstances become images in my mind. Questions arise: Why does this happen? Whose fault is it? How can there be hope in God in this situation?
– Our problem is that we live in a Genesis 3 world. Sin is a reality everywhere we look. There is not a culture, a city, a workplace, a school, a neighborhood, a church, a family where the consequences of sin are not present. Sin has impacted us and it is not good.
– Even Christians suffer. Unfortunately, there are misconceptions that
- Being a Christian means life is always good and positive without the bad and challenges.
- Having a sufficient amount of faith in God will result in removal of bad and/or challenges.
Neither of these is true. Christians suffer.
- Job was righteous but became sick and suffering
- Psalmist groaned and cried out in suffering (Psalm 5:1; 13:1 “How long, O Lord?”; 22:1; 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”; etc…)
- Prophets were persecuted and suffered (Hebrews 11:35-40 “Some were tortured… others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, killed with the sword…”)
- Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, oppressed and afflicted (Isaiah 53:5-8)
- Jesus was poor without a place to lay his head (Luke 9:58)
- Jesus chose suffering, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John10:18).
- Paul suffered significantly “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us but life in you. (2Corinthians 4:8-12).
- Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1Peter 5:12-13).
– In all, Jesus has come to bring hope and healing from a Genesis 3 world.
1John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
EXAMINE “Healing” Luke 4:31-44
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has lived privately for 30 years with his family in a small, rural town of Nazareth. He was known as the carpenter’s son and at other times as a son of immorality. Now things are changing. In the previous passage, Jesus began his public ministry by reading Scripture (Isa 61) and prophesying its fulfillment in his life. He travels beyond Nazareth intoCapernaum.Capernaum seemed to be a base of operations for Jesus – teaching publicly (Mark 1:21; John 6) and privately (Mark 2:1-2), calling two pairs of brothers Peter & Andrew and James & John (Matt 4:18-22), heals a paralytic (Mark 2:5), heals centurion’s son (Matt 8:5), and other miracles and teachings.
Today’s Luke 4 passage will give us 2 reasons to find hope and healing in Jesus.
Jesus is inherently powerful (4:31-37).
It is seen that Jesus teaches and acts with authority/power. When Jesus read Isaiah 61 and preached in the synagogues, all eyes were fixed upon him (4:20). His teaching carried impact because he did not quote or reference other authorities but spoke of his own inherent power.
– When you go into a store to make a purchase, you seek the person who looks like they know what they are talking about. After speaking with them, you make a decision based on their recommendation or their ignorance.
– We seek counsel from those who 1) have wisdom or experience 2) have expertise because of letters or titles behind their name 3) have earned our personal trust.
ð We seek Jesus because he 1) teaches with authority, 2) is uniquely God, 3) is faithful to lead our church and very own lives.
In the synagogue during Jesus’ teaching, a man loudly cries out against Jesus. He is demon possessed and causing disruption. There are other places in Luke’s Gospel portraying demon possession:
6:17 “And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.”
7:21 “In that hour [Jesus] healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits”
8:27-28 “When Jesus had stepped out on land there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
9:38-39 “And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth and shatters him and will hardly leave him.”
11:14 “Now [Jesus] was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the people marveled.”
The Scriptures show that demons and Satan can cause all sorts of pain, suffering and sin:
– Sickness: (Job 2:4-6; Luke 4:31-41; 13:16; 2Cor 12:7)
– Anger: (Eph 4:26-27)
– Anxiety (Matthew 13:19-22
– Arrogance: (1 Tim 3:6)
– Immorality and sexual temptation (1Jn 2:16, 1Cor 6:18-20, 7:5)
– Betrayal (Luke 22:3)
– Lies (John 8:44)
– Idolatry, False religion and False Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:14–22; 2 Corinthians 11:1–4)
– Partnership or marriage between Christians and unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:15)
– Selfish Attitudes or Emotions, like bitterness or anger(Ephesians 4:17– 5:2)
– Foolishness and drunkenness (Ephesians 5:8–21)
– Idle gossip and busy-bodying (1 Tim. 5:11–15)
– Torment (Mark 1:26; Acts 5:16)
– Physical injury (Mark 5:1-13)
– Murder/Suicide thoughts (John 8:44)
– False miracles (Acts 8:9–23; 16:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10)
– Gratuitous feelings of condemnation, fear, weakness, loneliness or abandonment (Romans 8)
- Hearing Accusations (Revelation 12:10): “You are…” rather than godly conviction: “I am…”
– False spirits or supernatural evil (1 John 4:1–6)
ð CAN I BE DEMON POSSESSED? To answer this question you simply ask, “Have I trusted in the Trinitarian (Father-Son-Spirit) God for salvation? Am I in holy fellowship with God?
2Cor 6:14 “what fellowship has light with darkness?”
Romans 8:9 “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
Colossians 1:13, 2:13-15 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities,he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
As Jesus interacts with the demon they know each other [remember in fighting temptation we must know our enemy]. Significant is that demons had no problem affirming Jesus’ divinity. However, the crowds and religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their personal freedom and power rather than worshiping Him.
ð Jesus has unique power. He rebukes this demon and commands his silence and exit of the man. The man escapes unharmed and the crowd was amazed at Jesus’ authority and power.
ð IS JESUS FIRST RESORT? When we face pain, suffering or sin in our life, what is our first response? Where do we turn? Do we attempt to manage the problems on our own? Do we pursue false idols and fill the void with various people or substances? Where do you pursue hope and healing?
Jesus is intimately personal (4:38-43)
After Jesus left the synagogue and demon exorcism, he goes to Simon’s house. This seems to be a personal visit. Simon’s mother-inlaw had a great (medical term) fever. The disciples appealed to Jesus as first resort. They trusted in Jesus’ power and requested healing. And Jesus healed her instantaneously and she arose to serve Jesus. God’s grace is always to be responded with gracious worship and service. This home visit, no doubt, involved personal and meaningful conversations with Jesus. It likely involved food and drink and cultivation of joyous friendship. That’s Jesus.
Further, many others who were sick and demon possessed came to Jesus for healing. Jesus laid his hands on every suffering person. Jesus is very personal and caring.
ð Christians can be reminded that the power of touch and prayer is meaningful.
James 5:13-16 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”
Jesus also traveled to other towns to tell multiple people about the good news of the kingdom of God.
ð Christians must GO and live sent for the similar purpose of Jesus in telling the good news of God’s kingdom.
In a world that does its best to minimize or medicate suffering and attempts to maximize pleasure, Christians must understand suffering is not meaningless. God is always working in and through our suffering to produce His greater purposes. On this side of eternity it is difficult to discern every meaning to every suffering (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1Corinthians 13:12) but we can understand a degree of God’s purposes, of which here are a few:
– Suffering humbles us to God’s sovereignty (Job 1:21, 40:3-5; Psalm 73:25; Psalm 77, 139)
ð Is my pride and arrogance causing me to have a sense of entitlement without recognizing God’s sovereignty and requesting God’s gracious blessings?
– Suffering identifies us with Jesus (2Cor 4:10-12; Gal 6:17; Philippians 3:10; 1Peter 4:16)
ð Am I attempting to isolate from God and God’s people?
– Suffering teaches us to trust and depend on God’s resources and not our own (Psalm 119:71; 2Cor 1:8-9; 12:7-10; Philippians 4:11-13)
ð Am I attempting solutions to my suffering from a human or worldly perspective?
– Suffering matures our faith and character (Romans 5:3-4, 8:28-29; James 1:2-4; 1Peter 1:6-9)
ð Is there an area of my life and spiritual growth that needs maturity?
– Suffering chastens us to holiness (Hebrews 12:5-29; James 5:13-20)
ð Is there an area of my life that needs surrendering and repentance to God?
– Suffering glorifies Jesus (John 9:3, 11:4, 12:27-28, 12:32, 17:1; Romans 8:17-18; 1Peter 4:13)
ð Am I seeking personal glory or credit for things in my life without gratitude to God?
– Suffering prepares us for redemptive death in hope of an eternal home (Psalm 90:10-12; John 11:4; Romans 8:18-23; 2Corinthians 5:1-10)
ð Am I holding too tightly to this world? Am I ready to face God for my eternal destiny?
– Samuel Rutherfod said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there.
– Charles Spurgeon said, “they who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”
– John Piper “God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of His people. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering He experienced so that when we proclaim the Cross as the way of life, people will see the marks of the Cross in us and feel the love of the Cross from us…” (Desiring God, pp.269-270)
– John Piper
“We must talk so as to make suffering seem normal and purposeful, and not surprising in this fallen age. The forces of American culture are almost all designed to build the opposite worldview into our minds. Maximize comfort, ease, and security. Avoid all choices that might bring discomfort, trouble, difficulty, pain, or suffering. Add this cultural force to our natural desire for immediate gratification and fleeting pleasures, and the combined power to undermine the superior satisfaction of the soul in the glory of God through suffering is huge.” (John Piper, Counseling Suffering People, JBC, Winter 2003)
µ Today, we look to Jesus for hope and healing because
- He is inherently powerful
- He is intimately personal
µ Respond by praying for your own suffering
- Are you suffering from sin? Then confess, repent and believe.
- Are you suffering from hurts? Then pray, request others to pray.