Luke 4:25-30 (NIV) 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
On verses 25-30: Previously in verse 24, in response to the rejection he felt from his own hometown, Jesus says, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”. Jesus then gives two examples of that from the Old Testament. First, Jesus cites the Jewish prophet Elijah and how, at a time when the ancient Middle East was enduring a famine, Elijah was not sent to help anyone in Israel but instead was sent to help a Gentile (i.e. non-Jewish) widow in the region of Sidon (v26, see also 1 Kings 17:7-24). Second, Jesus cites the prophet Elisha, Elijah’s successor, and how even though there were many people suffering from skin diseases in Israel, God used Elisha only to heal a Gentile from Syria called Naaman (v27, see also 2 Kings 5).
Why were the people in the synagogue so furious at Jesus’ comments (v28)? It’s because Jesus was making some controversial claims: (1) that he was the Messiah whom the Jews had been waiting for; (2) that the Jews in the synagogue were rejecting him as the real Messiah; and (3) that he as the Messiah had come not just to save the Jews but to save non-Jews (Gentiles) as well, just like Elijah and Elisha before him.
The Jews in the synagogue, who took pride in being called God’s chosen people and who thought that they had an exclusive right to God, were offended that Jesus would call himself the Messiah and that he would mention Gentiles among those he had come to save. Thinking that Jesus had spoken blasphemy (false ideas about God), the Jews in the synagogue tried to throw Jesus off a cliff but were not successful (v29-30).
Keep in mind that Luke is a Gentile writing this book for Theophilus (see Luke 1:1-4), who is also a Gentile.
What can we learn from this? Jesus is not only the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for; Jesus is also the Saviour that the entire world needs. This is an ongoing theme in the book of Luke and in its sequel the book of Acts. Jesus has a heart not just for you, your family and the people in your culture. Jesus has a heart to reach every person of every language and culture who does not yet know him.
Luke 4:31-37 (NIV) 31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Ha! 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!” 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. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
On verses 31-37: Anyone can claim to be anything, but, as Jesus himself said, you will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:16). Here we see Jesus backing up his words, doing what he said he had been sent to do, which is to proclaim freedom for prisoners and to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18). Jesus goes to Capernaum (which Luke has to explain is “a town in Galilee” to his non-Jewish audience). There, in addition to amazing the people with his teaching (v32), Jesus helps a demon-possessed man in the synagogue find deliverance, rebuking the demon inside the man and causing that demon to leave (v33-35). Jesus was backing up his words with actions and miracles (v36), causing news about him to spread even more (v37).
What can we learn from this? Jesus has authority over demons and evil spirits. Jesus is greater than Satan. While I do not believe it is possible for someone who has trusted Jesus as their Saviour to be demon-possessed, I have seen occasions when a person who has trusted in Jesus is being oppressed or attacked by an evil spirit. If that ever happens to you, find your hope and deliverance in Jesus. You can pray and tell the evil spirit to leave in the name of Jesus, for Jesus is greater than Satan. You can also seek help and support from your church. Believe that Jesus will save you, for He is greater than any evil spirit you will ever encounter.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You came to save all of us, regardless of what background we come from. I praise You for being the One who has all authority over Satan, evil spirits and demons. Thank You that in You I find my freedom and release. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!