January 9, 2011

All About the Word - Jan 9, 2011

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Today is the first Sunday in the season of Epiphany. Epiphany is the season that falls between the birth of our Savior (Christmas) and the events that led to His crucifixion and resurrection (Lent).

Epiphany means “manifestation” or “striking appearance”. Jesus lived a quiet life for thirty years. Then, He was baptized by John and began teaching and healing throughout the countryside. All the sudden, this young man from Galilee was revealed as God’s messenger – and more.

During Epiphany, our Bible readings often focus on the miracles that Jesus did. The Bible calls these “Miraculous signs”. They were done to help people: the blind, the sick, the demon possessed. But these miracles were also done to point to the fact that Jesus was from God, and His message was trustworthy.

This Epiphany, I’d like to focus on what Jesus SAID, more than on what He DID. I’d like to focus on the Words and teachings of Jesus. His teaching was really the FIRST thing that grabbed the people’s attention.

Sure, Jesus did miracles, but first and foremost He was ALL ABOUT GOD’S WORD.


1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”
5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

I wonder if Jesus had been studying through Deuteronomy right before He was led into the desert for His first big showdown with the Devil. Each time the Devil tempts Jesus here, Jesus takes His reply right out of the Word of God, specifically from the book of Deuteronomy. Verses 4, 8 and 12 are quotations of Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:13, and 6:16).

Jesus didn’t have to go looking for ammunition, He had God’s Word tucked away in His mind already. The Devil never had a chance.

This is why you and I need to have a constant flow of the Bible in our lives. The Devil never stops trying to bring God’s people down.

Jesus’ first quotation sums it up – “Man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4 NIV). Food and drink keeps our bodies ticking, but the Word of God keeps our faith alive, nourishing and preparing us for the Devil’s next attack.

Fellow Christians, be all about God’s Word.


14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Again, we find Jesus is all about the Word. When the Sabbath rolls around, He’s in church with others gathering around the Bible.

Jesus is there to teach. But the message on this day was particularly exciting because it was being fulfilled. Jesus read from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).

Isaiah had spoken of freedom, recovery and release. Jesus would bring these things. But not just through healing the blind, the sick and the demon possessed. Jesus was there to free people from their burden of sins. That’s where the biggest freedom was to be given.

If we are in debt, but have forgiveness from God, we are rich. If we are in jail, but have forgiveness from God, we are free. If we can’t see with our eyes anymore, but know that Jesus died for us, we have seen the only light that matters.

Eternal life with God is gained when Christ is trusted. And Christ is found in the Word of God.

Fellow Christians, be all about God’s Word.


22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
24“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I 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. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And 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.”
28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They 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. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Jesus had grown up in Nazareth. But when Jesus preached there, the people were not satisfied with His words. They wanted more miracles.

Jesus’ response to their discontent drips with Bible references. He reminds them of the widow that Elijah helped in First Kings, and Naaman who was healed in Second Kings. These people were foreigners, not hometown favorites.

The people of Nazareth expected special treatment because of their superficial connection to Jesus. Jesus says, “Nope”. In fact, even Jesus’ own family didn’t receive special treatment.

Listen to Matthew 12:46-50
“46While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
48He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50 NIV).
Jesus’ family is defined by inner faith and following, not by genetics or superficial connection.

Fellow Christians, be all about God’s Word.


31Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. 32They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.
33In 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.
36All 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!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
38Jesus 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. 39So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
40When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41Moreover, 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 Christ.
42At 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. 43But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.


We’ve already seen how Jesus was all about the Word of God. Here we see how Jesus refused to let the PEOPLE be distracted from the Word of God when He was teaching.

No longer in His “hometown” of Nazareth, Jesus has moved down to Capernaum, which would be the “home base” of his ministry. There, as usual, we find Him teaching the people on the day of worship.

But there in the congregation lurks a distraction. A man who is possessed by a demon moves among them. Having been silent for a time, the demon suddenly bursts out and yells at Jesus. Verse 4
“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!” (Luke 4:34 NIV).
The first thing we notice is that the demon actually speaks the truth! Jesus really is the Holy One of God. But the demon’s motives were clearly not good. I don’t know exactly why the demon chose this time and place to rant at Jesus, but I know this: he was a distraction from Jesus’ message.

Jesus doesn’t put up with this for a second. With a stern word Jesus shuts the demon up and casts him out of the man.

The people were already listening intently to Jesus because His message was unlike the teaching of others. His message was authoritative. It sprung from the very Scriptures of God, and opened those Scriptures up to be understood, absorbed and believed.

What the demon meant to distract actually serves to draw the people’s attention back to Jesus’ message. They could see that Jesus had an intellectual and spiritual command of the Bible. Now they found out that He also had command over demons! Once again, Jesus’ miracle served as a sign that said, “I’m from God. Listen to what I’m telling you.”

Now, we might not have demons screaming during our times of meditation on God’s Word, but we’ve sure got distractions. Jesus teaches us here not to tolerate those distractions. When we hear the Word of God, God is trying to communicate to our hearts and minds. Nothing must be allowed to crowd that message out, or distract us from hearing it. Nothing.

What distracts you from hearing and inwardly absorbing God’s voice? What keeps you from gathering on the day of worship? What distracts you from listening to the Word for yourself when you’re here? Do something about it. Make a choice and a change. Be all about God’s Word.

What distracts you from ongoing devotion time at home? Is it finding a time when you’re not busy with other things? Is it your awkward translation of the Bible? Is it a lack of knowledge about the times and places in which the events of the Bible take place? Do something about it. Shift your way of life. Think about it. Pray about it. Make a choice and a change. Be all about God’s Word.

In our readings from Luke today, we’ve seen that Jesus is all about the Word of God. At the end of this reading, Jesus more specifically defines the purpose of His ministry by saying…

“I must preach the good new of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43 NIV).

This “good news” was that the kingdom of God was open to sinners. Jesus Himself would pay the price to make forgiveness ours. He did that on the cross when He suffered for each and every individual. He felt God’s anger over OUR sins fall on HIS soul. Through Jesus, we are made free from our own sin’s heavy guilt and eternal punishment.

Turn to Ephesians 2, verse 4. There Paul writes…
“4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV).
This was Jesus’ message. God’s promise of release from sin’s guilt and punishment is trustworthy. To illustrate this free grace, Jesus releases untold numbers of people from the physical effects of sin on this world.

When Adam and Even first sinned, death entered the world. And with death came disease and sickness. But at the word of Jesus, fevers left. Diseases dissipated. Demons fled. All of these physical blessings were a foreshadowing of the complete Eden that will come to Christ’s followers in heaven.

That’s why Jesus couldn’t stay in Capernaum. They wanted this Great Physician to stay with them. It’s natural that they would! Uncle Josiah could see again! Little Timothy could walk for the first time! Capernaum was alive with health and celebration because of this Jesus of Nazareth.

But Jesus had to leave. Capernaum couldn’t monopolize the Healer, because the Healer was first and foremost a preacher. And the good news of God’s promise kept and sins forgiven forever MUST be carried to other places.

And that’s why WE must be all about the Word of God. We know forgiveness. We know peace with God and the tearful lightness of heart and joy that it brings when we really remember it inside.

But the message of the kingdom of God can’t remain inside us only. It has to be given to other suffering sinners also. To those dragged down by their sin. To those who don’t recognize how serious their sins are.

The Bible says that Christ is the head of the Church, and we are the body. We must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the others also, because that is why we are sent.

As someone once said, “We are saved, to serve”.

Dear followers of Christ, be all about the Word. It is your salvation, and the salvation of those around you.


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