The Cure of a Demoniac (Luke 4:31-37)

The Cure of a Demoniac.

31* Jesus then went down to Capernaum,r a town of Galilee.s He taught them on the sabbath,

32 and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority.t

33 In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,u and he cried out in a loud voice,

34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?* I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”v

35 Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm.

36 They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

37 And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

Verse 32 tells us that “they were astonished with his teaching because he spoke with authority.”  Now what does this mean?  If you ever hear me teach you’ll hear me say things like “the Church teaches that …” or I might say something like “In Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross tells us that …”  The teachers (Scribes, Pharisees, and experts in the law) of Jesus’ time spoke much the same way.  When teaching the people, they might have said something like “Rabbi so and so says …” They would offer many reflections and insights but only by citing someone else.  However Jesus didn’t teach this way.  Jesus said “you have heard it said that …, but I say to you …” For example, from Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus says the following:

21 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,n ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’*22* But I say to you, whoever is angry* with his brother will be liable to judgment,o and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,p 24 leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.q Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

We can be confident that Jesus spoke in a similar way to the crowds in Capernaum.  Clearly, Jesus speaks with authority, and for the people of his day, this was astonishing; they probably had never heard anything like it before.  It’s also important to note that for the typical teachers of Jesus’ time, whenever they referred to someone else’s teaching, they were not referencing anyone of higher authority; they just referred to another opinion.

In our day, however, the Church speaks with authority. This can only be done because Jesus has given the Church the power, authority, and guidance to do so.  The Church is taught by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit reminds the Church of everything that Jesus said (Jn 14:26).  The Church is the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim 3:15).  The Church has the authority to “bind and loose” (this is a big deal and I’ll go deeper into this concept when we reach Matthew Chapter 16) (Mt 16:18 & 18:18).

In verse 36 we read that the crowd was amazed and asked “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”  In teaching and speaking with authority the way that Jesus does, he begins to show His divine nature.

We can ask ourselves the same question “what is there about his word?”  Because the Sacred Scriptures are his word, spoken for us today.  Truly, “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart (Heb 4:12).

Pray that the word of God, Jesus’ word, can be living and effective in your own life, “achieving the end for which he sent it.” (c.f., Is 55:11)


Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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