For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

4:1.  “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,”

4:2.  “Being forty days tempted of the devil.  And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.”

Every believer of this Church age is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit; but for Him to fill us, it is necessary that there be no known sin that hasn’t been confessed, repented of, and forsaken; that there be no disobedience relative either to what He has commanded us to do or not do, and in view of these conditions it is obvious that the times when He fills us are rare and fleeting.  That such filling is possible, however, - even though rare and fleeting - is assured in the command given us in Eph 5:18, “... be filled with the Spirit.” 

But the Lord wasn’t like us.  He never had any sin, either of commission or omission, to confess, repent of, or forsake: He was always full of the Holy Spirit, and the description of Him in verse 1 is not to be understood as applying to a condition which had just begun, but rather as having been true of Him always.

Following His return from Jordan, where in His baptism we have been shown in symbol His future sin-atoning death, and resurrection, His entering the wilderness points symbolically to His public ministry, for it was rendered in a world that was a spiritual wilderness.  Since forty is the biblical number of testing, His being tempted (tested) by Satan in the wilderness, declares that every moment of that public ministry was a time when Satan dogged His steps, seeking opportunity to destroy Him.  His having nothing to eat during those forty days declares that there was nothing in the wilderness of this world that could meet the Lord’s spiritual need.  It was from heaven that He derived His sustenance, the inability of this world to furnish anything that could satisfy Him, being declared by the fact that at the end of those days “He afterward hungered.”

A practical lesson to be learned from the Lord’s experience is that if we are walking in His footsteps we will have the same experience in this world.  It can no more minister to our spiritual needs than to His.  Our strength also comes from heaven through the written Word.  Nor should we ever forget that Satan also dogs our steps, seeking to tempt us to sin and thus dishonor God.  

Grant’s comments relative to the temptation of Christ are worth quoting, “The temptation in the wilderness follows the public testimony of God to His Son.  It is founded on it:- ‘If thou be the Son of God’; and necessarily follows it.... It would have been dishonor to both, if God had waited to see if His Son would stand all tests before approving Him .... that approval was a challenge to the accuser.”

4:3.  “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it me made bread.”

4:4.  “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

By performing the proposed miracle the Lord could have achieved two objectives: (1) demonstrated that He was God, and (2) satisfied His natural hunger, the intensity of which is revealed in one translation which says that He was famished!  But He rejected Satan’s suggestion, for the Lord’s Divinity is to be apprehended by faith, not by tangible proof; nor would He exercise His Divine power on His own behalf, but would be bound by the same constraints as govern the lives of ordinary men.  He would use His Divine power for the blessing of others, but not for Himself.

The Scripture He quoted emphasizes that spiritual life is  far more important than is that which is natural.

4:5.  “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”

4:6.  “And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”

It is to be noted that the Lord didn’t refute Satan’s claim that the kingdoms of this world are under his dominion, for Scripture assures us that for once he wasn’t lying, see e.g., Jn 14:30 where the Lord refers to him as “the prince of this world,” and 2 Cor 4:4 where he is described as “the god of this world (age),”  The dominion that was given him in pre-Adamic times when he was Lucifer, the shining one, the anointed cherub, was given to Adam, but through his disobedience that power reverted to Satan, and will be his until he is bound in the abyss at the beginning of the Millennium, and then cast into the lake of fire.

4:7.  “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

In the six thousand years since Adam many have accepted his offer, not realizing that it was costing them their souls; nor has the arch deceiver kept his word: the promised dominion of the whole world has never been achieved by any of the deluded monsters who have waded through rivers of human blood in an effort to seize the worthless prize - worthless because not given by God.  He has reserved that honor for the One Who permitted men to shed His blood because He was willing to die to deliver them from Satan’s dominion, and from the eternal torment that follows it.

4:8.  “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

The Lord would accept dominion of the world from no hand but that of His Father.

4:9.  “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and  said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence;”

4:10.  “For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:”

4:11.  “And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Satan’s ability to quote Scripture leaves no doubt that he is fully aware of all that is written, including the certainty of his own terrible end.  His continuing in evil, therefore, gives some indication of how utterly wicked he is, and how fitting is the punishment awaiting him: eternal torment in the lake of fire.  We can’t even begin to imagine the love for men that impelled the Lord Jesus Christ to submit himself to the power of this arch fiend in order to make possible their deliverance from his malign power, and from having to share his terrible fate.

4:12.  “And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

It is one thing to have the assurance of God’s protecting care; quite another to tempt Him to exercise it to bring glory to us.  To rest in the assurance of it is faith: to tempt Him to display it is arrogant presumption prompted by pride which heads the list of things that He hates, see Pr 6:17.

Relative to the difference between the order of the temptations as given by Matthew and Luke, the generally accepted explanation is that in Matthew, the Gospel of the King, it is appropriate that the offer of universal dominion should climax the temptations; and that in Luke, the Gospel of the perfect Man, it should be that which would have brought the Lord glory as Man.

Three things are recorded concerning the temptation of Eve in connection with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and was desirable to make one wise.  It isn’t difficult to see the correspondence of each characteristic of the tree to one of the areas in which man reflects the image of his Creator, for as God is a Being of intelligence, emotion, and will, so is man, created in the Divine image, a creature of intelligence, emotion, and will.   Satan’s inducing Eve to see it as a tree whose fruit would make one wise, was clearly the tempter’s seduction directed to man’s intellect.

The emotional part of man is another reflection of the Divine image, and Satan’s appeal to man’s emotion is easily discerned in his focusing Eve’s attention on the beauty of the tree.  Her occupation with that helped to distract her from the Divine prohibition regarding its fruit, and led to the tempter’s successful seduction of man in the realm of emotion.

The successful assault on man’s intellect and emotion left only the realm of the will to be invaded, and that was accomplished when the deceiver persuaded the woman to eat.  Thus by an act of her own will she defied God’s will which had been expressed in the command, “Thou shalt not eat of it.”

Man, a creature of intelligence, emotion, and will, had stood in the image of God, whose own nature is comprehended in these same three attributes, but with that one act of disobedience the image was marred, and man had become a fallen, ruined creature.

But the God Who had restored the inanimate creation from the ruin brought upon it by the rebellion of its spiritual prince, would perform a greater miracle on behalf of fallen man.  He too, would be restored, the price of his redemption being the blood of God’s own Son!

Part of that redemption process required that the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, be subjected to the same test as that presented to the first Adam, but some of the circumstances were different.  The temptation of the first Adam came when he stood as the human head of creation, surrounded by all that the heart of man could desire.  The temptation of the last Adam came when He stood as the despised son of a carpenter, surrounded by a barren desert whose wastes failed to furnish even a crust of bread for the forty days of His sojourn there.  The temptation of the first Adam came when every circumstance combined to aid the tempted.  That of the last Adam came when every circumstance combined to aid the tempter.  It was thus when failure of his scheme seemed impossible that Satan directed his temptation to the intellect, emotion, and will of the last Adam.

What could be more intelligent than for Him Who claimed to be the Son of God, and Who had been fasting for forty days, to turn a stone to bread?  But the tempter failed.  The Lord Jesus Christ as Man would not use His Divine power to do for Himself what other men couldn’t do for themselves.   In the realm of the intellect Christ was inviolable.

The attack upon that part of the Lord’s nature which embraced all that is comprehended in emotion, came in the suggestion that He display His love for the Father in an act which would seem to be the epitome of trusting love, “cast thyself down,” but again the tempter failed.

There remained only one more temptation.  If the citadel of the Lord’s will should prove unassailable, then Satan’s attempted seduction of the last Adam had failed.  The chagrin begotten by two failures is easily imagined.  With what delicate care he must have set about the final assault, but all the schemes of the fallen Lucifer were powerless against the One Whose whole delight was found in doing the Father’s will.  He would accept the dominion of the world only in the Father’s time, and from the Father’s hand.  In the realm of will, as in that of intellect and emotion, the Lord displayed a perfect integrity. 

The testing of the first Adam in the realm of intelligence, emotion, and will, revealed his weakness, and made him subject to death.  That of the last Adam manifested His inherent perfection, and declared Him to be, not only beyond the power of death, but to be its mighty Conqueror, He becoming that Conqueror by voluntarily submitting to death, and dying the death incurred by the disobedience of the first Adam, but then rising again from that dread realm for the justification of all who trust Him as Savior. 

When that moment came, and God “made Him to be sin for us,” the fallen ruined creature for whom the sinless One was dying, advertised his own fallen state in the superscription he nailed above the cross on which he had crucified his Redeemer.  That superscription was written in letters of Greek, Latin and Hebrew; but Greek is the language of the educated world, e.g., “The Greeks seek after wisdom,” 1 Co 1:22.  It represents man’s intellect.  Latin was the language of Rome, to whose will the whole world was subject.  It represents man’s will.  Hebrew was the language of the religious world to whom the command had been given, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.”  It represents human emotion.

Thus man, fallen, corrupted, ruined in the three areas of his being which reflected the Divine image - intellect, emotion, and will - used the three corresponding languages to express his defiance of the God Whose love for the fallen creature was so great that He gave His only begotten Son to make possible the redemption of the ruined rebel.

Relative to that redemption it is instructive to note what is written in Scripture, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding,” Pr 9:10.  The first step in man’s recovery is that fear which involves the intellect, and impels him to acknowledge himself a ruined, hellbound sinner, and that leads him to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.

The second step involves the will, for salvation must be received by an act of the man’s own volition, and one of the proofs of a genuine conversion is that attitude which says from an honest heart, as did the Lord Himself, “Not my will, but Thine, be done,” Lk 22:42.

The third and final step of that redemption involves the emotions, and is disclosed in what is true only of men and women who have been born again, “We love Him, because He first loved us,” 1 Jn 4:19.  Thus by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, the believer, now a new creature in Christ, is enabled again to reflect intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally that he has been made in the image of God.

But conversion doesn’t simply restore the believer to the same state as was enjoyed by Adam before the fall.  If that were all it did, then he could, and would also fall again, but it brings him into a state from which he can never fall.

4:13.  “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.”

From this encounter Satan must slink off defeated, the Lord’s victory here being the foreshadowing of His greater victory at Calvary, from which Satan has had to retire mortally wounded.  That Satan’s departure was “for a season” reminds us that in spite of this defeat he would return again and again in a vain effort to destroy Christ.

It is scarcely necessary to note that this testing of Christ was not to prove whether He would sin, but rather to demonstrate that He could not.  A practical lesson for us is the method by which the Lord dealt with Satan during the temptation: He used Scripture, and so should we.

It is generally agreed that a year had elapsed between this and the events recorded beginning with verse 14.

4:14.  “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.”

He was always led by the Holy Spirit, but the thought here is that the Spirit’s power was demonstrated in the miracles which the Lord performed.  The word “fame” here means report.  Word of His preaching and miracles spread throughout the whole region.  The fame which accompanied His return to Galilee is a faint foreshadowing of that which will be His when He returns to earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords, to establish His millen­nial kingdom, and rule the world for the Father’s glory.

4:15.  “And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.”

His being glorified means that His teaching was well received, and He Himself praised by all who heard Him.  This is in marked contrast to the reception given Him and His teaching by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.

4:16.  “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” 

The words “as his custom was,” don’t mean that it had always been His custom to read in the synagogue of Nazareth, but that it had been His custom to do so in the synagogues of the places He had visited since beginning His public ministry.  This appears to have been the first time He did it in Nazareth.

His ability to read must have surprised His hearers, for on the occasion of His visit to the Temple, it evoked the question, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Jn 7:15.  This was only one of many things that should have alerted them to the fact that He was no ordinary man.  In the face of all that supported His claims, Israel’s rejection of Him is proof that there is no blindness as dark as that which is spiritual.

4:17.  “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias.  And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,”

This again was miraculous, for the Scriptures were on scrolls rather than in the form of our page numbered books, and  were read by winding the parchment from one roller to another.  Since there were neither verses nor chapter divisions, the finding of a specific Scripture was not the easy thing it is today.

4:18.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

This quotation is from Isa 61:1-2, and very obviously the One alluded to is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  The Jews were without excuse, for the Lord’s ministry was exactly what Isaiah had said the ministry of the Messiah would be.  It is significant that He stopped in the middle of the verse in Isaiah which continues, “... and the day of vengeance of our God.”  At His first advent He introduced the day of grace which has continued for two thousand years, but at His second coming to end the Tribulation, it will be to usher in “the day of vengeance of our God.”  Everything points to the fact that that day is near.  His coming for His Church could be today.  Then will follow the seven years of the Tribulation, which will conclude with His return in power and glory to execute judgment, banish unbelievers bodily into hell, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom.

It is instructive to note that the Lord was anointed “to preach the gospel to the poor,” for man’s first and greatest need is to hear the gospel, i.e., learn that he is a sinner who can be saved from hell and fitted for heaven only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is his Savior.  Nor is the word “poor” limited to the financially destitute, for all men in their natural state are spiritually bankrupt, and in need of the eternal spiritual riches which are available to all those who trust in the Son Whom God has given to die for the remission of their sins.

The words “... to heal the brokenhearted” are not in the better original manuscripts.

“... and to preach deliverance to the captives,” relates not just to those in literal prisons, but to those who are the captives of Satan, i.e., to all men, for Adam’s sin has made all his descendants the devil’s captives.

“... recovering of sight to the blind” likewise goes far beyond the restoration of physical sight: the gospel is designed to open men’s spiritual eyes so that they may see their sinful state, and their desperate need of a Savior.  But the gospel does more than reveal man’s lost state: it enables him to see the blessings available to all who trust in Christ as Savior.

“... to set at liberty them that are bruised,” is obviously not the same as setting men free from the captivity in which Satan holds every unbeliever.  “... bruised” is variously translated as oppressed; downtrodden; broken; crushed; shattered.  The reference is to the awful consequences of sin: addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.; those whose lives have been ruined by sin; whose marriages are broken; those who are in prison for crimes committed....  The ruin wrought by sin lies all around us, but Christ is the Remedy, for the ultimate tragedy of sin is not what may be seen on earth, but what occurs in eternity.  The repentant malefactor had only a few more hours to endure the consequences of his sin, but death brought deliverance and transported him into paradise to be for ever with his Savior. How different with his unrepentant companion!  He is still enduring the consequences of his sin, and will continue to endure them for ever, as will all who die without having trusted Christ as Savior.

4:19.  “To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

This was not pinpointing that particular year as the only one in which men could make themselves acceptable to the Lord.  It was declaring that the time foretold by the prophets, and foreshadowed in Israel’s year of jubilee, Le 25:8-13, had finally come.  The long promised Seed of the woman, the Messiah, the Savior had come, and through faith in Him men could make themselves acceptable to God in any year, any age.  This, however, doesn’t imply that a sinner may choose his own time to believe in Christ.  God’s warning is, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor 6:2.  Tomorrow may be too late!

4:20.  “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.”

4:21.  “And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Unquestionably it was His ability to read that riveted  every eye upon Him.  To all but those whose hearts the Holy Spirit had prepared to receive Him, however, His claim to be the fulfillment of this Scripture, i.e., the Messiah, was seen as gross presumption and blasphemy.

4:22.  “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?”

His gracious words compelled their admiration, but their question declared their incredulity.  They might “bare him witness,” i.e., admire His ability to read and teach, but they refused to believe that this supposed son of Joseph could possibly be the Messiah.  This was the stone over which Israel stumbled.  They were so focused on the Messiah who would come as the Lion of Judah, that they ignored the equally clear prophetic truth that He would come first as the Lamb of God to die, and thereby make atonement for sin.  Their basic problem, in fact, was that they refused to admit that they had sin, and that it must be atoned for and forgiven before they could have the millennial kingdom.  And this remains the basic problem with humanity.  Men refuse to admit that they are sinners, yet apart from that admission there can be so salvation.

4:23.  “And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.”

The term “physician, heal thyself” may be paraphrased, “Do here in your home town the miracles you have performed in other places.”  They were looking for miraculous signs, not realizing that what they needed was the greatest miracle of all: healing from sin, that healing being available to all who would trust in this One they disparagingly called “Joseph’s son,” but Whom they failed to recognize as the Son of God revealed in flesh. 

4:24.  “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.”

4:25.  “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias (Elijah), when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;”

4:26.  “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”

This is one of the Lord’s earliest warnings that He knew Israel would reject Him, a rejection that would result in His turning to the Gentiles.  Israel is presented in the OT under the figure of a woman bereft of her husband (God), and in Elijah’s being sent to this Gentile widow during the famine in Israel, we have the symbolic declaration of the truth that the years of Israel’s “widowhood” would be years of spiritual famine.  Because of her unbelief, she has experienced those years during the long period of the Church age, but the worst is yet to be in the three and a half years of the coming Great Tribulation.  As Israel in the days of Elijah rejected God, so, the Lord indicated, would it be when He Himself, the Prophet of whom all the others were but types, would speak to them.  As Elijah went to the Gentile widow, so would He turn to the Gentiles following Israel’s rejection of Him.

Widowhood speaks of spiritual destitution, and such is the spiritual state of all, Jew and Gentile alike, who haven’t trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

4:27.  “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus (Elisha) the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.”

This continues to declare the truth that Israel’s history would repeat itself.  There were many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha, but because the nation had rejected God He passed them by and sent the prophet to heal Naaman the Gentile.  So would it be with the Israel to which Christ came two thousand years ago.  He would turn to the Gentiles following His rejection by Israel, but here the emphasis is on cleansing from sin as the great need of the whole human race, for all are spiritual lepers.  But again, this was the one thing Israel vehemently denied.  She viewed the Gentiles as spiritual lepers, but herself as clean in God’s sight, even though to Him she was equally leprous, and therefore equally in need of healing.

4:28.  “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,”

They understood perfectly what He had said, and their furious response foreshadowed the response of the nation.  They would not acknowledge their need of cleansing from sin, nor could they in their self-righteous pride bear the thought of being told that in God’s sight they were in exactly the same spiritual state as the despised and hated Gentiles.  Blind to their true state, and obsessed with their legalistic self-righteousness, they were looking, not for a Messiah Who was God’s Lamb Whose blood alone could cleanse them, but for the coming of the Messiah as the Lion of Judah, failing to realize that apart from cleansing by Messiah’s atoning blood, they were unfit to enter His kingdom.

4:29.  “And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.”

This early attempt to slay Him was the first expression of Israel’s venomous hatred that would not be satisfied until she had killed Him.

4:30.  “But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”

His hour had not yet come.  God miraculously preserved Him, and we may perhaps be meant to see in this the truth that even when His hour had come, and they crucified Him, God again miraculously delivered Him out of their hands by raising Him from among the dead, His resurrection placing Him forever beyond the reach of man’s hatred.

4:31.  “And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.”

Capernaum means village of comfort; and Galilee, a circuit (as enclosed, or rolled around).  Galilee is associated with faith and the believing remnant of Israel.  Capernaum’s reception of His words was in keeping with the meaning of the name: it must have been a comfort to the Lord to find His ministry welcomed there.  Galilee also, in the meaning of its name, announces the truth that those who receive God’s Word place themselves within the circle of His protecting care.

4:32.  “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.”

The Lord’s ministry was refreshingly different from that of the Scribes who simply quoted the ancient writings of former rabbinical teachers.  The Lord, on the other hand, interpreted the Scriptures authoritatively Himself.

This may not be taken to imply that His words lacked power in Nazareth.  It is the attitude of man’s heart that makes the difference.  Where the mind is closed against the truth, the Holy Spirit can neither work conviction, nor give enlightenment.  Where there is a submissive spirit, He can do both.

4:33.  “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil (demon), and cried out with a loud voice,”

4:34.  “Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.”

In verse 33 “devil” is properly “demon.”  There are many demons, but only one devil, Satan.  The afflicted man’s being in the synagogue reminds us that Satan has his agents not only in the haunts of sin, but also in the halls of religion.  The demon’s total control of his victim is revealed in that the voice was that of the man, but the words were those of the demons, for it seems that he was indwelt by more than the one which spoke.  The vast distance between their unclean state and that of the spotless Son of God is declared in the question, “What have we to do with thee?”

There is also significance in the demon’s describ­ing the Lord as, “thou Jesus of Nazareth,” and in the assertion, “I know thee who thou art: the Holy One of God.”  The demon knew what many of the Jews refused to believe: Jesus of Nazareth, the supposed carpenter’s Son, was the Son of God.  Recognition of the Lord’s power is also declared in the other question, “Art thou come to destroy us?”  This was the acknowledgment of the truth that since Christ had the power to destroy the demons, He had also the power to destroy their king, Satan.

4:35.  “And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.  And when the devil (demon) had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.”

The Lord would permit no testimony from such an unholy source.  Only the redeemed are privileged to be His witnesses.  The malignant hatred of the demons is revealed in that even as they were compelled to come out of the man they threw him down, but the Lord kept them from hurting him.

4:36.  “And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

“What a word is this” is literally, “What is there in this man’s words?” or, “What almighty power is in this man’s words!”  It was not only that His preaching and teaching had convicting, convincing power: He had power also to command the obedience of demons whom all men feared, and whom no man could control.

4:37.  “And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.”

Unlike Nazareth where they refused to believe in Him, in Galilee there was faith, and in response the Lord performed many miracles which confirmed their faith and produced their willing testimony to the surrounding country.  And so is it still.  Believing obedient faith is confirmed, not now by physical miracles, but by the Spirit’s illumination of the written Word, this in turn producing a willing testimony in the Gospel.

4:38.  “And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s (Peter’s) house.  And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.”

4:39.  “And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.”

The fact that the Lord rebuked the fever, indicates perhaps that it may have been demoniacally induced, but as in the previous case there was no power on the part of the demon or demons to resist the Lord’s command.  And as the previous miracle resulted in a testimony to the surrounding country, so here also there was an attendant activity, “She rose and ministered unto them.”

The testimony to the surrounding country points to a Gospel ministry to the unconverted, but here the ensuing activity speaks of ministry to the household of faith.  Both should be the normal response of every believer.  We who has known the Savior’s healing touch in putting away our sin, in delivering us from Satan’s bondage, and from the fevered activity of the flesh, surely ought to express our gratitude in a diligent spread of the Gospel, and in a faithful ministry to fellow believers.

4:40.  “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.”

The fact that the Lord performed these healings “when the sun was setting” reminds us that, as often in Scripture, the literal is but the symbol of a higher spiritu­al truth.  For Israel “the sun was setting,” her day of opportunity drawing to a close, her blind unbelief leading her to crucify her Messiah, with the result that He in resurrection turned to the Gentiles to lead them into the greater light of a new day brighter than that produced by the rising of any sun: the light of God’s eternal day which will never know a sunset.  Nor should we miss the significance of the fact that these miraculous healings were in Galilee, which, as noted already, is always associated with the believing remnant of Israel.  It was that same believing remnant that became the nucleus of the Christian Church, its faith making it heir of better blessings than those forfeited by the unbelief of the apostate nation.

Sunset marked the end of the Sabbath, and the coming of the crowds at that hour indicates that they refused to come earlier lest they profane the Sabbath.  One lesson at least being conveyed here is that the law can bring no deliverance either from the bondage or the consequences of sin.  Those who would be healed must come to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust Him as Savior.

4:41.  “And devils (demons) came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God.  And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.”

It is a sorry commentary on the spiritual state of Israel that with all her professed knowledge of God, she was more ignorant of Him than were the unclean demons.  A professing, but apostate church today is guilty of the same ignorance.  And as already noted, the Lord’s refusing to permit the demons to speak is meant to teach us that only believers are privileged to be His witnesses.

4:42.  “And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.”

How different was Galilee from Nazareth!  In Nazareth they expelled Him and tried to kill Him, but in Galilee they couldn’t bear to see Him leave.  This is the difference between unbelief and faith.  The unconverted hate Christ: true believers love Him.

4:43.  “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.”

4:44.  “And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.”

As has been noted already, the Gospel preached to Israel by the Lord and His disciples was one which called upon them to repent, trust Him as Savior, and be baptized, so that they might enter the millennial kingdom which He would establish after He had died to make atonement for men’s sins, and after His resurrect­ion, and the pouring out of the Tribulation judgments in the ensuing seven years, that era of judgment being brought to an end by His return in power and glory to set up His millennial kingdom, the conclusion of that kingdom ending earth’s history a thousand years ago.  Israel’s refusal to receive the King, however, has resulted in postponement of the kingdom, the renewal of the offer being postponed until after the rapture of the Church, an event now imminent.

Incidentally, some translations render this verse, “And he preached in the synagogues of Judea,” i.e., His preaching extended beyond the region of Galilee.

[Luke 5]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough