The following is a summary of the sermon I preached on Sunday, March 19, 2017:
Part 4 of Jesus-Style. Luke 4:38-41
March 19, 2017. The Cornerstone Church.
PRAYER and BIBLE READING - LUKE 4:38-41
Luke’s project is to present Jesus as the promised Messiah. As I mentioned last week, the Messiah is an eternal King who delivers Israel and restores the nation to God. The Messiah is the Savior or Redeemer or Rescuer - and not just for Israel, but for all who will follow him. And not just from political or medical or social problems. He rescues us from sin, Satan, death, and hell.
During his ministry in the region of Galilee, Jesus proved his unique identity through works of immense power. He had supernatural authority in preaching, in casting out demons, and in healing the sick.
Last Sunday, we spent all our time focused on Jesus’ unique power and authority. Today, I want to highlight his compassion. His compassion is a revelation of the character of God. This passage is designed to make us think: Jesus has the irresistible, powerful, compassion that only God can display. And this should prompt us to love and worship and obey Jesus as God.
Here’s my outline for this morning:
God is full of powerful compassion.
Jesus is full of powerful compassion.
Therefore, Jesus is God and we should love and worship and obey Him.
A. GOD IS FULL OF POWERFUL COMPASSION
When Moses asked the Lord to reveal his glory, here’s what happened:
6 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful (compassionate) and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,”
This is GOD 101, the bare essentials, the distilled revelation of the character of God and it is synonym after synonym for his compassion - merciful, gracious, loving, forgiving.
Psalm 103 shows another dimension of God’s compassion:
13 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
We’re weak, frail, and vulnerable. And the Lord is so majestic and mighty. Aren’t we expecting him to crush us under the weight of his glory? NO! He is a compassionate father to us. He is tender. He picks us up and carries us. He protects us.
What are these verses telling us? (I have six pages of verses just like them). God is powerfully compassionate. He is compassionate enough to care and powerful enough to help.
Next, I want us all to see that the same powerful compassion God displayed, is clearly on display in the healing miracles done by Jesus .
B. JESUS IS FULL OF POWERFUL COMPASSION.
Let’s go back to our passage in Luke.
Jesus finished up at the synagogue and walked a short distance to Simon’s home. Before the Apostle Peter was called Peter, his given name was Simon. He lived and worked in Capernaum. He was married and had children and his mother-in-law lived with him. Mark’s Gospel (1:29-30) tells us that Andrew and James and John were all there too. This is shortly before Jesus called them all to be his disciples.
It’s time for Sabbath lunch - a major meal; a sit down with family and guests. I want you to think about the situation. Moments before, Jesus had unveiled immense power - divine power - in his teaching and in casting out a demon. People were stunned. Jesus is like a nuclear reactor; he buzzes with supernatural authority. He’s definitely not safe. Would you have invited him home for lunch?
Well, they did. But there’s a problem: Simon’s mother-in-law was dangerously sick. She had a very high fever because of an infection and in the days before antibiotics, that often led to death. Everyone in the house knows Jesus can heal. Luke 4:23 tells us that Jesus had already done healing Capernaum. But are you going to be the one asking him for anything?
Either they were so desperate or they knew that Jesus was not only powerful, but compassionate. So … verse 38: “they appealed to him on her behalf.” That reminds me of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13). And the men who lowered their crippled friend through the roof (Luke 5:17-39). Jesus had a reputation as a compassionate healer - someone who cared about people in pain and could really do something about it.
Which is exactly what we now see. In Mark’s account, Jesus held the sick woman’s hand and lifted her up. Here, Luke tells us Jesus also spoke, verse 39: “he rebuked the fever.” That’s the compassion. Now see how powerful it was, verse 39: “the fever left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.”
Jesus spoke a word and she was totally healed. There was no process. No period of recovery. No bed rest. She got up and got busy in the kitchen with the others preparing the big meal. We’re supposed to think: “Mmmmmm. This isn’t normal. This is God at work. Wait … What? … Jesus is God at work. Wowzer!”
Before we move to some conclusions about how to respond to Jesus the powerful and compassionate God, I need to do some pastoral intervention.
Here’s why. There’s a way of thinking about healing that isn’t helpful and it isn’t biblical. You see it on TV with the so-called faith-healers and you might have friends who believe this. They say: “God wants to heal all sickness now, today. If we’re not healed, it’s because we don’t have faith.” I’ve seen the spiritual wreckage that creates.
So here’s my pastoral intervention:
God can and does heal the sick. But he does not do it through “faith-healers,” but through our prayers, through medicines, through doctors (James 5:13-16). Sometimes, God does not heal our sicknesses at all. He certainly does not heal on demand or according to our timetable.
There are no “healers” today - people who speak a word and people get totally well immediately. Jesus was a healer. The apostles and the 70 were healers for a little while, but eventually they stopped showing those kinds of miraculous signs. By the mid-first century, the signs of the apostles faded away (In Philippians 2:25-30, we read about Epaphroditus, who was sick and almost died. If Paul was a “healer,” wouldn’t he have rebuked the ideas and made Epaphroditus well?).
Miraculous healing had a definite and limited purpose: they were temporary signs to prove that Jesus is Messiah - to authenticate his identity and his message - Gospel.
Some of us will endure years of sickness. It does NOT mean that God has turned his back or that he doesn’t care (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). It does NOT mean we lack faith to “claim our miracle.” It means that God is asking us to imitate Christ, who suffered but stayed firm in faith and obedience. The Lord gives us the grace to endure (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). He uses the fire of sickness to refine and strengthen our Christ-likeness (James 1:2-4).
When Christ returns, all believers will be fully and permanently healed. We’ll be raised from the dead and we’ll be in glorious, eternal bodies that never get sick and never die (1 Corinthians 15:42-53 and Revelation 21:1-7).
Luke wasn't writing a manual on faith healing. He was writing a biography of Jesus. Luke doesn’t portray Jesus as our example to follow. He portrays him as God, as unique, as worthy to love and worship and obey.
C. JESUS IS GOD; WE SHOULD LOVE AND WORSHIP AND OBEY HIM.
If you’ll take a look at verses 40-41, you can see the response to the healing. Sick and demonized people rushed to Jesus. The passage wants to emphasize that friends brought everyone who was sick. As soon as the sun started to dip, marking the end of Sabbath and its travel restrictions, they crowded into town and lined-up at the door. Mark tells us that the whole town showed up to watch - 1:33. It’s the end of a long day, but Jesus received everyone. He served them until they were ALL helped, healed, or delivered. BECAUSE he is the the powerfully compassionate God.
Let me point out something very important. These healings in Capernaum are the prelude to a much greater healing at the Cross. There, Jesus took upon himself the sin and suffering of the world. He bore the shame and the ruin caused by the Fall and by generations of sins and our own sins.
“He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” - Isaiah 53:5 NLT
As the judgment of God crushed Jesus there in our place, he obtained an eternal healing - a total healing of our body, mind, and spirit.
We can experience some of that healing immediately today. If you will turn from your sin and trust in Jesus, he will heal your spirit and cleanse you from sin. He will make you acceptable to God. He will seal you with his Spirit as a guarantee of a future, total healing - the transformation of our bodies into the likeness of his own body - raised, glorified, ready for eternity with him (1 Corinthians 15:51; Philippians 3:20-21).
All of this opens my heart to Jesus. He loved people. He cared. He had compassion. He served them. In the end, he died for them. God was revealing himself in his Son and what a beautiful revelation it is. Jesus is unique and he is worthy of our allegiance and adoration.
Now, right now, turn to Jesus. Trust him. Love him. Worship him. Obey him.