Expository Sermon on Luke 4 and 5
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 3/13/2021
©2021 by Maylan Schurch
(To watch the YouTube broadcast of this worship service, click the link below:)
Please open your Bibles to Luke chapter 4.
This week I’m beginning a new sermon series called “Journeys with Jesus.” What I’m going to be focusing on are the interactions Jesus had, and teachings which Jesus gave, while He was walking along with His disciples.
If you have a Bible that prints the words of Jesus in red, you know that the sermon on the Mount, and good portions of John, and large parts of the other Gospels, are pretty much solid red.
But we’re going to look at the sometimes-neglected smaller segments of red print – those times when Jesus was walking along, and somebody approached Him with a question, or somebody else approached Him begging to be healed, or a scribe or a Pharisee approached Him with a trick question, or sometimes a serious question.
Often, Jesus’ responses in these situations are brief, and sometimes seem to be abrupt. But I believe that they are just as valuable as His longer teachings. Because often, they come in response to people who do have individual questions or problems, and who come to Jesus for help.
And my hope, as the series goes along, is that you and I will journey along with Jesus as we watch and listen to Him.
Back when Shelley and I were married, I was a college English teacher. So for our honeymoon, we flew to England. Shelley had spent months working with the travel agent to find economy lodgings and little tours we could take. I remember that one of the books she looked at was called something like England on $5 a Day. She and I spent several days in England, and went to Edinburgh Scotland for a bit. We traveled to Stratford, the birthplace of Shakespeare, and even saw one of his plays performed in a little theater there.
One of the features we planned into the trip was the Round London Bus Tour. A group of tourists, including us, gathered just outside a tour bus, and a jaunty Britisher named Johnny introduced himself. He was dressed in a gray suit, as I remember, and he carried a tightly rolled black umbrella. He never opened that umbrella – he never had to, because it didn’t rain.
Johnny began to tell us some very important things about the tour he would be taking us for the next few hours. He told us the places we would visit, and how with some of them we could go inside. And the more we listened to that orientation, the gladder we were that we hadn’t just chosen to ride around on top of one of the city buses, but had put ourselves under the care of Johnny.
Maybe the most important thing Johnny told us was about his umbrella. He showed it to us, and then held it up at arm’s length. He said, “As I lead you through our tour sites, make sure that you watch my umbrella. When you see my umbrella pointing up like this, it means we are about to leave for another destination. So watch my umbrella! I can’t be responsible for you if you don’t follow me back to the bus!”
And we did have a great tour that day. We drove by Buckingham palace, Johnny chattering about the who was probably at home right then. We actually went into Westminster Abby. We drove through Piccadilly. We saw the Tower of London, and drove over London Bridge. And when we were off the bus, Shelley and I never wandered too far. We looked at the historical sights, but we stayed alert for what Johnny’s umbrella was doing.
Journeying with Jesus must have been something like journeying with Johnny. After all, when you come to think of it, you and I are tourists on this planet. This earth is unfamiliar ground to each new generation. Did you ever think of that?
God created us, originally, to live forever—yet we’ve been trapped here with death on every horizon. No wonder we have such a hard time dealing with death. Death-acceptance was not wired into our brains. Even though it’s been happening for years, we can’t get used to it.
God’s original plan was for us to be eternally healthy, but we’re trapped in bodies which ache and are sometimes disabled. God’s original plan was for us to see Him and talk with Him face to face, yet sin cause Him to back away, for our safety.
So we are tourists here, in so many ways. And if we think we’re tourists, think of what Jesus must’ve felt like. He is the ultimate tourist. Yet He is also the “Johnny,” tasked with leading the rest of us safely through to eternity, to our real homeland.
Because like the earthly Johnny, Jesus knows where to take us. He knows what we need to know.
And He is a credible tour guide. That seems to have been the point of the Bible passage we’re looking at this morning. These events happened at the very beginning of His ministry. Earlier here in Luke 4 Jesus faced His wilderness temptation. Then He gave His inaugural sermon in His hometown synagogue.
And each of the events we’ll be looking at this morning shows Jesus’ power over some part of life. I can find three challenges Jesus has power over in the verses we’re about to look at. And since these challenges face us as we move into each new week, we need Jesus to clearly remind us of His power over it.
Let’s hunt for the first challenge.
Luke 4:38 – 40 [NKJV]: Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.
What’s the first thing Jesus has power over? Here comes Sermon Point One if you’re taking notes.
Jesus has power over illness and disability.
It seems as though word about the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law must have spread rapidly, which may be why suddenly there were hordes and hordes of sick people who gathered around. And it says that Jesus laid His hands on each person and healed them.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have Jesus among us today? It’s tempting to ask the question, “Why doesn’t Jesus heal everyone we pray about today?”
That’s a tough question. I’ve had to deal with that myself. My parents were godly people of prayer, and once, years ago, they prayed for a lady on a neighboring farm. This lady had so much cancer within her that from what my parents told me, the doctors opened her up, saw what was there, and just closed her back up and told her to prepare for the end.
Mom and Dad prayed for her. And when the doctors did a follow-up on her, they said she was cancer free, and she lived a good number of years afterward.
But fast-forward to when my own father got leukemia, and had full-blown diabetes and Mom had to drive him 50 miles one way three times a week to get infusions. He prayed, and Mom prayed, and we four kids prayed. Other people prayed. Yet Dad passed to his rest. Four years later Mom got liver cancer, and again we prayed, and mom passed to her rest.
So why did God heal the neighbor, and not the people who prayed for the neighbor? I think we partly get the answer in Bible stories like the one we’re reading through now.
You see, we live in a cause-and-effect world. God designed it that way. Except that He placed us in the Garden of Eden at first, and there, all of the causes would have had good effects if Adam and Eve hadn’t disobeyed God.
And we must never forget that there is a real devil, a real deceiver, a real accuser. In the first couple of chapters of the book of Job, Satan accused God of treating Job well because Job kept voting for God. Satan accused Job of being a good boy only in order to earn God’s blessings. Satan said, “Job doesn’t have real faith—there’s no such thing! The minute things turn bad, he’ll turn his back on God.”
So maybe, today, if Jesus gave every certified Christian the ability to heal every sick person, maybe Satan would accuse God of not allowing the natural cause-and-effect process to work. Maybe he would accuse God of limiting our freedom to do what we want and pay the real consequences. Maybe he would call us all Jobs.
So, even though no one can guarantee anyone healing through prayer – it is God that decides how to act in each situation – why is it important to remember that Jesus has power over illness and disability?
The answer, of course, is the resurrection.
Isaiah 35:4 – 6: Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.
Philippians 3:20 – 21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Jesus has power over illness and disability. And if He doesn’t choose to fully heal us here, He will do more than fully heal us there. He will provide us with brand-new, un-sin-scarred bodies and minds.
But now let’s look at what else Jesus has power over.
Luke 4:40 -41: When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.
What’s something else Jesus has power over?
Jesus not only has power over illness and disability, but Jesus also has power over Satan.
As Shelley and I were following jaunty Johnny around London, there were a lot of fascinating things to see. There were little alleyways we could have ducked down to explore. There were little gift shops we could have dived into.
But if we had done that, we would have lost sight of Johnny’s umbrella. We couldn’t see into the future. We didn’t know where Johnny would be taking us next, and we didn’t know the directions. But Johnny knew – and we knew that his up-raised umbrella would guide us safely to the next adventure, and the next, and the next after that, as long as we kept him in sight.
Satan is the great deceiver, the great enticer. He’s the one who stands just inside the alleyways, beckoning seductively. He’s the shop-owner who wants to sell us what would damage and destroy us.
Which is why it’s so important, as we journey with Jesus, to keep our eyes on where He is going. And even though Jesus nor the rest of the Bible did much obsessing about the devil, as we journey with Jesus, we need to watch how He handled Satan.
Back at the beginning of Luke 4, during His wilderness temptation, Jesus met Satan’s insinuation with Bible verses. All of those verses, interestingly enough, came from Deuteronomy, so it might be a good idea for us to read Deuteronomy through. Jesus quoted other parts of the Bible too, so it’s good to stay familiar with God’s Word.
Even though you think you know a Bible story well, since you were taught it as a child, you need to read it again, thoughtfully and slowly, because you will see very important things now, that you never could have at age 12. And at age 12, you’ll see things you were never able to see at age 8.
And as we journey with Jesus, we must remember that Satan, though still very dangerous, is a defeated enemy. Revelation 12:12 sends both a chill of fear and thrill of joy through my chest as I read it. “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” The devil is desperately angry, but he doesn’t have long in power.
Now let’s look at one more thing Jesus has power over.
Luke 4:42 – 43: Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Notice something interesting there? When the local people tried to make Him a local person so that He could keep healing people and maybe even become a tourist draw, Jesus stated His purpose. He did not say, “I must heal a lot of people in the other cities also.” Instead, He said, “I must preach the kingdom of God . . . because for this purpose I have been sent.”
Sadly, a lot of Christians these days assign their own purposes to Jesus. Some say that Jesus will make you wealthy if you do certain things, like donating to a certain TV ministry whose stars live in mansions and drive expensive cars.
Some say that Jesus’ purpose is to make you popular. And some say that if you have enough faith, your physical ailments will be healed.
But that’s not the purpose Jesus identifies with. He was sent to preach the kingdom of God.
The “health and wealth” gospel I just mentioned is a seductive one. But let’s keep reading and see how Jesus handles this.
Luke 5:1: So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God . . . .
Let just pause there for a moment. Isn’t that fascinating? A few verses back we saw people hurrying into Jesus’ presence with every sick person they could grab or carry. But now we see this group of people crowding in, fascinated at what He was saying about God.
Let’s pick up the story:
Luke 5:1 – 3: So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
Which was a very sensible thing to do. If you’ve ever stood on the shore of a lake and had a conversation with someone in a kayak or canoe out in the water, you notice that – unless there is a lot of wind or other noise – you can hear that person on the water quite clearly. So Jesus sat in the boat, and His voice was amplified by reflecting off the water, and into the hungry ears of his hearers.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to hear what Jesus said? I suppose that whether you liked those words or not would depend on your personal attitude. The Pharisees heard the same words as the ordinary people, but their reactions were different.
But finally Jesus concludes His remarks. And then He glances around to find Simon Peter. Remember, the two are already acquainted. A few verses back, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. And Peter is probably just as amazed as everyone else about what Jesus says about God’s kingdom.
And then Jesus makes a suggestion. When I was younger, I used to think that maybe Jesus made this next move as a thank-you gesture for the use of Peter’s boat. But watch carefully, because I believe we’re going to discover a challenge Jesus has power over.
Verses 4 – 5: When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
Again, when I was younger I was very impressed that Peter would go against a fishermen’s common sense and throw out those nets in the daytime, when the fish can see your boat looming directly overhead, blotting out the sun.
But you see, Simon Peter had already developed a deep trust in Jesus. He had just seen too much. He’d seen Jesus’ power over illness and disability. He’d seen Jesus’ power over the forces of Satan.
So out goes the boat – I don’t know how far offshore they went – and down go the nets. And in crowd the fish.
Verses 6 – 7: And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Have you ever wondered whether Jesus summoned all the fish in the lake to that spot at that moment? Or maybe Jesus multiplied these live, wiggly fish the way, in chapter 9, He multiplied fish that was cooked and ready to eat.
Simon Peter grows suddenly weak at the knees, and falls down before Jesus.
Verse 8: When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Because Peter has discovered what to him might be Jesus’ greatest power yet.
Peter discovered that Jesus not only has power over illness and disability, and power over Satan’s forces, but Jesus has power over my livelihood.
Today in the responses to our Question of the Week, we heard a couple of stomach-dropping, breath-taking stories where people faced what seemed like an impossible challenge, yet stepped forward at the encouragement of God.
Because in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, maybe some parts of which He preached to that lakeside crowd, Jesus is very clear that if we seek the kingdom of God, we don’t have to worry.
Let’s listen to Jesus’ exact words. Turn to Matthew chapter 6.
Matthew 6:25 – 34: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Encouraging words, spoken by someone who is both life’s ultimate tour guide, and this planet’s ultimate tourist. Johnny lifted his umbrella, and Jesus lifted His hands to receive the cross-nails.
Then He beckons us onward, urging us to follow Him deeper into a relationship in which the things and the troubles and the agonies of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
Next Sabbath we’ll continue our journeys with Jesus, but now let’s sing a tourist song, pilgrim song, as we close. It’s a simple melody, but it expresses exactly what we’ve been saying this morning.
“I’m But a Stranger Here,” (445)