21 They went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

23 And at once in their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he shouted, 24 '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.' 25 But Jesus rebuked it saying, 'Be quiet! Come out of him!' 26 And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. 27 The people were so astonished that they started asking one another what it all meant, saying, 'Here is a teaching that is new, and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.' 28 And his reputation at once spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

29 And at once on leaving the synagogue, he went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed and feverish, and at once they told him about her. 31 He went in to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. 33 The whole town came crowding round the door, 34 and he cured many who were sick with diseases of one kind or another; he also drove out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. 36 Simon and his companions set out in search of him, 37 and when they found him they said, 'Everybody is looking for you.' 38 He answered, 'Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can proclaim the message there too, because that is why I came.'

39 And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out devils. 40 A man suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to him and pleaded on his knees saying, 'If you are willing, you can cleanse me.' 41 Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' 42 And at once the skin-disease left him and he was cleansed. 43 And at once Jesus sternly sent him away and said to him, 44 'Mind you tell no one anything, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing prescribed by Moses as evidence to them.' 45 The man went away, but then started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed outside in deserted places. Even so, people from all around kept coming to him.

COMMENTS

General:

  • Traveling (on foot), the disciples and Jesus come to the synagogue of  Capernaum (v.21).
    • This was Jesus' second home, after Nazareth, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
    • The name of the town means "village of Nahum" [the prophet].
    • The foundations of the synagogue still stand today!
    • Jesus intends to teach and heal on the sabbath. As a man of conviction and authority -- a huge contrast to the lame teaching the people were used to -- he makes an impact.
  • A man with an unclean spirit "shows up to church" (v.22).
    • The demon recognizes Jesus and fears immediate judgment (vv.23-24).
    • Jesus exorcizes the spirit (vv.25-26).
    • The crowds are awed, and Jesus' reputation spreads (vv.27-28).
  • Jesus, leaving the synagogue with two of his apostles, enters the house of Simon and Andrew (v.29).
    • Here he heals Simon Peter's mother-in-law (vv.30-31). Obviously Peter was married. (So much for claim's of papal celibacy.)
    • She begins to serve as soon as Jesus' heals her. Even so, as soon as Jesus touches our lives, we need to serve others. (In fact, we can't help it.)
  • Word spreads and that evening it seems the whole town has gathered at the door (vv.32-34)!
    • He heals the sick and the possessed. The Bible does not say possession was only a primitive explanation for mental illness. Physical and mental health are part of Jesus' healing ministry.
    • Jesus would not allow those he healed to spread the word, as he knew this was accelerate his arrest. He still had several years of ministry to carry out before his inevitable clash with the religious authorities.
  • He leaves the home of Peter and Andrew early in the morning. Aware that another day of demanding service confronted him, he withdrew in order to "recharge his batteries," spiritually speaking (v.35).
    • Jesus prayed in the early morning in this passage, while in other passages we see him praying at various times of the day. Jesus seems to have grabbed time for prayer when he could and as needed.
      • Some teach that all Christians must have a "quiet time" in the morning, but the Bible does not support this kind of legalism.
      • Still, a daily quiet time is a wholesome practice.
        • Many passages enjoin daily prayer.
        • For many Christians (like me!), morning is far and away the best time to "withdraw." The later we leave it, the less likely it is to happen. (Right?)
    • Whether he was interrupted or just finishing his prayer time, Jesus is eventually found (vv.36-37). He was right to get away, so heavy were the demands on his time.
    • Jesus is now ready to continue preaching (v.38). You cannot miss his strong sense of mission. In fact, there are around 80 verses in the NT highlighting Jesus' purpose for coming to earth.
  • Jesus' ministry in Galilee continues (vv.39ff).
    • Jesus used the synagogues as forums for declaring the gospel.
    • Someone with a terrible skin disease wonders whether Jesus wants to heal him.
      • Jesus is more than willing (v.41)!
      • Jesus warns him not to create unwanted publicity (v.44).
        • At first blush, this sounds like Jesus is telling him not to be genuine, not to share his faith. But this is far from he truth.
        • The man disobeyed Jesus, which hampered Jesus' ministry.
        • There were still plenty of opportunities to teach and touch others' lives, but Jesus had to be much more careful.
      • Jesus did however tell him to present himself to the priests. They are the only ones who were intended to know of his cleansing.
        • Leviticus 13-14 required that an offering be made.
        • Such a person was not allowed access to the temple. This would reconnect him with the covenant community and the presence of God.
      • Because of the unwanted publicity, Jesus is forced to spend time away from the population centers (v.45). And even then people continue to stream to him!
  • The entire chapter, which we have examined in three sessions, paints the picture of a driven man leading an extremely active life and affecting people everywhere he went. May we be the same!

Advanced:

  • The Pharisees had their scribes (v.22). Yet so did the Sadducees and the Essenes.
  • The virulent skin disease (v.40) may not have been leprosy. Many experts believe that leprosy did not come to the Holy Land until the Middle Ages -- hence the footnote in many Bible that the word translated leprosy may not have been Hansen's Disease.
  • For more on demon possession, click here. This is a long but very good article. Be sure to scroll down to see the author's reasons why cases of "possession" today are bogus.

Thought questions:

  • Do I plan my day to accomplish the greatest good, to help as many people as possible?
  • Do I rely on prayer to draw the divine strength I will need to reach my goals?
  • Do I inwardly doubt God's willingness to cleanse me? Jesus says, "I am willing."