Jesus Heals A Man With An Unclean Spirit
From now the story of Jesus becomes very exciting. Guess how many fulltime followers were at His side? Peter and his brother Andre, John and his brother James. They were fully committed to Jesus and were looking forward to their first assignment.
Listen to Mark’s account of what happened:
Mark 1:21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
1:22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
1:23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,
1:24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
1:25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”
1:26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
1:27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
1:28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.
What caused initial this excitement and acceptance of Jesus? Before I tell you, let’s look at the location of Capernaum.
At Capernaum Jesus dwelt in the intervals of His journeys to and fro, and it came to be known as “His own city.” It was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and near the borders of the beautiful plain of Gennesaret, if not actually upon it.
The ruins will tell you that the deep depression of the lake gives to the plain that skirts its shores the genial climate of the south.
Here in the days of Christ flourished the palm tree and the olive, here were orchards and vineyards, green fields, and brightly blooming flowers in rich luxuriance, all watered by living streams bursting from the cliffs.
The shores of the lake, and the hills that at a little distance encircle it, were dotted with towns and villages. The lake was covered with fishing boats. Everywhere was the stir of busy, active life.
Capernaum itself was well adapted to be the center of the Saviour’s work. Being on the highway from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, and to the Mediterranean Sea, it was a great thoroughfare of travel.
People from many lands passed through the city, or tarried for rest in their journeyings to and fro. Here Jesus could meet all nations and all ranks, the rich and great as well as the poor and lowly, and His lessons would be carried to other countries and into many households. Investigation of the prophecies would thus be excited, attention would be directed to the Saviour, and His mission would be brought before the world.
Notwithstanding the action of the Sanhedrin against Jesus, the people eagerly awaited the development of His mission. All heaven was astir with interest. Angels were preparing the way for His ministry, moving upon men’s hearts, and drawing them to the Saviour.
WHAT CAUSED THE INITIAL, THE FIRST GREAT INTEREST IN THE WORK OF JESUS AT CAPERNAUM?
Let’s ask John to give us the positive reasons. It was the healing of the son of an Official.
John 4:46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
4:47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
4:48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
4:49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
4:51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
4:52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
4:53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
4:54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
Let’s carefully investigate this important information:
John 4:46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
Jesus was now among friends, who had already witnessed divine power at work through Him. What information do we have of socalled Nobleman?
He is a royal official, a courtier of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. This “nobleman” was a Jew. Some have suggested identifying this “nobleman” with Chuza (Luke 8:3) or Manaen (Acts 13:1), officials of Herod who became Christians.
Christ and the “nobleman” were in Cana, and the son at Capernaum, some 25 km. distant. Jesus had visited Capernaum approximately one year prior to this time, but there is no record of any public work conducted there at that time.
4:47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
The rapid spread of the report of Jesus’ return to Galilee testifies to His popularity. This is the first recorded instance of a request for healing, though miracles in general have already been mentioned.
His son was at the point of death. Human wisdom and skill could do no more, and as a final resort the father made the trip to Cana in the hope of persuading Jesus to return immediately with him to Capernaum.
4:48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
What did Jesus detect in the Nobleman’s request? His request was conditional. Only if Jesus should heal his son he would believe in Him.
Jesus always required unquestioning and unconditional faith before divine power could be exercised.
In contrast, the people of Samaria had recently taken Him at His word and received Him heartily, in simple faith. Let’s read about their faith in Jesus
John 4:40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
John 4:41 And many more believed because of His own word.
John 4:42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
John 4:43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.
Jesus was grieved that His own countrymen were so slow to believe. He had a greater gift for the nobleman than the one he had come to ask for, the gift of salvation, and He could not bestow the lesser gift, the healing of the son, without the greater.
Let’s go back to Cana.
4:49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
The needed transformation took place in a moment. Realizing that Jesus read his heart, the father saw that his own motives had been selfish. He saw that his only hope of saving the boy lay in the exercise of unquestioning, unconditional faith, and unhesitatingly surrendered his unbelief and false pride. Here he refers affectionately to his son as a “little child,” a different Greek word from that translated “son” in v. 46.
4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
Can you imagine this unbelievable moment in his life? Once the necessary transformation had taken place, there was no delay in the granting of the request, although in a way the father had not expected. He had besought Jesus to “come down” to Capernaum, but Jesus told him simply, “Go thy way.”
Thus the nobleman was required to depart without evidence that his request had been granted. His faith was put to the test. He must take the gift, if at all, by faith. He must act in faith, believing that he had received what he came to ask for.
The Greek expresses the idea that the son not only “lives,” but that he will keep on living.
It had been his intention to see before he would believe; now he accepted Jesus at His word. He acted in faith, and as a result peace and joy filled his heart.
4:51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
The ruins of Cana says the journey home would normally have taken four or five hours, and could easily have been made the same afternoon. Anxious as the father had been for the life of his son, his new-found faith grasped the reality of the precious gift he had received, and he made no undue haste to return.
His servants met the following morning, while he was still some distance from home.
4:52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” That is, about 1:00 p.m.
4:53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
The cause and effect relationship was evident. Had the healing taken place earlier or later, there might have remained a question as to whether it should be attributed to some other cause than the will and words of Jesus.
The word is here used in the absolute sense. The father accepted Jesus as the Messiah, or, as we would say, he became a Christian. The results of this miracle were far reaching. The lad was healed, the entire family believed, and the way was prepared for Jesus when, some six months later, He made Capernaum the center of His ministry in Galilee (see on Luke 4:31).
4:54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.
Proclaiming the good news of a loving Father in heaven that is interested in trials and pain of every single human being, brought forth fruit. This was a different God than the One the priests explained to them.
NEXT TIME
The exceptional sermon Jesus preached to the audience at the synagogue of Capernaum. More on the causes of the unclean man’s situation.