Rejoicing in Partnership for the Gospel

After explaining how the Philippians can maintain pure conduct before God (Philippians 2.12-18), Paul turns his attention to two brothers in Christ who have meant a great deal to him during his ministry: Timothy and Epaphroditus. These passages are often overlooked by Christians, but they communicate the deep heartfelt affection of Paul for his fellow laborers in the faith.

Timothy’s Service (2.19-24)

Timothy is an example of selfless service in the gospel with Paul pursuing Christ’s interests

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.

I hope…to you soon: His hope was not in himself—his power, intelligence, abilities, etc. Paul’s confident expectation in the Lord Jesus was to send Timothy to the Philippians. Even as he was convinced of his remaining, coming, and helping of the Philippians (1.25-26), so he was expecting to send Timothy.

So that…news of you: Here is the purpose for sending Timothy—Paul wants to hear about how the Philippians are doing. Timothy will help the Philippians by his presence and counsel and will help Paul with his report of their Christian life.

20For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.

For I have no one like him: Lit. like-minded or equal in soul. Paul and Timothy are of the same mind and attitude. Think of all the traveling companions the apostle Paul and then consider this statement. Timothy was a man after Paul’s own heart.

Who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare: Paul’s heart was for the Philippians; so too was Timothy’s. They shared the same concern and interest in the Philippians’ spiritual wellbeing. They faced the daily anxiety for all the churches (cf. 2 Cor 11.28).

21For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

For they all…of Jesus Christ: That is, all those available to him. It seems doubtful that Luke would fall under this category; perhaps he was minister elsewhere and was not with Paul. While those around Paul are “brothers” (4.21), they are apparently not as willing as Timothy to spend and be spent for the sake of others. Another theory: this is a sorrowful statement about the present condition of the world (full of selfishness and self-seeking) and having a brother like Timothy is a rare thing.

22But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

But you know Timothy’s proved worth: “know” is the kind of knowledge which comes by experience (Gk root ginosko). In fact, he had been to Philippi at least once (Acts 16).

How as a son…in the gospel: It was fitting for Timothy to labor (lit. slave, from Gk douleuo) like this with Paul since he was Paul’s “true child in the faith” (1 Tim 1.2; 2 Tim 1.2; 1 Cor 4.17). The kind of service mentioned here is done in a humble manner at the demands of another, i.e. slave. This is the kind of work Paul and Timothy engaged in as father and son. Timothy “was both a son and servant of St. Paul, and also a fellow-worker with St. Paul, both being slaves of God” (Caffin 63).

23I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,

I hope therefore to send him: Whenever Paul wanted information about a congregation or wanted to encourage and build-up brethren and he personally could not go, Timothy went.

Just as soon…with me: Whether he will be released from prison or face a martyr’s death. This way Timothy would bring the report of Paul’s fate. This indicates there is no certainty about his future at the time of his writing.

24and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

And I trust…will come also: This is similar to what he said in 1.25-26. Paul is persuaded that what is needful is for him to continue in the body. He has come to this conclusion and holds to it (perfect tense). Only in the Lord can he look to the future with such confidence. “We do not know certainly what he meant by the term shortly. The uncertainty as to what whim might strike Nero was an uncertain thing to count upon” (Lipscomb 193). Coffman thinks this hope was probably fulfilled, pointing to Titus 3.12 as evidence.

Epaphroditus’ Sickness (2.25-30)

God spared Epaphroditus so that he could render further service to Paul & his brethren

25I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need,

I have thought…Epaphroditus: Epaphroditus is known only by this verse and 4.18. He is a different person that Epaphras, another co-worker of Paul’s—Epaphroditus was from Philippi, Epaphras was from Colossae. This man Paul was compelled to send back home.

My brother…minister to my need: Paul uses five (5) phrases to describe the usefulness of Epaphroditus. First, he is Paul’s (“my”) brother in Christ. Second, he is Paul’s fellow worker (Gk sunergon); he worked with Paul in the furtherance of the cause of Christ. Third, he is Paul’s fellow soldier; they had been through severe trials and tests together. Fourth, he is the Philippians’ (“your”) messenger (Gk apostolon); that is, he had been sent by the church. Fifth, he was Paul’s minister (Gk leitourgon, cf.v.17) on behalf of the Philippians. By conveying their contribution which is “a fragrant offering” (4.18) he renders a sacred service.

26for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.

For he has…he was ill: Barclay gives a reconstruction of the events surrounding this narrative. Epaphroditus was sent to Paul by the Philippians with their gift (see 1.5, 4.17-18) and in Rome he became sick (possibly with fever, which was common then). The sickness is not stated. Epaphroditus is eager to get back (and Paul eager to send him, v.28) to assuage the brethren’s fears. He longs for these Christians as Paul does (1.8); he is distressed as the Savior was (Mt 26.37).

27Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Indeed, he was ill, near to death: Whatever Epaphroditus came down with was serious.

But God had mercy on him: “But” draws sharp contrast (Gk alla) – not death, but life from God. Paul recognizes that God is the giver of life and health.

Not only on him…sorrow upon sorrow: There is the sorrow of his brother’s illness and, if he had died, the sorrow of his death which would have affected Paul. God’s mercy spared him these sorrows and made him “unsorrowful” (“less anxious,” v.28).

28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.

I am the more eager…I may be less anxious: the reunion of the Philippian saints with Epaphroditus would be a time to rejoice. Thus, Paul is sending back his brother to them, wanting them to experience the joy God gives at such reunions. Also, the reunion of the Philippians and Epaphroditus would give occasion for Paul to be “less anxious” (Lit. more un-grief).

29So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men,

So receive him in the Lord: Since Epaphroditus fulfilled his mission, his life spared by God, and he’s coming back home—welcome this broth back with arms wide open as the Lord Jesus welcomes us into His presence (cf. Rom 15.7).

With all joy, and honor such men: With heartfelt, unalloyed joy they are to welcome him. But also they are to esteem Epaphroditus and recognize how invaluable he is. Why? V.30

30for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

For he nearly died for the work of Christ: because when it comes to the work of Christ, Epaphroditus is a man who will risk life and limb to get the job done.

Risking his life: lit. handing life over. He was willing to expose himself to hazard.

To complete…your service to me: Epaphroditus risked his life so act as a ministering priest, presenting the sacred offering of their contribution to Paul. Others point to the presence of Epaphroditus as making up for the lack of presence of the Philippians (cf. 1 Cor 16.17).

Special Study—Why didn’t Paul heal Epaphroditus?

Paul had healed others miraculously (see Acts 28.8). Why not Epaphroditus? First, maybe he did. The text is relatively ambiguous and God could have used Paul as a conduit of his mercy (v.27). But the consensus among scholars is that Paul did not heal Epaphroditus and the why-question remains. Epaphroditus is not the only companion of Paul who was not healed (Trophimus in 2 Tim 4.20). Even though he had miraculous powers, the exercise of those powers were for a specific purpose (Mk 16.20) and were to be used at the discretion of God. That’s why certain companions were not healed and why Paul did not heal himself when afflicted (cf. 2 Cor 12.7-9).

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The Blind Man from Jericho

I know sign language and have a couple of deaf friends. I have sometimes wondered what it would be like if I were deaf. I could probably manage but it would be a radical change, especially since I have been able to hear all my life. But blindness…blindness scares me. Even when I have to wear a blindfold for a game or something, I don’t like it. The ability to see is such a precious gift that we too often take for granted. Imagine you have spent your whole life is darkness. By the time you are grown, it is business as usual; you are blind and that is your life. In Luke 18.35, we find a man in just such a circumstance. He has probably been blind since birth. His world is darkness. There aren’t many jobs a blind man can do so he is forced to beg. And he lives in Jericho…one of the towns Jesus of Nazareth is passing through on his way to Jerusalem.

The sightless one

Matthew’s gospel tells us there were two men (Matthew 20.29-30). Mark gives us a name: Bartimaeus (Mark 10.46). There are any number of explanations for hamonizing this and you, O constant reader, can judge which is best. But here is a blind man, on the side of the road, begging. Get that: he was begging. He was asking for something, anything to sustain him for the day. And now here is a chance to hit the jackpot – a crowd. He can practically hear the Roman currency bouncing in their coin purses. But its strange…there is a lot of commotion from crowd; so much in fact this man has to inquire (and the Greek implies he kept on asking) as to what was going on. He is told, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

It is interesting to note that the God we serve is a God who “passes by.” In Genesis 18.3-5 when God makes covenant with Abraham, Abraham asks God “do not pass by me.” In Job 9.10, Job in his affliction says the one who made the Pleiades and Orion is the one who “passes by me.” In Exodus 33.17-22, God, revealing his glory to Moses in the mountain, passes by the cleft of the rock. And here in Luke 18.37 Jesus is taking up that mantle as the God who passes by. Not wanting Jesus to get away without making his request, the blind man cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Notice, this is not just Jesus of Nazareth, but this blind identifies him as the one who was to sit on David’s throne and reign. He is the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. And certainly, as Messiah, Jesus can show him mercy.

Note the criticism of the people. Luke says specifically that they were the people “in front.” The vanguard of the crowd had made to where this blind beggar was and they chided him for his audacity. It may have been for his appeal to Jesus Messiahship they chided him. Probably, though, they were much like the disciples with the little children; the master is too busy for a blind beggar. But this man, it would seem, knows that if anyone can help him even regain his sight, it is Jesus the Christ. So he begins to cry out even louder, perhaps even shrieking at the top of his lungs, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Nothing will hinder him from seeing Jesus (pun intended).

The Sovereign One

If ever there was a man of mercy, it was Jesus. He is our model of mercy. And the God who passes by, when he hears the frantic cry of one of his children, stopped (v.40) and commanded that the man be brought forward. The blind man (probably led by the hand) came near. I think of James 4.8a which says “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (ESV). What a picture here is painted of us, blinded by our sin and begging for mercy, draw near even as this blind beggar did and finding mercy incarnate. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v.41). Ever a servant, Jesus stood ready to do what they man, full of faith, desires of him. “Lord,” says the blind man, still appealing to his authority and sovereignty even over blindness, “let me recover my sight.”

You see the faith required for healing in the blind beggar. If he had faith but had not caused a ruckus, would he have been healed? If he had faith, but would not cry out to the one who could save him, there could have been no healing. No, the faith necessary for healing was a faith that acted. As James says, “Faith without action is dead.” He cried out and came near and thus Jesus speaks to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” There was absolutely nothing the blind beggar could to fix his condition, but when he cried out with faith to the Sovereign One with power to heal, he “immediately” could see the face of the Lord. He then became a disciple, a follower and glorified God, unable to remain quite about the great miracle that had been worked by Jesus. But this led to others who saw what had happened also praising God.

“I once was lost but now am found – Was blind, but now I see.Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779

One out of Ten

It is amazing what we take for granted. People can take their spouse for granted until they are taken from them. Parents can take their children for granted until their child is sick or dead. People who take the Lord’s name in vain by swearing and cursing take for granted that God exists and will hold them accountable for every foolish word spoken. We take for granted technology, especially my generation who was raised surrounded by new technology. In Luke 17.11-19, I believe we find an account of men who took something for granted.

Ten Sick Men

Jesus is in the borderland, that territory betwixt and between Samaria and Galilee. It is probably a place of great tension as Jew mingles with Samaritan, the hated half-breeds. It is incredible that I hear so many televangelists talk about Christianity being “anti-semetic” (which simply is not true for God wants all men to be saved) yet they seem to forget that it was the Jews of the first century who were dogmatically prejudiced and racist. The Jew of the first century hated the Samaritans!

But there is a common ground upon which ten men united that day Jesus was travelling through: sickness. On this day, these men were no longer Jew or Samaritan; they were lepers. Ten men stood at a distance and shouted in loud voices, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (v. 13, ESV). These men are crying aloud to God incarnate for mercy. We, too, at one time, we crying aloud to the Master. Ours was not physical leprousy but spiritual leprosy, yes, sin. We needed mercy, grace, pardon.

In response to their cry, Christ gives them a command: “Go and show yourselves to the priests” (v.14). Now what would ten lepers have to show the priests? They were unclean, unable to even come close to the place of worship. Unable to even intermingle with people. These men are to go on the basis of faith; faith that by the time they arrive to see the priests, their leprosy will be healed. Indeed, that is what happened – on the way, their leprosy was cleansed.

One Saved Man

One of the men who was sent by Jesus noticed that he was healed. I don’t know how this took place, if he saw from the others that their leprosy was cleared up or if he saw himself first, but he did know that he was healed of this leprosy. Did he make it to the priests? The text does not say. But he turned back and was worshipping God all the way back to Jesus. Luke tells us it was with a “loud voice” that he was praising God. Picture it: here is man, searching for Jesus, shouting aloud praise to God everywhere he goes. What a picture for us! We too have been healed from our spiritual leprosy. Why not go about praising God and thanking Christ?

This man finds Jesus and falls at his feet, another sign of worship. Here he is reconizing the deity of Jesus. Jesus does not stop him, for Jesus is God in the flesh. And then Luke gives us the final detail of this picture which colors the whole scene: “He was a Samaritan.” This is no small detail. For the Jew, it would have smeared the whole scene. For the Gentile (Theophilus?), what brilliance this adds. No one, not even the hated half breeds, were outside of the mercy and love of God. But Jesus has some questions for this Samaritan man…

The way Jesus remembers it, there were ten men he had to heal; where are the rest? Weren’t they all healed from their leprosy (rhetorical, for Jesus knows)? Where is everyone else, worshipping and thanking God? Ah, and there we have it. You see these nine who did not return took for granted the healing of Jesus. He had healed lepers before (see 5.12-14; also possibly 4.40). And He had used much the same formula: a person with leprosy comes, he says go show yourself to the priest, the leper is healed. They must have known He was able to help and that is why they came to Him. And they went away, taking for granted the healing power of Christ; all except for one, a Samaritan.

I suppose at the heart of this is ingratitude. Unless we are in constant praise to God for everything he gives us (including life, breath, and being), we will take God and His power for granted. It is a “ho-hum” attitude of the majestic power of God. I think those nine who did not return had a ho-hum attitude of the healing power of Christ; they just knew He could heal and it was business as usual for Him to heal. How often do we resemble the nine instead of the one? It is just business as usual as we breath, as we live. We expect that from God (as though we deserved it). It is this ho-hum attitude toward the awesome power of God that will lead us toward a less grateful attitude of the blessings, great or small, of God.

Freed Indeed

One of the sticking points in the ministry of Jesus was the Sabbath. It was a point of controversy between the religious leaders of the time and him. In Luke 13.10-21, we have an account of just one of the many times Jesus was confronted about the Sabbath and his alleged abuse of that day.

A Bent Lady

We have previously pointed out that Jesus was in the habit of worshipping on the designated day, at the designated place; i.e. Jesus worshipped in the synagogue on the Sabbath (see 4.16). Here he is again, engaging in worship to God as he should be. He notices a lady who has a severe condition: she is “bent over” (ESV) to the point she appears to be nearly doubled over (see NASB). This was the result of some spirit and Jesus attributes it to the working of Satan (v.16). What all is involved here is not entirely certain. Clearly this woman is not evil for she has come to worship on the Sabbath and Jesus calls her a “daughter of Abraham.” This woman has been afflicted by this disability for eighteen years and probably has not known true rest most if not all ofthat time. Some have said this is some kind of mild form of demonic possession. Others point to the Job narrative and say this woman is suffering similar to Job. I lean toward the latter.

That her infirmity is clearly visible is undeniable: Jesus sees her and calls her over. Whether she knew anything about Jesus or believed in him is unclear; he initiates this episode. Jesus then releases her from her bondage to the spiritual realm of darkness. She is freed. I think of the passage in Galatians 5.1: “For freedom Christ has set us free.” This woman has been set free from her disability. So have we. Once we were bent under the heavy burden of our sins and wickedness. But Christ came and spoke the words: “you are freed from your disability.” Immediately, as with this woman, we were made to stand aright, having the burden removed. Like this woman, we go forth glorifying God.

A Belligerent Leader

Not everyone likes the grace of God, especially when it rocks the tradition boat. A synagogue ruler is the one who speaks up in this episode. He may have felt some obligation since he was presiding over the services to say something. Unfortunately, instead of issue a proper response (praise and adoration) he sticks his foot in hs mouth and brings upon himself the condemnation of Jesus. He points out there are six days for work; if someone needs healing, come on those days. This is the Sabbath after all, Jesus. The sad truth is, this woman has been coming her (probably) for eighteen years but has not found healing and probably has not experienced any kind of comfort from this synagogue ruler.

And Jesus knows this. I wonder about the look upon our Lord’s face as indignation blazed in the direction of this foolishly indignate synagogue ruler. Clearly a man of passion, it is easy to identify with our Lord when his emotions ring clearly off the pages as they do here.

A Benevolent Lord

Here is the comforting truth about Jesus: he is always ready to come to our aid. This woman is under attack and Jesus steps in. He calls this synagogue ruler and everyone in agree with him “hypocrites.” They are people who say one thing but do something different. They say “no work on the Sabbath” but they will lead their donkey to water. How much more valuable is this human life! How much more mercy should be shown to her! Satan has tormented this poor woman for nearly two decades; where is the mercy? There is none from the heartless leader. But from the benevolent Lord, there is much. The enemies of Jesus are shamed and many people rejoice over this miracle.

A Blessed Lesson

Verse 18 begins “Therefore…” indicating that it is connected to the preceding account. It could be connected with the lady herself or with the people’s praise. I lean toward the latter (again). I think Jesus is talking about the reception of the kingdom of God, even as those who rejoiced over the lady were willing (so it would seem) to receive the kingdom. First, the kingdom is like a mustard seed. It starts small (the smallest of the garden seeds at the time) but will grow into a large tree, able to house all who would flock to it.

Second, the kingdom is like leaven worked into a loaf. Just as leaven will spread throughout the lump, so too with the kingdom spread throughout a region, territory, state, nation, even the world. The point: the kingdom will start small (like in a synagogue) but will spread throughout the world. Indeed, freedom from sin, death, and hell, yea, the gospel, was preached “in the whole world…bearing fruit and growing” before the close of the first century (see Col 1.6).

He Touched Him

The courteous thing to do in our culture when you are sick is to cover you mouth when you cough, not shake hands with folks, and keep your distance from people, perhaps even staying home from work or school. This is a mild form of the quarantine a leper in first century Palestine endured for the rest of their life. As stipulated in the Law, a leper could not enter the camp, they had to go about shouting “Unclean,” and therefore could not have contact with family, friends, or kinsmen. Because of the severity of the quarantine, they could not even participate in fellowship not only with countrymen, they could not engage in worship of God. It was a lonely existence with not only social and physical effects, but also psychological effects.

The leper was the type of what sin does to an individual. Sin cuts a person off from the camp. They are out of fellowship with God’s people and God himself. Left alone over time, it will consume the individual and, if left within the church, will damage other members of the body. Hence, it must be dwelt with in a drastic manner, i.e. cut off from the camp.

The Great Physician…

We come across Jesus in Luke 5.12ff in a certain city. Luke did not deem it necessary to record the city’s name. What is important to doctor Luke is the case of the leper: the leper is “covered” or “full” of leprosy. This disease has just eaten up this poor man. Apparently, though, he has some prior knowledge of the healing capablities of Jesus because he falls prostrate before the Lord (a position of worship) and begs Jesus to heal him. He believes Jesus can heal him but does not know if Jesus is willing to do what the leper believes he can do. After all, no one associates with lepers – you don’t even talk with a leper. They are unclean, cut off from the camp.

Jesus is willing not just to heal him but to offer something no one else would do – he touched the leper. This was a social “no, no.” Surely, Jesus knows you are not supposed to do that. Yes, but what this man needs is more important than what is socially acceptable; he needs compassion. He needs to know someone, anyone cares. And Jesus does care. Before the lepers can come experience the healing of the Master, they need to know he cares, they need to know we care. Everyday we see spiritual lepers around us, but do they know that Jesus cares. The only way they know this is if his hands are reaching out these social outcasts who are pushed to the edge of society. I am talking about the church.

Jesus came for the disenfranchised, the emarginated, those scorned by society. By reaching out and touching this social outcast, the leper, he is demonstrating his mission. He came specifically for this man, this leper. Jesus came to help him. And so when Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the man, he is fulfilling a part of his mission.

…Healing…

Jesus tells this former leper what to do: he is still required to do something under tha Law, namely presentation before the priest. So with us, once we show compassion to the spiritual lepers around us, we do not leave them in that state; we point them toward healing and follow up by pointing them to the requirements of the high priest. We “teach them to observe everything Jesus has commanded.” Do not leave the leper to “drip dry in the pew;” they will need direction and guidance, just as this leper Jesus contacted did.

…And Praying

The more Jesus heals, the more popular he becomes. Everywhere the good news of the Great Physician spreads to those in need of healing. But notice that Jesus does not lose focus. He still has alone time with God to meditate, clear away the distractions, and focus on God. It can be a draining thing to be in contact with the social outcasts all day. It takes time and energy. But never lose focus on the power source of our ministry: God. He is the one who gives the increase and provides healing for the lepers. Always allow time for alone time with God and prayer time with him.

Confirming the Word

Since my sophomore year of high school, I have been into lifting weights. In fact, just a little later today I will be hitting the gym to workout. Suppose I were to come to you and tell you that I could bench press 400 lbs. What would be your the first thing you would ask me to do? “Prove it.” Right? You want proof that I can indeed bench press 400 lbs. And if I could not then you can know whether or not I can do what I claim to be able to do.

Well, in all honest, I cannot bench press 400 lbs. While I can probably max out at 230 or 240, that is not 400 lbs. But this serves to illustrate what is happening in Luke 4.31-44 (and even into chapter 5). Jesus is making some very bold claims: as we saw in verses 18-21, he is claiming to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah. God has made some claims about Jesus as well: Luke 3.22b, God says that Jesus is his Son. Even the devil knows who Jesus is when he tempted him: “since you are the Son of God…” (Luke 4.3, 9). So Jesus is claiming to be able to spiritually bench press not just 400 lbs., but and entire world of sin. After all, that is his mission – to die for the sins of the world. Only the Son of God can offer a sacrifice that is acceptable to the Father that will enable God to forgive the sins of mankind.

But it is not enough for Jesus to claim this. He, being human, understands the mind of man and knows what man will ask him to do: prove it. The cry of every man and woman is for proof that Jesus is the Son of God and is able to do what he claims he can, namely redeem us from a world of sin, forgive us all our sins, and grant us eternity with the Father. So Jesus, prove it.

Authority over demons

Verses 31-32 gives us the context for the following miracles. Jesus is teaching (v.31) as he travels throughout Galilee and the people are amazed at his teaching. But they are not amazed because of his eloquence or deep booming voice or because he was some kind of a showman. Certainly Jesus could have been all these but the reason the people are amazed at his teaching is because “his message had authority.” There was power behind. What kind of power are we talking about?

Verses 33-37 gives us the first demonstration of the authority behind his message. Jesus exercises authority over demons. A man with a demon in the synagogue has a confrontation with Jesus and acknowledges who Jesus is: the Holy One of God. Notice the spirit realm knows and acknowledges the second person of the Godhead. Jesus, vested with divine authority to back the message preached, rebukes the demon and causes it to come out of the man. The people are amazed and the news about Jesus spreads. The have heard his teaching (v.36) and recognize the power and authority behind it.

Authority over sickness

Now we see Jesus as the master over human disease and sickness. Peter’s (Luke calls him Simon in this context) mother-in-law is sick. Jesus heals her. Many people come as the sun is setting. There are sick people and also more demon possessed people. Jesus heals the sick and still has the power to drive out demons. He is not just a one shot guy who can only perform a miracle when it is convenient or by slight of hand when no one is looking; his power is constant. Notice also there is more confirmation from the spirit realm as to the identity of Jesus: he is the Son of God and the Messiah.

Jesus does not allow his power or fame to distract him. Very early he wakes up and goes out spend some time in a solitary place no doubt praying (see Mark 1.35). Luke is highlighting Jesus’ dependence upon the Father as the power source and the one who enables him to do what he is doing. Jesus is constantly mindful of the fact that God is at work through him. We would all do well to note the humility of Jesus in acknowledge the Father as the source of all power. We should not become so busy that we cannot take time out of our day (even if it is early in the morning) to have some quiet time with the Father in prayer.

I believe the temptation is always in front of Jesus to remain popular. The people want him to stay (as perhaps his hometown did) and be their miracle worker – clear the hospitals, cleanse the town, etc. But because Jesus has had time to refocus and realign himself with the will of God, he recognizes that he must move on and keep preaching elsewhere. And that is what he does in the synagogues of Judea.

We see Jesus traveling about preaching and teaching about the kingdom of God. But his message is not merely word; there is action, power behind it. Jesus is confirming the word spoken by the miracles he is working thereby giving authority to his message. And we have this same confirmed word today. Christ and his apostles have done the dirty work of confirming the word for us, thus proving it and the power behind it. We do not have a dead letter religion, Catholicism notwithstanding. We have a living word and with authority. We have eyewitness testimony and confirmation of the word. And we “will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts” (2 Peter 1.19).