The modern mind will accept nothing on authority, but will accept anything on no authority. Say that the Bible or the Pope says so and it will be dismissed without further examination. But preface your remark with “I think I heard somewhere,” or, try but fail to remember the name of some professor who might have said “such-and-such,” and it will be immediately accepted as an unshakable fact. - G. K. Chesterton
(Gospel Text: Lk 4:31-37)
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!"
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
"What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out."
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
How many seminars, homilies, class lectures, or speeches have you heard in your life? Probably more than you can count. Definitely more than you can remember. For some reason or another, most of these talks didn’t make a deep impression. Perhaps the speakers weren’t well prepared or were not dynamic enough. Perhaps you were distracted or bored. And perhaps it was so long ago that the memory has faded. Whatever the reason, it’s not often that we hear words that really make an impact in our lives.
“They were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority.” (Luke 4:32)
The people in today’s Gospel reading had a different experience. They were astonished at Jesus because he spoke “with authority” (Luke 4:32). It wasn’t just because he knew the Scriptures well. It wasn’t just because he was a moving speaker who could sway a crowd. It was because his words resonated inside their hearts. They were words of God’s compassion and mercy, words of his power to heal and his desire to save. These words even had the power to scatter evil spirits!
Don’t you wish you could hear Jesus preach like this? Well, in a sense you can every time you open the Scriptures. The same One who spoke to that crowd can speak to you through the pages of the Bible because these words are inspired by the Holy Spirit himself. They bear not just information about God; they bear the very breath of God. And that breath can infuse us with the life and wisdom and power of God if we approach these words in prayer and with an open heart.
If you want to experience the power of God’s word, start with today’s reading. Focus on the possessed man’s words: “I know who you are the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34). Let that statement sink in. Even the fallen angels recognize Jesus as Holy. You can recognize him too. Why? Because he’s right here with you, whether you realize it or not.
Go beyond the words, and go to Jesus!