The Life of Jesus Christ - Jesus and the Curse

It is my sincere prayer that you “see remarkable things today” in the person of Jesus Christ. That is, after all, our goal in studying through the four gospels as we track and trace the works and words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, during his ministry on earth. Today our text is a series of four miracle stories in Luke 4 and 5, paralleled by the same stories in Mark 1 and 2. While John does not record these stories, as we should suspect, Matthew saves them for later in his narrative, placing them after the Sermon on the Mount.

These miracle accounts are the first ones recorded in Mark and Luke. They clearly fall early in the ministry of Jesus. But more than that, they serve to pronounce the identity and mission of this new teacher, especially as these miracles point all the way back to the garden of Eden. There, Satan himself, the Devil, tempted Adam and Eve to rebellion, their act bringing sin and death into the world, the curse. We call this “the fall.” A special kind of angel, called a Cherub, guarded the way back into the garden when Adam and Eve were kicked out (the Hebrew plural of Cherub is Cherubim). These powerful angels always stand guard between humans and God’s presence.

In Luke 4 and 5, we see first Jesus cast out a demon. This is the first miracle in Luke. Next we see Jesus heal a sick woman and then a crowd of people, sick of all kinds among them. Finally, we see Jesus forgive a man’s sins, which causes such a controversy that Jesus also heals the man’s paralysis. A demon. A deathly fever. Sin. It is a perfect response to the curse of Adam and Eve’s rebellion. It is a mirrored response. Jesus is the cure.

From start to finish, the Gospel writers refer to Jesus’ authority (see Luke 4:36 and 5:24).

“Authority - both its presence in Jesus and the claim for it in his teaching and action - is a major theme of all the Synoptics [Matthew, Mark, Luke]. Whereas Jewish teaching frequently appealed to outside authorities such as Scripture or tradition or both, often with explicit appeal to rabbis who had gone before, Jesus addressed topics directly without such appeal, except occasionally when he appealed to Scripture. But there may be something more implied here, as the following account will specify. Teaching is one key element of Jesus’ ministry. The second element, his acts, is noted next. Both come with authority. That authority points to a cosmic struggle and a new age.” Darrell Bock

Authority. Getting past Cherubim - back into the perfect presence of God - requires authority.

Jesus arrives on the scene of human history as a newborn child. The beginning of His public ministry as an adult is triggered by His baptism and subsequent temptation in the wilderness by the Devil. It is not unimportant that Jesus faces Satan at the very beginning. This is why He came. He would say later, to a group of Pharisees (Jewish legalists) who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the Devil, “How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matthew 12:29)  Surely, the “strong man” is a parable-style reference to the Devil. This would make “his property,” those men and women under his “authority” as the ruler and “prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2)  Jesus has come with the authority to take us back from the Devil, from sin, from death and from the curse.

Back to our text in Luke. Jesus is in the Capernaum synagogue. A man with an unclean spirit was there. The man speaks (or the demon speaks through the man) and knows Jesus’ earthly identity, calling him “Jesus of Nazareth” and “the Holy One of God.” Jesus simply rebukes him with a simple, double command. “Be quiet and come out of him!” And with some violence, the demon did indeed come out without harming the man. The others there were amazed, saying “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.”

“The key is that the action is seen as communicating a powerful message that points to Jesus’ authority over cosmic forces of evil. Both Gospels [Mark and Luke] note that he commands the unclean spirits. Mark says that they obey him, while Luke reports the result, that they come out. Jesus is announcing that deliverance has come, and his acts of deliverance are aimed at the unseen forces that bring suffering to the creation. The connection is no accident.” Bock

“Cosmic forces of evil… that bring suffering to the creation.” This is another way of saying that Jesus has the authority over the Devil and the power to cure the curse.

Selecting a later miracle in the middle of the series - Jesus’ healing of a leper (Mark 1:40ff and Luke 5:12ff) - we see an incredible application point. Jesus had just begun his public ministry. He was gathering disciples to follow Him, so that they might be with Him and carry on His word and mission after He left. He also previously performed a wedding miracle (John 2) that had a rich Messianic message to it. There He said to His mother that His “hour had not yet come.” Here, after cleansing the leper, Jesus ordered him to tell no one, likely for the same reason. Jesus was conscious of His Father’s timeline. He did not want it to be sped up.

Mark’s account says “But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.” (Mark 1:45)

How often have you done just the opposite? Jesus is no longer telling us to “not tell.” In fact, He has commanded us to go and tell His good news to everyone. To talk freely and openly about who Jesus is, what He can do and what He came to offer. But yet, we do not in many cases. We remain silent, or we just speak about Jesus to those that already know Him.

In this account Jesus told the healed-leper to not tell anyone about Him. He went and spread the word widely anyway. Now, Jesus has commanded us to go. Yet we do not.

Friends, we have great news to share. All the destruction that happened in Eden, from the sinful rebellion of Adam and Eve, is cured in Jesus Christ. He has authority over the Devil, our sin, over death. And getting past cherubim requires authority. Jesus is the cure.

Family Discussion Questions
1. How well do you know the story of Adam and Eve? Someone try to retell the story, in as much detail as can, without reading it. Read it afterward (Genesis 2:15-3:24). Discuss the parts you find interesting or important.
2. Today we talked about a bunch of Jesus’ miracles. What do you think it was like to see someone’s paralyzed feet instantly, miraculously reshape into perfect ones? What would you have done if Jesus did that to your illness or disease?
3. What is “authority”? How does authority work in your family? How did it work in mom’s and dad’s family when they grew up?
4. How did the people in our stories today (Luke 4-5) see Jesus’ authority over the Devil, death and sin?
5. Right now, in your own life, how should you go and tell others about the great power, authority and kindness of Jesus?

Small Group Discussion Questions
1. Are you familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and Eden? Reread Genesis 2:15-3:24 to refresh your memory.
2. Do a Google Image search for “Gustave Dore Adam and Eve Drive out of Eden.” Spend a few minutes looking at it and discuss it with your group. What Scripture references do you see in the etching?
3. Where do Cherubim show up in the Old Testament again?
4. Our text today was Luke 4-5, a series of miracles at the hands of Jesus, including His first in Luke’s gospel. What connections do you see between these miracles and the account in Genesis 3?
5. What is Jesus (and Luke the author) revealing about His identity, power and authority by these miracles? Discuss with your group.
6. What is authority? What is its nature? What is required for one to have it, gain it, use it well?
7. Read Matthew 12:22-29. How does this relate to the text we studied today?
8. One of the middle miracle accounts involves a leper. Why does Jesus tell him not to tell anyone about his healing?
9. What (ironic) personal applications can you draw from the leper’s response to Jesus’ command?
10. Where do you see other application in the Luke text? Spend some time applying these to your community group/small group and your personal life. Discuss them.

Weekly Reading Plan
I want to encourage you to begin slowing reading through a Gospel. We will likely be in this series a while, long enough for you to engage multiple Gospels. I would encourage you to begin with Matthew - knowing that Matthew organizes his account by theme, not by strict chronology. After Matthew you can go to John or Luke. This would be the very best way to stay engaged and get the most out of our Sunday series. This requires real, consistent, disciplined work Monday through Saturday.
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