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June 12, 2017: The Power of the Spirit

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Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 21-22Psalm 119:89-96Luke 4:31-37Ephesians 4:13-30

Luke 4:31-37:

The devil’s temptation has finished—for the moment. Note: when we pass one set of temptations, we are not to think that thereby such temptations will not return. While we are in this world, temptations will come. We are, as William Gurnall, the great Puritan commentator on the “Armor of God,” would say, to “sleep in our armor.” This side of glory, we are always in a battle. That should not intimidate us nor depress us, for if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. But it does prevent us from naively surrendering to defeat after a glorious victory, or snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Tomorrow the temptation may well come again. Fight on, fight on, Pilgrim.

Jesus returns “in the power of the Spirit.” Nothing of great gospel good can be done in this world without it being done “in the power of the Spirit.” We fight not with the weapons of this world, but we take captive every thought and have divine power to demolish strongholds. The work of the gospel is a spiritual work. Pray therefore that God would give you the power of the Spirit that when you witness, when you serve, when you teach, when you lead your family, you find that he is empowering you to God’s great glory. One preacher was overheard praying aloud before the service where he was to preach, “I will not go unless you go with me.” Such is our prayer each morning: God give us your power to serve you. Only as we abide in him will we bear much fruit.

As was his custom, he goes to the synagogue. Christian: if your Christ went to church “by custom,” so should you. You can go to church and not be a Christian, that to be sure; but you cannot be a Christian and not be a part of a true church when that option is available to you physically. We long to be among God’s people when we are one of God’s people.

And when he got to church he preached—he exposited the Bible passage given to him. Note that exposition of God’s Word is not a twentieth century invention but was the ministry practiced by all the prophets and teachers, from Moses, to Ezra, to Paul, to Chrysostom, to Augustine, to Luther, to Calvin. Why? It was Jesus’ method. He explained the text and preached it.

And what a sermon! “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” While his sermon is a model for our churches, it was also unique. No one else fulfills the Scripture but Jesus.

They are pleased with him. He has gracious words. And he is Joseph’s son! He is a homeboy made good.

But, fulfilling aged Simeon’s prophecy of chapter 2 verse 34 that Jesus would be “a sign that is opposed,” Jesus will not mince words or downgrade the truth or placate sinful intentions and desires. He speaks in love; but he speaks the truth in love. He discerns that they want him to do miracles. But he articulates a gospel principle to explain why it will not happen. “No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” They are familiar with him, pleased for his gracious words, but they are not ready to put their faith in him. Their desire for miracles is not a faithful desire, but a presumptuous, even hardhearted, response to the One who was before them.

They are “filled with wrath.” The stick is placed in the hornet’s nest. These ever-so-nice religious people are now ready to kill him. God’s prophets have always had the greatest trouble not from the world but from false and fake disciples. So it was with Jesus (the Pharisees); so it was with the evangelical leaders of the eighteenth century; so it was with the Reformers; so it is still often today. The greatest enemies of the truth are often not those who are indifferent to the truth but those who wish to undermine it, downplay it, water it down so the sword is blunted.

“But passing through their midst, he went away.” God’s anointed was protected. It was not yet his time. He was to “proclaim good news to the poor,” in the power of the Spirit, and to fulfill his God-sent mission, as the Son of God, to save God’s people.

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