Jesus Commands Healing - Part 2


This morning we look at a short passage that contains some of Luke’s first accounts of Jesus healing people. We looked a few weeks ago at Jesus rebuking a demon and casting him out of a man in the synagogue. Our passage today is a continuance of the narrative of events that happened the same day. So we will look back at our passage from last time and move into our focus this morning.
Luke 4:31–41 ESV
And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region. And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
recap: Luke 4:31-37
The ministry of Jesus was marked by:
Astonishing Authority
Abject Alarm
Authentic Amazement
This morning we are going to focus in on 38-41. In 38-39, Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, and in 40-41 we see that many more people came to Jesus to experience healing. In our last passage, Jesus rebuked a demon, here he rebukes a fever and then again rebukes demons again.
First, let us look at the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. This is written of in two other gospels, let us look at those accounts quickly. We see that the writers of these gospels tell the same story, but sometimes with different focuses or different wording, but not in contradiction to each other.
Matthew 8:14–16 ESV
And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.
Mark 1:29–34 ESV
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Luke’s account is very short and matter of fact. Jesus came to Simon’s house, Simon’s mother-in-law had a high fever, and they appealed to Jesus on her behalf. He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Then she immediately got up and served them.
Luke has likely heard this story from Peter himself, and so he tells the parts that to him are the important parts. One difference between Luke and Matthew and Mark is that they say it was a fever, Luke says it was a high fever. Luke, you will recall, was a physician. Especially when it comes to parts of his writings involving healings, we do well to pay attention to his expertise in how he records these events.
Luke is not contradicting Matthew and Mark. All three agree there was a fever. But Luke is highlighting the fact that this was no mild fever. He does not have a thermometer, so he cannot tell us she was at 102 or 99. But a high fever is a severe fever. In other words, she was not just a little sick, she was very ill. As we all may know of personal friends or family, sometimes what starts as a fever progresses to something even more serious, and even death. How many sad stories do many of us know of, where someone had a fever, and it turned out to be something like spinal meningitis, that ultimately took the life of the one suffering?
So this fever is very serious. And they appeal to Jesus on her behalf. This may indicate she is too sick to even ask for herself, it is not clear to me that this is definitely the case, but certainly it is a possibility. We are given a privilege as believers, that we also may appeal to Jesus on other’s behalf. Indeed, we are to bring petitions and concerns to Him. Our first concern for all others should be their eternal state, so we can appeal to Jesus to save those we encounter, those we love, those we care for. But we may also ask him to alleviate pain and suffering. And we ourselves may be granted opportunities to be part of the relief that Jesus provides.
So we see here in scripture both a narrative and also a lesson for us, that as those who cared for Simon’s mother-in-law appealed to Jesus on her behalf, so might we appeal to Jesus on behalf of others.
Luke does not mention, as Matthew and Mark do, that Jesus touched her hand. However, in the next verses Luke does mention that Jesus laid hands on those he healed. We will return to this in a moment. While Luke does not specifically mention Jesus touching Simon’s mother-in-law, he finds it important to note that Jesus rebuked the fever. This word rebuke can mean reprove, or admonish, to censure, to speak seriously to, to warn, or to punish. It can mean to command or give an order to. One who rebukes generally should have some sort of authority to rebuke.
Now, in Exodus 4:11 God tells Moses that it is he who makes someone mute or deaf, or seeing or blind: Ex4.11
Exodus 4:11 ESV
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
God asserts many times throughout scripture that He has total and complete sovereignty over all things, including health. Some people are bothered by this, yet scripture tells us many cases where God himself afflicted someone, or in the case of Job, allowed them to be afflicted. Whether God passively allows sickness or causes it himself, as he did in afflicting the Egyptians and in many other cases in scripture, one thing must be clear in our minds. God is sovereign. He can make sick and he can heal.
Jesus is demonstrating the power he has over an illness. He simply gives the command and the fever has no choice but to respond in obedience. Luke is clearly impressed enough by this that he makes clear that Jesus rebuked the fever. In the gospels, Jesus did a lot of rebuking. He rebuked the wind. He rebuked demons. He also rebuked Peter and others, perhaps Peter the most strongly when he said to him, “Get behind me Satan!”.
Jesus did not rebuke Simon’s mother-in-law. He rebuked the fever. Some have concluded that since the context surrounding these two verses is Jesus rebuking demons, that she had a demon that was causing her illness. Scripture does not say this, although I would allow for this possibility. But since it is not clearly stated that she had a demon, I will focus on what we do know.
This command of Jesus, this rebuking of the fever, is one of many examples we will be seeing in the gospels of the power of Jesus’ words. A question worth asking is whether believers should consider themselves, since they are in Christ, to have this same power. Here we must be careful. There are many who claim to have this power, but few can demonstrate it. They do not go to hospitals and empty it with the healing power of their words. Some say their faith is so strong that they can heal any disease. Yet when it doesn’t work out, they blame the victim, saying they can’t be healed because of their lack of faith.
Should Christians command demons to flee, and fevers to leave, just like Jesus did? Some will point to scriptures like this:
Mark 16:17–18 ESV
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
They will also show you examples in Acts of healings and exorcisms. Keep in mind, Jesus said this will be done in His name. Yet he does not give every believer unlimited power to speak to evil, whether demons or disease. If He had, then Christians would have eliminated all evil in the world simply by their words. No, this cannot be the case. Rather than speak as though we are God, let us do like those who appealed to Jesus on behalf of others. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded to speak to demons or illnesses. Our prayers, our spiritual communication, should be addressed to God alone.
Jude points out that even the Archangel Michael did not pronounce judgment on the devil, but said “The Lord rebuke you” Jude6-13
Jude 6–13 ESV
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
I don’t have time to do a whole lesson on this section of Jude, but I believe it is a strong warning to those in our day who would claim the role of prophet or healer, or destroyer of demons. Do not arrogantly assume you speak all the words of Christ and wield His power over evil. Rely not on your own faith or power, but appeal to Jesus on the behalf of others, and you can trust that He will always do His will, He will not err.
I would not recommend you getting into conversations with the devil. You may end up like the sons of Sceva: Acts19.13-16
Acts 19:13–16 ESV
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Yes, we are to resist the devil, and he will flee. This does not mean getting into conversations with him. Conversations with Satan often lead people into deception. Eve was deceived by the serpent. You and I are capable of being deceived. How then, do we resist the devil? Not by telling him what to do, but by knowing God’s Word, and relying on the help God provides us. We resist the devil every time we are subjected to a temptation and our knowledge of God helps us to defeat the temptation.
Appeal to Jesus and you cannot go wrong. Presumptuously assume that you speak for him, and you could end up in big trouble. You and I are not Jesus, we are not Apostles, we are not Prophets. We appeal to Jesus, and leave the results to Him. He will not let down the faithful, but will work all things for the good of those that love Him. Be humble. I believe the humble person who appeals to Jesus is far more likely to see and experience the power of God than the one who claims to be a little god, who can speak with he same power as Christ himself.
Any authority we may have comes from Him, and can be taken away by Him, so may we act humbly, relying on Him. So they appealed to Jesus, and He rebuked the fever. It left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. Here we see the care of Jesus, and also the immediacy and completeness of the healing.
When people have been sick with a serious fever, even after the fever has broken, they usually have a long period of convalescence. Sometimes they are weakened for weeks after the fever is over. But here we see that Jesus’ command to the fever has a complete healing effect on this woman. She immediately feels well enough, not just to sit up and enjoy a cup of coffee, but to get up and serve.
And when we and others in the church are sick, should not our motivation to get better be to serve? I know this is hard to focus on. Sometimes when we are sick all we can think about is that we want relief from the pain or discomfort we are going through. But our appeals to Christ, for ourselves and others, should be to have healing for the purpose of service in His kingdom. That includes, of course, service to our families. We want to get better so we can get back to work and provide for our families. They are our first ministry.
Peter’s Mother-in-law was healed and immediately began to serve them. What happens next shows how quickly word will spread when something amazing happens. Luke4.40-41
Luke 4:40–41 ESV
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
Now, it had been the Sabbath, so no work could be done, and to the Jews this would include traveling certain distances, and certainly carrying a sick or crippled person. The Sabbath ends at sunset, so as soon as the sun was setting, already the people were bringing their sick. And he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. So we have seen the power of Jesus, to rebuke demons and fevers, and here we also see the compassion of Jesus. He personally touches each person.
There is much power in touch! Sadly, our world has become so depraved that many people are afraid to use the gift of touch to connect with someone. My biology professor told about his grandson, who was adopted from a orphanage in another country. In the orphanage, most of the children had very little contact. They were not held, they were not cuddled as babies, they were not comforted by human touch. Babies who do not have the loving touch of a caretaker not only develop a discomfort with touch, such as hugs, but their tactile senses are stunted in development.
You see, we need human contact with each other. I read an article about how many babies and toddlers who grew up in these covid years have developmental issues. Some children went the first two years of their life not learning to read expressions on faces because they never saw an unmasked face outside the home. We need eye contact, and to see the lips and faces of people we are communicating with to be able to understand, since much of communication is non-verbal.
We need to be present with other people, to see them, to feel the touch of others. Jesus understood this human need. Before Jesus began his ministry, touch was not considered, even in the prayers for the sick. But Jesus laid hands on people. He also, as Matthew and Mark recorded, took Simon’s mother-in-law by the hand. Jesus touched people, not only spiritually, but physically as well. He understood this need for humans to have physical contact with each other. After all, He created us with that need!
Even in ministry, today we are warned to not hug children who may come to a kids or youth event. We are cautioned against it to protect ourselves from potential accusations or lawsuits. It is a sad thing. But Jesus instituted touch as part of a healing ministry. This is still part of our prayer for healing, when we appeal to jesus on the behalf of those who ask to be prayed for. In accordance with Scripture, we anoint them with oil, which naturally requires touch.
Next week we will examine the physical toll this took on Jesus, ministry takes something out of us. So Jesus goes out the next day to get away from people for a bit.
In verse 41, we see these same healings involved demon possession. We will not conclude from this that all sickness involves a person having demon possession or demon oppression, but certainly we must acknowledge that in some cases, sickness is linked to the spiritual health of the person. I would not claim it is a biblical concept, but often people in helping occupations divide our health into three categories: Emotional, spiritual, and physical health. These three areas are interrelated. If you are experiencing emotional trauma, your spiritual and physical health are going to be affected to some extent. If you are spiritually sick, your emotions and physical health will most certainly be disadvantaged.
If you are physically sick, your emotional and spiritual health are affected as well. There are some exceptions to this. A person who is mature in the faith, and has endured many trials of life and experienced the faithfulness of God, when faced with physical ailments, may remain emotionally and spiritually sound. This is a blessing that only comes from having made it through previous trials. Even then, someone facing their own mortality may have brief moments of fear, or worry.
Thankfully, God has not required of us a perfect faith that never wavers. Yet even the faith we have is a gift from him. And the normal way that we grow in faith is through trials and perseverance. James1.2-4
James 1:2–4 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
\Out last verse to consider is Lu4.41
Luke 4:41 ESV
And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
This may seem strange in a way. Why did Jesus not want to have these demons cry out “You are the Son of God!”? Well, we are not given a reason, other than that they knew that he was the Christ. Perhaps we can gather some more information from two other texts:
Mark 3:11–12 ESV
And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
Acts 16:17–18 ESV
She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
In each of these cases, it seems that Jesus and Paul objected to evil spirits proclaiming things about Jesus. Perhaps it is because the source of a message has a lot to do with how that message is received. We know that we are to be cautious of false teachers. There are those who claim to speak truth about Jesus but twist scripture and entrap people into a false faith in a false gospel.
So Jesus rebuked these demons and would not allow them to speak. Some have conjectured that perhaps Jesus did this also because his time to be known had not yet come. This is what he said to his mother in John2.4
John 2:4 ESV
And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
Well, since it is Mother’s Day, and many of you have plans to be with your mothers, I will keep this a little shorter and wrap up now. Remember this miracle shows that Jesus cares for Mothers-in-law. You have to be a mother before you can be a mother-in-law. What have we learned about this day and this evening that Luke recalls for us? The power of Jesus was displayed in both the casting out of demons and the healings. Jesus only needed his voice to do the work here. Yet even this takes a physical toll, which we will examine more next week.
We see that an appeal was made to Jesus on behalf of the sick woman. We are blessed to be able to appeal to Jesus on behalf of others as well. He had the power to speak to the illness itself, and the gentleness to touch those in need of Him. It didn’t take long before many people heard of the healer, and this brought many to come and seek him. What has Jesus healed us of? He has given our salvation, our cleansing from sin. Like those who spread the word about his healing power, we also ought to share what he has done for us.
And yet, sometimes people want the smaller gifts Christ offers, but will refuse to seek the greater gift of salvation. Kent Hughes writes about this passage: “That was a poignant, memorable night. However, it was not without a hint of tragedy. Those who are ill of body know what they need and will go to great lengths to receive it. But sadly, people who will break their necks to get to Jesus the physician will scarcely move to reach Jesus the Redeemer. As Alexander Maclaren said; ‘Offer men the smaller gifts, and they will run over one another in their scramble for them; but offer them the highest, and they will scarcely hold out a languid hand to take them’” (end quote)
As much as the power of Jesus to heal was confirmation of the truth of His gospel, even some who were healed physically never repent of sin and make him Savior and Lord. Jesus said not even a person being raised from the dead will be sufficient proof for some. This is why the ministry of the Word of God is far superior to a ministry that is focused only on healing. God certainly does heal, and we should pray in faith for healing, making that appeal to him. Yet the ultimate gift of God is the faith to believe the gospel, and when this faith comes, and the heart of stone is made into a heart of flesh, then we see the greater miracle, for one dead in their sins has been raised to life everlasting in Christ Jesus.
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