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Feb 15 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 6, 2011

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. Luke 4:32 

INTRO: First, we’ll take an ariel view and point out a few things 

A parallel is developed between the first two scenes (vv. 31-37)
– Luke uses three words that describe the response of people to Jesus to link these scenes 

  • amazed: to knock people out of their rational expectation
    – verse 36 translates a different word; to astonish or baffle
  • word (translated: message) – it is Jesus’ word that amazes
    – 32, “teaching”
    – 36, “command”
  • authority  (the second time it is backed up with “power,” v. 36)
    – this is how Luke wants to introduce Jesus to us – something about him is amazing
    – he speaks and acts with an authority that is all his own

There are two references to encounters with demons and these also parallel each other
– the first is in the synagogue and the second occurred in Peter’s home
○ both times, they know who Jesus is (and shout it out)
○ both times Jesus rebukes and silences them
– between these two events, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law
○ he “rebukes” her fever (treats it as an alien thing in her) 

There’s something I want to get at, but I’m going to take a round about way of getting there 


Why did Jesus silence the demons? 

  1. Possibly to avoid being associated with spirits and magic
    – the Law prohibited any use of magic and in Roman law, it was punishable by death
    – people sometimes reacted to Jesus’ miracles as if he were a magician
    And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear (Lk. 8:37)
    – he was also accused of having supernatural power through a partnership with Beelzebul (Lk. 11:15)
  2. Jesus did not want people to come to know him through these sorts of announcements
    – “titles” (e.g., “the Holy One of God,” “Son of God”) come complete with ready made definitions
    – for example, consider the way Jesus’ conversation goes in Luke 9:18-22, when Jesus asked, “Who do the people say that I am?”
    – when Peter blurted out that he believed Jesus to be “The Christ [Messiah] of God,” Jesus immediately did two things:
    (1) he “warned and instructed them not to tell this to anyone”
    (2) he began talking about his future in terms that were exactly opposite to how people defined Messiah
    – Peter immediately contradicted Jesus (John the Baptist also wrestled with Jesus’ un-Messiah like ministry; Lk. 7:18-20)
    Messiah meant something to them that they did not see in Jesus

It’s not that what the demons said about Jesus was wrong
– Jesus did not turn to the crowds and say, “That isn’t true!”
– but that route would not bring them to Jesus as he is in himself 

Titles and labels tend to control our thinking about a person (e.g., “doctor,” “sheriff,” etc.)
– if you learn a title before you meet Jesus, you will get a wrong idea about him
– you will expect him to be something that he is not
– Jesus wants us to get to know him through our own encounter with him 

It is like the way the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) began to develop an understanding of God
– they met him in dynamic encounters and afterward gave the encounter a label: “Yahweh provides,” “God of Israel,” “Almighty God”
We follw the same order; we experience Jesus first, then we learn the titles
– doctrine does not define Jesus, but Jesus defines doctrine 

Let’s follow Jesus further down this road 

The next morning, Jesus went by himself into a “secluded place” 

In verse 42, Luke does something that is very uncharacteristic for him
– he typically takes every opportunity to show us Jesus in prayer
– in the same place in Mark, we’re told that Jesus was praying in that secluded place
In fact, something in next chapter will reflect back on this moment 

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray (Lk. 5:16) 

It seems that by not mentioning prayer, what Luke wants to emphasize is the seclusion (or solitude)
– at the moment of breakthrough, Jesus walked away from it 

Solitude can be useful for deepening our sensitivity to God
– stripping away distractions can produce a shift in awareness
What if you wore glasses that impaired your vision?
– looking through them would distort objects or block from view
– taking them off, you would see more clearly
We don’t realize how we’ve learned to see world through a lens
– once we learn language, words stand between mind and object
– we look at things and immediately name it – turn it into a word 

Imagine holding a rock, but stripping away all words for it
– instead, experience it – what you see and feel
– avoid adjectives like “smooth,” and experience smoothness
What would happen is, we would become like children
– they always want to touch things or climb – involve senses
Add a dimension to their experience by increasing contact
– we would rediscover the experience of being 

We get locked in our heads – lose our sense of wonder
– lose our “selves,” because we lose direct contact with life
– the further we’re removed from direct experience,
the more stimulation it requires to feel life and be moved by it
We don’t get amazed at God or his world
– you have to be close enough to a thing to be amazed at it
– and we live at a distance from everything 

In chapter 10 we’ll come to the famous story of Martha and Mary
– Martha is “distracted with all her preparation”
and Jesus says, “bothered by so many things”
– whereas Mary is occupied with only one thing 

Many things: our anxious mode
One thing: staying in peace
Many things: the busy traffic of thoughts traveling through brain
One thing: listening (only thing we’re told Mary was doing) 

I think words are used too much in Christianity
– too often they substitute for the actual experience of Jesus
– we don’t have God, we have words and concepts 

What if we enter solitude with Jesus?
– strip away the many things (everything) except for him
What if we did not look at him through theological words?
– without a theological vocabulary, we’d have to meet person, himself
– we would discover definition to those words by living exp. 

Three things would likely happen: 

  1. We would experience greater clarity of thought
    – notice how the people tried to “keep him from going away”
    – but Jesus is totally certain regarding his next move, “I must . . . for I was sent for this purpose”
  2. We would not use the old words mechanically
    – we would probably shout, rather than recite, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”
  3. We would probably come up with new words
    – words that reflect our own experience of Jesus


CONC: Jesus silenced demons and told people not to talk up his miracles 

What Jesus is saying, then, is that I want men to confront me and not your stories of miracles. I want men to understand the miracles in terms of my person. This is the only valid way. (Helmut Thielicke) 

Why solitude? 

Because we need to get far enough away from distractions,
far enough away from the pressure of many things,
far enough away from words,
to get close to life 

In solitude–with everything removed from our attention except for Jesus–we begin to discern and hear that still small voice
– then, with greater clarity, we see his work everywhere else and recognize him in everyone else

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