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Jesus’ Authority to Heal a Man Possessed.

Beginning today in our daily meditations, we are taking a look at all the acts of supernatural power the Lord Jesus did while He walked on earth. Today, let’s look at His authority to cast out an evil spirit from a man:

31Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. 33In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power, he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area (Luke 4:31-37).

Luke’s focus is to show us the display of power and authority that Jesus brought against Satan and his kingdom. Twice in the passage above, Luke uses the word authority (vs. 32 and 36) to describe the ministry of Jesus. In my opinion, there was more to His speaking with authority than shouting loudly and commandingly. Christ did not buttress His message by quoting previous Rabbis. The Lord did not have to support His teaching in any way, for He had and has authority in Himself: “You have heard that it was said…39But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:38-39). He preached God’s dynamic Word which is powerful itself. Not only does the Word of God have authority in itself, but there was also authority and power that is intrinsic in the Speaker, the Lord Jesus.

A person with spiritual authority brings forth clarity and conviction that speaks to the heart and will of a listener. Jesus was said to have authority and power: “With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” (v. 36). Exousia (authority) is the permission or authority to do something; it denotes the right to do something. The other word translated into English as power (v. 36), is the Greek word Dunamis, from where we get the English word dynamite. This word means to be capable, sufficiently powerful. It is intrinsic power. Exousia is likened to the traffic cop standing at an intersection directing traffic. He has the authority to tell you to do something. If you do not do it, then he has dunamis (power) in his gun strapped to his waist to make you do it! Demons recognize this authority and power and must obey.

Let us try and get a handle on this important truth about authority, for Christ has delegated authority to all believers to carry on His ministry (Matthew 28:18-20). Exousia (authority) is often used of a king conferring his authority or permission to exert a certain action. There are different kinds of authority, but all are spiritual in nature. There is nothing tangible to grasp. You can’t see authority. Authority, though, has to have power along with it. There is no authority if power is not delegated to back it up. Jesus gave the seventy disciples power and authority to drive out demons and to heal sicknesses, and the result was that the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). Authority is exercised in an office situation by the use of power along with it. For instance, your boss exercises authority over you by his use of rewards for corrective action, e.g., a salary increase or promotion to a higher level. There is also coercive power, i.e., the boss can use the threat and fear of dismissal or a pay downgrade to influence your performance.

True spiritual leadership is never forced upon the will of the person led. A person with true spiritual leadership should never have to say that he is the leader. True spiritual authority is not coercive (forced), nor does it make a person feel inferior, but it respects moral freedom. Jesus exercised true spiritual authority in His leadership. He never forced His will over people. His leadership style was and is one of true agape love which ignited a desire from those who heard His words to want to be like Him! You can only exercise true spiritual leadership when you have earned the right by the degree of your character and the presence of the Spirit in your life.

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Taken from the more complete study in the Gospel of Luke, study 7, Jesus’ Authority over Demons, found in the All Studies box on the Home Page. Keith Thomas


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