Jesus then went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in 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!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region. (Luke 4:31-37)
This Gospel passage described the dramatic inauguration of the public ministry of Jesus in His home-town, Nazareth. Initially, there was a lot of amazement, wonder and awe that was expressed by the people. But when the Lord, began to explicate His Mission, especially of being a Savior of all the nations, there was a change in attitude of the people. The shift from a “goody-goody” expectation of the Messiah to a “challenging” presence, caused them discomfort. But the Spirit-filled Jesus had no stopping. He knew His mission and He knew what needed to be done.
Here we are two millennia later. Evil is still around us and probably even more so. Like the townspeople in Nazareth, too many have grown accustomed to its presence. So much so that we are losing the focus on our values and His teachings. Others are simply tired and beat up for confronting evil, speaking against it and finding there is always another evil. So much so that many of the “champions” are growing old in spirit.
But they remind us that it is up to you and me to pick up the cudgel if we have not done so already. What we cannot do is look for another savior.
Political groups, community organizations, and health professions have struggled to find means for eliminating these evils. They inaugurate new programs, put up new buildings, and invent new medicines to help eliminate the problems. When the dust settles, some good has been done, but the evil still stands because its roots were not taken out.
That is where our challenge and task arise. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to become “people of authority and holiness”. We are called to let our lives be beacons of hope to others. Just as the United States was “the light on the hill,” we must become that light. How do we do that?
It requires the tremendous infilling and a constant seeking and doing of God’s Will in our lives. It starts with listening in prayer for His direction. No, it will probably not be another voice. But if we are praying every day, reading His word, and asking Him to lead us where we can do the most good. That is the first step. To be submissive enough to listen for Him to speak to us.
The second is to be sure that we have not grown complacent about the presence of evil. We cannot hide in our bubbles and assume that if we ignore it, evil will either not exist or it will go away. We must allow the risen Jesus within us to speak to the demons of our time and help people become free by speaking up, demonstrating through our lives that we are beacons of Him. If we are those beacons through the actions of our lives then we allow others to have the courage to speak up, cry out and find a way to slay the demons of hate, of despair and of selfishness.
For all of us who profess our belief in Jesus Christ, the time is now and the need is great.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your saving love and mercy, and the power of your word to bring healing, restoration, and freedom from sin and affliction.”
When Jesus went about his work preaching the Kingdom of God, he began to chop down the “tree of evil.” He moved confidently among a broken people to heal the sick, cleanse lepers, give sight to the blind, and even raise dead people to live In proclaiming the gospel, he even attacked the evil of despair and assured people that the Kingdom of God was in their midst. The torch has been passed to us. Are you willing to help carry it?