|International Sunday School Lessons|
Lesson for February 8, 1942
A Busy Sabbath in Capernaum
GOLDEN TEXT: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”—Revelation 1:10
THE setting of our lesson is in Capernaum, to which city Jesus apparently moved after He was rejected at Nazareth. St. Luke tells us that He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. (Luke 4:31) It was on one of these Sabbath days, probably shortly after His removal to Capernaum, that the events of our lesson took place.
The people who heard our Lord’s discourse were astonished; first, at the things which He taught; and second, at the manner in which He presented them. He taught with authority, that is to say, our Lord had a clear understanding of the subjects He handled, and His presentations were not vague suppositions and imaginations, but were clear-cut and distinct; well-proven by the testimonies of the Law and the prophets, so that they were convincing in the minds of His hearers, who hitherto had been used to hearing the scribes guess, wonder, suppose, etc.
While we are not told the substance of our Lord’s discourse on this Sabbath in Capernaum, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that it may have followed similar lines to the Gospel preached at Nazareth, declaring the time at hand in which God would be pleased to receive back into harmony with Himself those who had been alienated through sin, and who had thus been brought under the bondage of corruption. Probably, too, He declared Himself to be the great Life-giver, the Good Physician, sent to heal earth’s woes and to reveal to mankind the Heavenly Father and to become to as many as avail themselves of it, “The way, the truth, and the life,” by which they might return to divine favor.
The demon—one of the fallen angels from the time of the flood, mentioned by Jude and Peter (Jude 6:7; II Peter 2:4)—believed that the Lord’s teachings were condemnatory of himself and his associates in evil, and cried out, using the mouth of the possessed man. Unquestionably the fallen angels, although restrained by chains of darkness from manifesting themselves to humanity until a certain time have contact with each other, and are well aware of developments in general.
Their endeavors to communicate with humanity, and to obtain control over them through the submission of their wills, seem to be most persistent. Throughout the Scriptures, all who reverence God are warned against having anything whatever to do with mediums, seances and every form of spirit communication as being of these demons—satanic. It is our duty to reiterate this, because these influences are probably even more active today than ever before.
The demon of our lesson seems to have had the thought that at the coming of Messiah all evil was to be abolished and destroyed. One account says, “Art thou come to destroy us before the time?” Apparently the demons had some information or premonition that the time for the manifestation of power through Messiah was still future. Another text represents an evil spirit as crying out, “Art thou come to torment us?” The word for torment in this case signifies punish. We may feel reasonably sure that the inspired writers up to that time had not indicated the nature of the punishment that would be inflicted upon the fallen angels, and that the latter merely surmised that it would be their destruction.
The Apostle Peter seems to imply that when the fallen spirits witnessed our Lord’s death as the sin-offering, and His resurrection with divine power, they realized the love of God and the power of God on behalf of humanity that they had not previously appreciated. The thought of God’s mercy to come in due time to men gave ground to some of them for hoping also that in due time the repentant ones of their number might be the recipients of a share in divine mercy through Christ. And this indeed we know is a part of the divine program—for not only fallen men but also fallen angels are to be judged or tried at His appearing and Kingdom.—I Corinthians 6:3
Our Lord commanded the demon to leave the man, thus to give up his hold upon his mind and body. The demon was powerless to resist the authority vested in Jesus, but was not hindered from causing the man considerable torture in going from him. Luke says (4:35) the demon threw the man down in the midst of the crowd. Thus, and in every way, the malignity of these evil spirits is manifested.
The people were greatly amazed at the power manifested by Jesus over this evil spirit and we are told that immediately His name spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. Leaving the synagogue, Jesus and His four disciples went to Peter’s home, where his mother-in-law lay sick with fever. They entreated Jesus on her behalf (Luke 4:38), and He healed her. Perhaps the casting out of the demons suggested to the minds of the disciples the power of our Lord to heal, diseases, otherwise they might have entreated the Lord to heal the sick woman before going into the synagogue.
Our lesson closes with the account of a great multitude coming to the home of our Lord at even-time bringing with them many sick and those that were possessed with demons. We are told that He healed many that were sick of divers diseases and cast out many devils; and suffered not the demons to speak because they knew Him. How evident it is, not only from this statement but also from the case in which Paul rebuked the damsel who cried, “These are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of eternal life”—that the Lord does not desire the testimony of devils respecting Himself or His plan.
The same is true of all the unregenerate. The word of the Lord is to such, “What hast thou to do to take My word into thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and casteth My words behind thee.” (Psalms 50:17) It is the special privilege of those who are the Lord’s consecrated ones to be His ambassadors, His mouthpieces—it is a special honor conferred upon such; hence the declaration again, “None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”—Daniel 12:10
In what way did the manner of Jesus’ teachings differ from that of the scribes and Pharisees?
Who are the demons referred to in the Gospels, and how do they manifest themselves today?
What are the qualifications of those whom God blesses as His ministers?