Morning Sermon: The Good News Of The Kingdom Of God, Luke 4:31-44

Old Testament Reading: Zephaniah 3  

“Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city! She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave nothing till the morning. Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law. The LORD within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame. ‘I have cut off nations; their battlements are in ruins; I have laid waste their streets so that no one walks in them; their cities have been made desolate, without a man, without an inhabitant. I said, ‘Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.’ But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. ‘Therefore wait for me,’ declares the LORD, ‘for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring my offering. On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, those who are left in Israel; they shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.’ Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,’ says the LORD.” (Zephaniah 3, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Luke 4:31-44

“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. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’ And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:31–44, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


Brothers and sisters, it seems evident to me that there is a ditch on both sides of the road as it pertains to the proper interpretation of this passage.

On the one side, you will find those who read this text and assume that Jesus came for this purpose: to free all who are sick and oppressed so that they might be healthy and prosperous on earth today. You have probably encountered this view. It is very popular in our society. There are many who claim to be Christians who will read stories like the one here in Luke 4 and think that this was Jesus’ mission – to make people healthy, wealthy, and prosperous in the here and now.  

Honestly, it is not difficult to see where such a view comes from. A careless and narrow reading of this passage (and others like it) can give the impression that this was Jesus’ mission. 

When I speak of a careless reading, I mean a reading which focuses on the miracles performed by Jesus – his casting out demons and healing from diseases – while ignoring the beginning and the end of the text, which stresses that Jesus was devoted to preaching the good news of the kingdom of God in the synagogues. In fact, in Luke 4:43 we hear Christ say, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43, ESV). So, Christ’s stated purpose – his mission – was not to make everyone healthy and prosperous now. No, his purpose was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and to establish this kingdom in power. The miracles that Jesus performed must be interpreted in light of this stated purpose. Did Jesus cast out demons? Did he heal people from their physical affliction? No doubt! But the question we must is why? Did he cast out demons and heal because this was his purpose – to make everyone whole and well in the here and now? Or did he perform these miracles for another reason, perhaps as a demonstration that the kingdom of God had come with power? A careful reading of the text will show us that this was the case. Jesus stated purpose was to inaugurate God’s kingdom, and these miracles performed by him were a demonstration, or sign, that the kingdom was here. In fact, in Luke 11:20 Jesus explicitly states that this was the meaning of the miracles when he said, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20, ESV). Let us not be careless in our reading of Scripture, brothers and sisters. When we learn that Christ healed and cast our demons, we must ask the question why?

And when I speak of a narrow reading, I mean a reading of this text (and others like it) that ignores other passages of Scripture that make it quite clear that it is not always the will of the Lord to heal and to make his people prosperous in the here and now. To put it bluntly, a person would have to ignore a great deal of the New Testament and the Old to claim that God’s will is to make his people healthy and prosperous on earth now through faith in Christ. Consider a few things:

One, Christ himself suffered in the flesh even to the point of death. When he cried out to the Father in the garden to take the cup of suffering from him, he added, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, ESV). And we know that it was the will of the Father that Christ would suffer unto death.

Two, those who have faith in Christ are called to identify with Christ in his suffering. Consider Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” So then, true followers of Christ are not immune from suffering. On the contrary, we are called to suffer with Christ. As you can see, this teaching that Christ came to free us from all suffering runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture.

Three, even the Apostles of Jesus suffered in this life. They suffered, even to the point of death. For example, Paul tells us about a thorn in his flesh. Now, we do not know what exactly this “thorn” was, but it was certainly an ailment of some kind that bothered him deeply. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Pauls says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8–10, ESV). The Greek word translated as “weakness” may also be translated as “incapacity”. “Insults” means “mistreatments”.  The word “hardships” is a generic word referring to “troubled times”. To be persecuted is to be harassed by others. The word “calamities” refers to difficult circumstances of any kind. You see, Paul pilled up these words to communicate that he would gladly endure afflictions of any kind if it was the will of God to use them to draw him into a closer dependence upon the Lord. 

Four, consider that devout Christians throughout the history of the church have suffered afflictions. Consider also that all will eventually face death. 

And five, do not forget the many passages of Scripture that instruct the believer concerning the way they are to respond to afflictions.    

Christians are to rejoice in their sufferings, knowing that God will bring good from them. As Paul says in Romans 5:3, “but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

Christians are to comfort one another in their afflictions even as they are comforted by God. Listen to 2 Corinthians 1:3ff. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:3–6, ESV).

Christians are called to patiently endure while experiencing afflictions. Listen to James 5:10-11: “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10–11, ESV).

I could pill up many more Scripture texts that make it clear that faithful Christians living in this present evil age should not be surprised (1 Peter 4:12) when they experience trials of various kinds (James 1:2), but I think this will do for now. The point is this: A careful and broad reading of Scripture makes it impossible to think that Christ came to free his people from afflictions and to make us healthy, wealthy, and prosperous in the here and now. Only a very careless and narrow reading of Luke 4 (and other passages like it) could produce such a view. So let us take care lest we begin to slip into that ditch of misinterpretation. 

But there is a ditch on the other side of the road that we must also be sure to avoid. I would imagine that most who end up in this ditch land there because they overreact against the error just mentioned. And so what is the other error that must be avoided? I think it can be stated like this: Jesus came to provide for the forgiveness of our sins and to save our souls, but he is not at all concerned with our physical bodies or our prosperity on earth. To hold to a view like this one would have to spiritualize these stories of Jesus healing the sick. They would view these physical healings as mere signs of Jesus’ power to heal the soul. Though somewhat true, this view is ultimately incorrect.

Brothers and sisters, please hear me. Jesus came to save whole persons, body and soul. 

He came to set his people free from the tyranny of the devil, body and soul. 

He came to reverse the effects that man’s fall into sin has had on us, body and soul. 

Christ came to establish a new creation and to do away with the old which has been wrecked by sin. He will bring his people – that is to say, all who have faith in the Messiah – safely into this new creation, body and soul. 

There in the new heavens and earth, “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4, ESV). Christ will bring his elect into the new heavens and earth, body and soul.

Stated in one more way, Jesus the Messiah came to destroy the devil and his works. He came to overthrow Satan’s kingdom and to establish his kingdom – the eternal kingdom of God. He came to redeem his people from the kingdom of darkness and to bring them safely and securely into his eternal kingdom of light, body and soul. 

So then, there is a sense in which it is true that Christ came to give his people health, wealth, and prosperity on earth. The trouble with the Prosperity Gospel (as it is often called) is not its insistence that Christ has earned health, wealth, and prosperity for his people, but rather its insistence that those of faith will have all of these blessings on this earth now. You see, the prosperity preachers have gotten ahead of themselves. They have failed to distinguish between life in this present evil age and life in the age to come. When, brothers and sisters, will God wipe away every tear from our eyes? When will death be no more? And when shall there be no mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore? Answer: in the life to come after Christ returns to judge and to make all things new? For then, at that time, the former things will have passed away (Revelation 21:3–4, ESV). And where will these pleasures be enjoyed? Answer: Not in this fallen, sin-sick world, but in the world to come – that is to say, in the new heavens and earth, which Christ has earned by his death and resurrection. You see, it’s about timing and location. 

I think it is important that we speak of all this in terms of the kingdom of God, for that is how Christ spoke of his mission in the passage that is before us today. He performed these miracles while preaching the good news of the kingdom (Luke 4:43).

 So let me ask you, when will Christ’s kingdom be present with power? If you have been here for any length of time you have probably heard me say that Christ’s kingdom is here now but not yet in its fullness. 

Christ’s kingdom broke into this world in power when Christ came for the first time to accomplish our redemption through his life, death, and resurrection. It was then at his first coming that he said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It was then that he defeated Satan (Luke 4:1-15). It was then that he cast him down from heaven (Luke 10:18). It was then that he bound him so that he could plunder his house (Revelation 20:1-3; Matthew 12:29). It was then that Christ, having accomplished his work through his humiliation, was exulted to his heavenly throne and sat down Hebrews 1:3). Christ is King now (Revelation 19:16). All authority in heaven and earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18). 

Christ kingdom is present on earth now. It is present wherever the church is present. It is present wherever God’s people assemble to say, Jesus is Lord. But is the kingdom of God here in fullness? No. The kingdom has been inaugurated but not yet consummated. When will the kingdom of heaven be here in full? When Christ returns. As 1 Corinthians 15:24 says: “Then comes the end, when [Christ] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet…” (1 Corinthians 15:24–28, ESV).

You see, there is something progressive about the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. The kingdom broke into the world with power when Christ came for the first time. The kingdom will grow and expands until Christ returns. And when Christ returns, the kingdom will be consummated. Then, there will be no more sin, sickness, and death, for then Satan will be fully and finally judged and his kingdom cast out. 

Jesus spoke about the progressive expansion of his kingdom when he said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened” (Luke 13:18–21, ESV).

So what does all of this kingdom talk have to do with our passage? Answer: everything. 

Notice that our text begins with the mention of Jesus’ preaching. Luke 4:31 says, “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” (Luke 4:31–32, ESV). And what was Jesus preaching about? We are told in verse 43: “But he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43, ESV). Christ came to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God was near. And he came to inaugurate the kingdom through his victory over Satan, sin, and death. 

The miracles performed by Jesus in this passage – the casting out of a demon in verses 33-37, the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law in verses 38-39, and the report that he healed many and cast demons out of many in verses 40-41 – are to be viewed as a demonstration of Jesus’s power and authority, and as a sign that his kingdom of was at hand. These miracles also demonstrate the power and authority that Christ has to overthrow the devil and overturn his works.   

That Jesus has power over Satan and Satan’s kingdom is demonstrated by his casting out of demons. By the way, ​​demons are angels who fell along with Satan, the prince of the demons. And notice what the demons said when they were cast out by Jesus. The demon who was cast out of the man in the synagogue said, “Ha!” The Greek word translated as “Ha” communicates the emotion of surprise or anger. “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” (Luke 4:34, ESV). So then, the demon knew who Jesus was – God incarnate – and that he had come ultimately to destroy them. In verse 41 we read, “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” (Luke 4:41, ESV). These demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God incarnate, the Christ (or Messiah), and that he came to overthrow them and to establish his eternal kingdom. 

Verse 36 says the people “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!” Yes, exactly. This was a demonstration of Jesus’ authority and power. He has authority and power over Satan, his minions, and his kingdom, and he demonstrated that authority by casting demons out by his word. 

And what about the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law? Here Christ demonstrates that he has the power to eradicate disease. This does not mean that he has eradicated sickness from the world now, nor does it mean that his people will never be ill, or that it will always be his will to heal. No, to think this would be to read too much into the text. To hold to this view would also require us to ignore many other passages of Scripture, as has already been said. The point is that Christ has power and authority over illness. He can drive it out. It may be his will to drive it out of us in the here and now when we come to him in prayer, just as he did with the mother-in-law of Peter. And so we are not wrong to pray for healing. But when we bring these desires of ours to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit, we ought to follow the example of our Lord and say, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42, ESV). Does Christ possess the authority and power to eradicate illness (and even death itself)? Yes! How did he get this power? Through his victory over Satan and his kingdom. And when will he purge this earth of Satan, his demons, all sickness, suffering, and death itself? On the last day when he will judge and make all things new. Then  “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things [will] have passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4, ESV). 


Brothers and sisters, I have preached rather strongly against the so-called prosperity gospel this morning. This idea that Christ came to make us healthy, wealthy, and prosperous now, and that illness, poverty, and afflictions are always the result of a lack of faith or of God’s displeasure is so wrong and so damaging. This false teaching, if believed, will isolate people from God because all suffering will be perceived as a sign of God’s displeasure. But we know that God is sovereign over our suffering and that he is near to his people in the midst of suffering. He promises to work all things for good for those in Christ (Romans 8:28). And he invites his people to draw near to him in their suffering. In fact, the Lord often uses afflictions to draw us nearer to God and to teach us to depend more on him and less on ourselves. And this false teaching will also drive people from one another. Those who believe that afflictions are the result of a lack of faith or a sign of God’s displeasure will not be able to comfort their brethren in the midst of afflictions, but will be like Job’s bad counselors who could only demand that he repent, for surely, they assumed, the suffering he experienced could only be the result of some personal sin. But Job did not suffer because of personal sin. He suffered because it was the will of the Lord to permit it and to use it for good. God had some purpose in it that no one could see.

Brothers and sisters, I doubt that any here will be tempted to buy into this distortion of the gospel, which is no gospel at all. But I would assume that many of us do wrestle inwardly when we see God’s people suffer. Why, O Lord, would you allow this? we ask. And while we may never have all of the answers to our specific questions, we do know that even our sufferings are ordained by God, that he is with us in the midst of it to work in us for good, and that he will keep us to bring us safely into our eternal inheritance, where Satan, sin, sickness, and death will be no more. Jesus demonstrated his power over Satan, sin, sickness, and death at his first coming so that his people might know for certain that he has the power and authority to save us from these things and to bring us safely into the new heavens and earth where these evils that bring us sorrow now will be abolished forever. 

Jesus did not come to save your soul only, brothers and sisters. He came to save you, body and soul. The Son of God took to himself a true human body and a human soul so that he might redeem us body and soul through his victory. We speak often of the salvation of the soul. Yes, through faith in Christ, your sins have been forgiven and your soul is renewed. In Christ, you have a new mind, new affections, and a new will. You are being sanctified in the soul now. You will be perfected in the soul at the consummation – never will you sin again. But do not forget about the salvation of your body. When Christ returns, your body will be raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42). It will be glorified and empowered forever by the Holy Spirit. Never again will the body suffer sickness or pain. Never will it deteriorate. Never will it die. Do not forget about the body, brothers and sisters. Christ came to save you, body and soul. In this life, we suffer bodily afflictions for the refinement of the soul. When Christ returns, these former things will pass away. 

Until then, brothers and sisters, we must patiently and faithfully endure. 

We must patiently and faithfully endure in the mind, knowing that God loves us in Christ Jesus and that he works all things for the good of his children. Is your mind strong, friends? Is it filled with God’s truth?

We must patiently and faithfully endure with our affections. By this I mean,  we must draw near to God, and not run from him, when calamity strikes. We must be like Paul in this regard,  who boasted in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ would rest upon him. For the sake of Christ, he was content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For he knew that it was when he was weak that he was strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:8–10). When Paul suffered, he ran to God through faith in Christ and he relied all the more on his grace. And so I ask you, is your heart strong? Is your heart filled with love for God and Christ? Is your heart filled with the assurance of his love for you, even when calamity strikes?

And when we suffer afflictions, we must patiently and faithfully endure with our wills. By this I mean, we must choose to obey Christ, and not sin against him in thought, word or deed. And so I ask, is your resolve to follow Christ in this world strong? 

Lastly, I say to you, to live this way now, in body and soul, requires faith in Christ – we must walk by faith and not by sight. If you have faith in Christ you know that he has redeemed you, body and soul. And it is this faith in Christ that produces within us, peace, endurance, character, and hope (see Romans 5:1-5). In Christ we have peace. In Christ we have hope. In Christ we find comfort.  

I’ll conclude now with a reading of Heidelberg catechism question 1. It’s a beautiful statement of Gospel truth that I will sometime use to comfort those in times of affliction. 

It asks the Christian, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?


That I am not my own,

1 but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—2

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.3

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4

and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5

He also watches over me in such a way6

that not a hair can fall from my head

without the will of my Father in heaven;7

in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8

Because I belong to him,

Christ, by his Holy Spirit,

assures me of eternal life9

and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready

from now on to live for him.10

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20

2 Rom. 14:7-9

3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14

4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2

5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11

6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5

7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18

8 Rom. 8:28

9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14

10 Rom. 8:1-17

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