42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42–43, NKJV).
Were the many rulers who believed in Jesus saved? If so, they were saved without confessing Jesus. Yet, Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33). Although the rulers believed in Him, they were lost (Rom. 10:9-10). Again we ask, were the many rulers who believed in Jesus saved? If so, they were saved by loving the praise of men more than the praise of God. Yet, Jesus said we must love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Those who love others more than Jesus are not worthy of Him (Matt. 10:37-39; Luke 14:26-27). Like the parents of the blind man Jesus healed, they feared being put “out of the synagogue” (banished from the congregation of Israel, John 9:22). Although the rulers believed in Him, they were lost. Faith only does not save sinners. Faith only did not save the Jewish rulers who failed to confess Jesus. It did not save demons (Luke 8:27-33; James 2:19). It will not save you and me. Believers in Jesus Christ have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). What we do with our faith is the difference between being lost and being saved. Faith prompts submissive and enduring obedience to do the will of God (Heb. 5:9; Phil. 2:12-13). That is the faith that saves the soul (Heb. 10:36-39).
9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him (Matthew 12:9–10, NKJV).
The enemies of Jesus looked for opportunities to accuse Him and destroy His credibility. They carefully watched to see if He would be so bold as to heal on the Sabbath (Luke 6:7). With a disabled man before them, they confronted Jesus in the synagogue, asking whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath (implying that to do so would violate the Sabbath’s work prohibition, Exod. 20:8-10). Jesus explained the law allowed them to show mercy toward animals on the Sabbath; How much more so was it, therefore, “lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:11-12). With that, Jesus healed the man’s hand (Matt. 12:13). His accusers were enraged and left to plot His demise (Matt. 12:14; Luke 6:11). Consider these tips from the text: (1) Those faithless men could not heal the man. But, they could have shown him mercy. Instead, they saw him only as a tool for their devious design against Jesus. (2) Only a person sent from God could work such healing as this (John 3:2). They refused to be convinced by the power of God they saw. Like them, we must learn mercy and show it every day (Micah 6:8; Matt. 9:13). (3) Mercy and truth have met in the Son of God (cf. Ps. 85:10). The Lord of the Sabbath mercifully heals our souls from sin and gives us entrance into eternal rest when our work on earth is over (Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:8-11).
33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. (Luke 4:33–35, NKJV)
Why did Jesus rebuke and silence demons when casting them out? After all, this one and others declared the truth that Jesus is “the Holy One of God,” the Messiah (Lk. 4:34, 41). The answer is one of contrasting the sources of truth and the authority of Christ. As Jesus was teaching in the Galilean synagogues, He showed Himself to be the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (Lk. 4:16-21, 31-32, 42-44). The Messiah, not demons, would “preach the gospel” and “set at liberty those who are oppressed” by sin (Lk. 4:18, 35, 41). Christ gave miraculous evidence of His authority to save souls from sin’s power when He miraculously freed people from demonic possession, (Lk. 4:32, 35-36). Jesus applied His authority as the source of truth when He silenced demons from declaring Him to be the Christ, the Son of God. Christ, not demons, would proclaim “the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:19). Therefore, we must listen to Christ as the final authority for salvation and service to Him (Matt. 28:18-20; Heb. 1:2).
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18–19, NKJV)
We are bombarded with bad news every day. Threats, corruption, wars, diseases, intrigue, and death; these are the daily headlines. Today’s citation was first given by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 61:1-2). Jesus read it in a synagogue in Nazareth and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:21). Jesus came announcing good news. He was anointed by God to preach the gospel and, by it, to proclaim the healing of hearts and liberty from sin’s captivity. His gospel assures the poor in spirit of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). To blinded hearts, it gives sight (Jno. 9:35-41). His gospel proclaims freedom from sin’s oppression to all who believe and obey (Rom. 6:17-18). The gospel of Christ declares the presence of God’s favor and grace (“the acceptable year of the Lord”). God’s grace has appeared to everyone in Christ, offering forgiveness of sins and fellowship with the Almighty as it produces faith (Tit. 2:11-12; Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13). Do not be overwhelmed by all the bad news around us. Listen to the good news of Christ. It will save your soul and lift your heart heavenward every day.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:8–9, NKJV)
It is said that the city of Smyrna in the first century claimed to be “first in beauty, first in literature, first in loyalty to Rome” (Commentary of Revelation, Hailey, 125). It was the seat of the Caesar-cult that afflicted the church during that period. So, Christ assured the saints at Smyrna that He is the First and the Last. No doubt, His primacy of deity and His power over death emboldened them in the face of what they were about to suffer for the name of Jesus (Revelation 2:10). Jesus knew their works (toil), their tribulation (distress and oppression), and their poverty (they were rich in faith, James 2:5; Matthew 6:20). Jesus also knows the words and deeds of the enemies of righteousness, just like He knew those who claimed to be God’s people (Jews) but were not His people (cf. Romans 2:28-29). Those who oppose and oppress Christians and their faithful service to Jesus are a congregation of Satan, serving his evil intents and aims. Take heart and be strong, Christian, when the world hates you. Know they hated Jesus before they hated you (John 15:18). Christ is Lord, not Caesar or any other ruler on earth.