Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. (Lk. 4:31)
At first glance this verse may seem simply informational; however, upon considering its immediate context it’s rather astonishing. The formerly marveling hometown crowd (vs.22) had turned murderous and sought to make the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry become the end by throwing him over a cliff (vs. 28-29). Despite their anger and effort, Jesus miraculously escaped their clutches, passed through the midst of them, and went His way (vs.30).
The question then becomes: what did He do next?
Did He take a break because He was nearly murdered?
Did He take a vacation because He was discouraged?
Did He give up because His hometown crowd well illustrated how fickle men and women can be?
No. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with breaks and vacations (cf. Mk. 6:31), it’s worth noticing the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do… if an angry mob tried and failed to throw Him over a cliff?” We need not theorize; the answer is seen in what He actually did – He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbaths (Lk. 4:31). Undaunted and undeterred, He stood the course. His priority was to preach the kingdom of God and that’s what He was going to do even though the opposition He faced was sometimes very volatile.
Christians can take great comfort in the fact that the same Jesus who persevered during His earthly ministry lives inside of them via the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Christian’s confidence that he or she will remain steadfast and not sputter out, retreat, or develop phobias of proverbial synagogues and cliffs should not be based upon their own will power, but instead – Christ in them, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Such a precious reality, such an abiding help, such a resource of resolve ought to fuel faith and hope during times of discouragement.
Furthermore, let us take notice of the divine ought that Jesus felt. In Luke 4:43 Jesus said,
“I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (vs.43)
While this isn’t the only time Jesus said “I must” before completing His sentence (Lk. 2:49; 13:33; 19:5; Jn. 9:4; 10:16), it is nonetheless one of those not-seen-all-too-often Scriptural occasions that demands our consideration. Jesus said He must preach the kingdom of God.
Jesus was a preacher with an indissoluble responsibility to teach and preach.
While we are to see Jesus as Savior, and Messiah, and Lord, and Redeemer, we are also to see Him as Teacher. Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, called Jesus “a Teacher sent from God” (Jn. 3:2); the rich young ruler identified Jesus as “good Teacher” (Mt. 19:16); even Pharisees and Sadducees who tried to stump Jesus with questions about rendering taxes to Caesar and the resurrection of the dead, identified Him as “teacher” (Lk. 20:21,28). And He had to be. Jesus said, “the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (Jn. 12:49b). So as a result of both Trinitarian determination and divine necessity Jesus’ life was given to the priority of continuous teaching and preaching – in the synagogues, by the lakeside, in the temple, in homes, on the road, in and from boats, at dinner tables, etc. Unceasingly the Son of God taught concerning the kingdom of God.
I think seeing that should help us better appreciate and embrace the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
J.C. Ryle, commenting on this passage wrote:
Let us beware of despising preaching. In every age of the Church, it has been God’s principal instrument for the awakening of sinners and the edifying of saints. The days when there has been little or no preaching have been days when there has been little or no good done in the Church. Let us hear sermons in a prayerful and reverent frame of mind, and remember that they are the principal engines which Christ Himself employed, when He was upon earth. Not the least, let us pray daily for a continual supply of faithful preachers of God’s word. According to the state of the pulpit will always be the state of a congregation and of a Church.
Thus, if Jesus made such a priority of preaching and teaching we ought to make a priority of listening and applying! And, for those who are called to preach and teach, embrace the divine ought that other followers of Christ have had (cf. 1 Cor. 9:16; Acts 4:20), give proper prominence to the pulpit ministry, persevere in watching your life and doctrine closely (1 Tim. 4:16), and feed Christ’s sheep (cf. Jn. 21:17).