Learning to Listen

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! 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!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.

After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.

As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.

Luke 4:31-44

How different are Jesus’s actions in Capernaum from His actions in Nazareth! In Nazareth Jesus told the synagogue exactly who He was, yet refused to give a sign. But in Capernaum, He heals all kinds of people, yet kept the spirits from telling anyone who He was. And people reacted very differently too. In Nazareth they tried to throw Him off a cliff, but in Capernaum they begged Him not to leave.

I think this says a lot about how we interact with God. We crave a sign or proof. Anyone claiming to know answers without one of the two we reject as insane or lying. And when it really comes down to us, what God says matters a lot less to us than what He does. We want to see Him working in our lives and making them better; just hearing His promises and knowing He always keeps them isn’t enough. When we can’t see, we doubt, and once we start doubting it becomes easier to reject Jesus. I think we all do this to some extent. It’s human nature.

Right now I am really struggling with this. I am going through a difficult time on all sides, and it feels like God has left me alone with my problems. Even though in my mind I know He is taking care of me, that everything is part of His plan, and that He will never leave me to my trials alone, my heart feels completely abandoned. I am so frustrated with God for not being there for me that I’ve started refusing to pray, insisting that He isn’t listening. I’m no better than the people in Nazareth. God won’t give me an obvious sign, so I throw Him off a cliff.

But that’s not how God feels. It’s no mistake that Luke paired these healings with stories of teaching. In fact, this story begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. See, to God it’s the teaching that matters. If we’ve heard God’s word and know that our sins are forgiven, and that we are granted eternal life in His presence, what does sickness or hunger really matter? When God has given us food to eat and clothes to wear every day, how can we need more proof that He is working in our lives? He didn’t snap his finger and fix everything wrong in my life? WHO CARES? He freaking sent His only son to die on the cross so that I could be in a closer relationship with Him! If we really listened to all the things Jesus has told us, maybe our craving for proof that God loves us would disappear.

You’ll notice that this story ends with Jesus proclaiming the message in the synagogues. Not a coincidence.

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