When the King Came: Stories from the Four Gospels - George Hodges

A Day of the King's Life

After that, our Lord was very busy with his great work of helping people. At first in Capernaum, and then in other places in Galilee, he went about preaching and blessing. Some of these words of wisdom and works of wonder are written down in the four records of his life which are called the Gospels. Once we have an account of almost a whole day. We know what he did in the morning and in the afternoon and in the evening.

The place was Capernaum, on the Lake of Galilee, where several of the apostles lived, and where our Lord spent so much of his ministry that it was called his own city. It was then a busy town, though to-day nobody knows just where it stood, so completely has it fallen into ruins. A week had now passed since the sabbath at Nazareth, and the holy day had come again, and again our Lord with his disciples went to the service. Here, as at Nazareth, people had been talking together about him, telling what had happened at the wedding feast and in the synagogue. And one day that week he had used Peter's fishing-boat for a pulpit, sitting in it a little way from the land, while the congregation stood upon the shore. And after the sermon he had gone out on the lake with Peter and Andrew, and James and John, while they fished; and they caught so many fish that their net brake, and even the boats were filled so full that they began to sink. After that, the fishermen fished no more for a long time, but went about everywhere with Jesus. People knew that, and talked about it.

So when our Lord entered, everybody in church turned around to see him. "The prophet has come," they whispered. "There he is in the midst of his disciples." And, naturally enough, when the time came for reading the Bible in the service, Jesus was called upon to read and preach: and so he did, and they were all astonished at his teaching. Did you ever hear anybody speak in a very loud and unnatural voice, as if he were speaking a piece, and then somebody else speak quietly and naturally as if he were talking just to you? That is like the difference between the sermons which were usually preached in the synagogue, and the sermons which our Lord preached.

Now there was in the synagogue that morning a man with an unclean spirit; or, as we would say, a lunatic. The mind is still a deep mystery to us, even after all the wisdom of the wisest men. A diseased mind still perplexes the doctors. In that day, they said of some such persons that they had a devil; meaning that an evil spirit dwelt within them and spoke with their lips, and threw them into fits, and tormented them. Nowadays, the doctors speak of a subliminal self and a dual personality, meaning practically the same thing. Only now, people who have evil spirits are not allowed to go to church, but are shut up in hospitals. This poor man had an unclean spirit; that is, in addition to the man's own natural self, there was another self—another spirit—which would take possession of him.

There he sat, then, in the synagogue among his neighbors, a miserable being, and our Lord spoke, and the man listened. And suddenly the other self cried out, "Let us alone; let us alone. What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who then art, the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." And the man fell upon the floor, and when he came to his senses again, his other self, the evil spirit, had gone out of him. That was an interesting thing to happen in church during the sermon!

Some of the people did not like it at all, feeling that he ought not to have done it on the sabbath. They were very careful about the way in which they kept the sabbath, and had made a great many rules about it, so that the day which God made for people to rest in, and to rejoice and be glad in, had become like a day in jail. Our Lord paid no attention to these rules, but lived as naturally and freely on that day as on any other. He said that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, and that they kept the holy day in the holiest way who made it a beautiful and happy day for themselves and for their neighbors. And the people did not like it. They said nothing that sabbath in Capernaum, but they thought much. Afterwards, it was one of the chief matters of complaint against him. But many of the congregation were greatly pleased and astonished, partly by the sermon and partly by the miracle. "What thing is this?" they cried; "what new teaching is this? He speaks even to the unclean spirits and they obey him."

So they stood talking on the steps of the meeting-house, watching him as he walked with his disciples down the street, the man who had been cured walking with them. He was to dine that day at Peter's house. But there was sickness in the family. Peter was married, and his wife's mother made her home with them, and she had a fever. Peter's wife had stayed at home from church to take care of her. And now she met them at the door with a troubled face. And Peter said, "How is your mother?" And she said, "Much worse." And our Lord said, "What is it? What is the matter?" And they told him. And he went in where the sick woman lay, and took her by the hand, and lifted her up. And she was strong and well again, and rose and ministered to them. She went into the kitchen and helped to get the dinner.

That afternoon, the news went from house to house through all the town, and that night, after the sun was set and the air was cool, and the sabbath day was over, they brought to him all the sick folk of the neighborhood, some on beds and some on crutches, crowding all the street before the house. And the Lord came out and stood in the front door, and laid his hands on many of them and healed them.

Thus the busy day was ended amidst the thanks of grateful people, but there were many others like it. Day by day Jesus went about doing good. His heart was full of compassion, and he was very sorry when he saw anybody in trouble. He was not the only person who was curing the sick by a word and a touch, and casting out devils. Many ministers were doing that, and many people have done the same since, even to this day. It has always been wonderful, this effect of a strong mind on a weak body. Even now the men of science do not understand it. It is one among many strange facts which nobody is able to explain. What we do understand is that our Lord was filled with the spirit of pity and mercy. The Son of God, who by his life and words taught us about God, was full of kindness and affection for the sons of men. That is the meaning of the miracles, and it is more important than any miracle.

The next morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. There Peter and the others found him, and said, "All men seek for thee." And he answered, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth."