Jesus In The Church, In The House, And In The Street
( Originally Published 1915 )
THE STORY of the great catch of fish was told abroad, for many saw the boats loaded with the fish brought to the shore, and we may be sure that all who ate a breakfast of those fish spoke of the wonder. Partly as a result of this report, when the Sabbath day came, the church in Capernaum was crowded with people to see and hear this new Rabbi. "Rabbi" was the name that Jews gave to men who taught the law in their churches. Although Jesus had never taken the course of study at Jerusalem which would give him that title, he was generally called "Rabbi" by the people. The people listened with wonder to the words of Jesus, for his teaching was very different from that of the scribes who taught the law. He spoke on great things—the kingdom which God was soon to set up, and how the people were to be made ready for his coming. Then, too, he spoke with power, as Lord of all; and the listeners felt that these were the words of one who had been sent by God.
While Jesus was speaking in the church, the service was stopped by the loud screaming of a furious man who had come in. This man was suffering with a terrible evil, worse than any disease. Into his body had come in some way an evil spirit, a demon. This demon controlled the man and drove him to wild acts and words. The words which were spoken by this man's tongue were not his own, but the words of the wicked spirit within him. The spirit, using the man's voice, shrieked aloud:
"Ha, you Jesus of Nazareth, let us alone! What business have you with us? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are; you are God's Holy One!"
But Jesus at once said to the wicked spirit in the man, "Be still, and come out of him!"
At these words the demon threw the man down upon the floor, as if to kill him; and then went out of the man suddenly, leaving him almost .dead. Soon they found that the man, whom everybody had feared before, so fierce had he been, was now perfectly well and quite free from the evil spirit.
Then surprise and wonder came upon all. They talked about it to one another, saying:
"What does all this mean? What new teaching is this? Why, this man speaks to the evil spirits with power, and they obey him and come out."
As the people left the church they told everyone whom they met of this mighty act of Jesus. These men and women told others, and soon the news of Jesus' power went through all the towns and villages in that part of the land.
After the service in the church was over, Jesus went home to dine in the house of Simon and Andrew, and with him went also the two brothers, James and John. In the house they told him that Simon's mother-in-law, the mother of his wife, was very ill, having a high fever. He came, stood by her bed, leaned over her and took her by the hand as if to raise her up. As he touched her, she felt a new power shoot through her body. Instantly the fever left her; she rose up from her bed, perfectly well, and helped to make ready the dinner and serve it.
Jesus stayed in Simon's house that afternoon. When the sun went down and the Sabbath was ended, they found a crowd of people filling the street in front of the house. From all parts of the city they had brought people that were sick, or had evil spirits, like the man whom Jesus had cured in the church. As he came out of the house he laid his hands upon these sick people, one by one; and as soon as he touched them, they rose up well. The evil spirits in some of the men tried to speak to him. But he would not allow them, and gave them command at once to come out of the men in whom they were. They dared not to disobey Jesus, came out and went away.
On that night, while everybody was sleeping, Jesus rose up long before day, while it was still dark, and went out of the city. He found a quiet place, with no houses or people near, and there for hours he prayed to his Father. In the morning he was missed, and Simon Peter, with the others, went out to look for him. They found him and said to him, "Master, come back to the city, for everybody is looking for you!"
But Jesus said, "I was sent not only to your city but to other places also. Let us go out and visit the towns that are near. It was for this purpose that I have been sent by my Father, to preach everywhere the good news of the Kingdom of God."