In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, (Luke 4:33 NASB)
The story of this demon-possessed man is not included by accident. There are multiple lessons to be drawn from this pasage, but today we will look at the response of the Capernaum congregation. You may remember that the Nazareth congregation was so filled with murderous rage by Jesus's teachings that they tried to throw him off a cliff. The Capernaum group seems to be of a different mindset. They have a shouting, demon-possessed man in their midst, and apparently no one throws him out, no one tries to quieten him, no one moves against him at all. In a village as small as Capernaum, they certainly knew him, but no one blocked his entrance to the synagogue.
Think about this a minute. How likely is it that a demon-possessed man would even want to go to the synagogue? Undoubtedly, it was previenient grace that drew him there, but it seems that he went to synagogue that day knowing he would be allowed in the meeting. Remember, this was a special day at Synagogue. The miracle-working teacher ( who some said was the Messiah) was the "visiting preacher" that day. As humans do, the people of Capernaum had probably talked about it to their friends and were probably excited and expecting something special. Our inclination would be to impress the visitor and try to "look good" for him. An out-of-control demon-possessed man doesn't really fit with that plan, yet he was there.
Can it be that they loved the unlovely and welcomed the unruly? I suspect so, or at least this particular unruly man.
The important point is that, in welcoming him and allowing him to be present when Jesus came, they ushered in the circumstances that led to his healing and redemption. How amazing is that? In welcoming the unruly and unlovely, we can have a part in bringing them to Jesus!
I often look around my church and wonder why everyone looks just like me. Maybe the building is too big and fancy for the unruly to risk entering. Maybe they aren't sure of a welcome. (I think they would be welcomed, though) The real reason is probably that we are not doing all we could to bring them in. Those of us who live under the Great Commission are supposed to be making disciples (rescuing the perishing), and a part of that requires that we bring them to Jesus and welcome them as we do.
Today, pray that we have hearts that recognize the need of those around us and eagerly bring them to Jesus, no matter how different or unlovely they are. Pray that we would welcome all who come, just as Jesus welcomed us. Pray too that our children and loved ones will find the body of Christ to be warm and welcoming and that God would send the perfect laborer to bring them back to Christ.