Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jesus Casts Out A Demon

This miracle, early in Jesus' ministry, involved a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. Demon possession, as it is depicted in Scripture, is "the direct exercise of demonic power from within a person." Sometimes these possessions caused a person to become violent, to hurt themselves or others, to be thrown down in fits, and sometimes to have the ability to tell fortunes, and make predictions.

It has been suggested that the people of Jesus' day would call any unusual behavior demon possession, but in fact Jesus, and others, knew the difference. Some overlap in terminology did exist, but overall demonic possession could be detected through certain types of behavior or physical impairment.

Descriptions of demonic activity are scattered all throughout the gospels and demons are discussed in the epistles as well. In Jesus' day it was believed by some that demonic control of humans would end on the Day of the Lord, and/or in the messianic age. In His own teaching the Lord Jesus confirmed this thinking.

Jesus had already roundly defeated Satan during His forty day ordeal in the desert. Now He was proving Himself victor over Satan's minions.

The demon's question to Jesus,
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?" [Luke 4:34]
revealed Jesus' authority over all evil spirits, and the demons knew it. Perhaps the demon thought that Jesus could not defeat him without also causing harm to the man he possessed. But God is so much more powerful than any other force or entity in the universe!
God is Creator and Sustainor of all that is.
Whatever power or authority Satan and his fallen angels have, it is by God's permission. Their time is limited, and so is their arena, and their power.

Possibly the demon was trying to get control of the situation by calling out the Lord Jesus' true name during this supernatural confrontation, calling attention to the significance of what was happening. Satan and his demons know exactly who Jesus is, but they refuse to accept it. Jesus not only met the challenge, He
* Silenced the demon
* Neutralized his power
* Removed his presence from the man
* And prevented the man from experincing any harm (even though the demon tried, by throwing him down in convulsions)

As one commentator concluded, "Evil cannot stand up to righteousness when righteousness takes a firm stand. Any victory it may appear to have is fleeting."

The crowd was dumbstruck! "What is this teaching?" They had never seen anything like it before, even though excorcism was well-known. But it was Jesus' calm and awesome authority over the forces of evil that amazed them. Who could this man be? The demon's declaration, "I know who you are—the Holy One of God," was their only answer.

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