“Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:26)
It’s still very early in the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. He’s been baptized by John and begun to gather his disciples. Now he walks into the village of Capernaum, finds the synagogue, and starts to teach. He teaches as one who has authority because he is speaking on behalf of the Author. Then he goes on to demonstrate the authority of his words by the power of his deeds. There’s a man in the congregation who is possessed by a demon. Jesus commands the spirit to come out of the man, and in a rather dramatic fashion, it does. And everybody is amazed.
If you were to put yourself into this scene, who would you be? Most of us, out of appropriate humility, would not identify with Jesus. And most of us, out of pride, would be equally reluctant to see ourselves as the demon. The majority of us are going to opt for anonymous membership in the crowd of amazed onlookers. It’s a pretty safe place to stand.
But there’s a veritable treasury of spiritual and practical benefits that is ours for the taking if we’re willing to step out and do something a little … risky. What if we were to put ourselves in the place of the man with a ‘unclean spirit’? We would be in touch with our own helplessness in the face of the power of sin and death and evil. We would know our need for a savior, someone on our side who is not only more powerful than any challenge we might confront. We would see a compassionate Jesus whose own heart is broken by the fact that we are “possessed” by a force that prevents us from being the person we were created to be. We would see a powerful Jesus who speaks and acts with an authority that instills terror in anyone or anything that stands on the side of tyranny and oppression, anyone or anything that would seek “possess” the beloved children of God. We would know ourselves to have been set free from that which possessed us.
When we know ourselves to have been redeemed and made free, we become signs to the world of the inbreaking kingdom of God, and the world is amazed. The world can marvel at the power in which God has acted on our behalf, and people’s hearts can be melted to the same liberating love that has set us free. It all depends on where you see yourself in the story.
Look It Up
The gospels are full of stories about Jesus casting out “demons” or “unclean spirits.” But in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus’ followers are entrusted with that ministry. See Acts 5:16, 8:7, 19:12.
Think About It
The modern mind has difficulty with the idea of demons. Yet, we can certainly be “possessed” by forces from which we need deliverance. What threatens to possess you?