Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 19. Interruption
Mk 1:23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out
I am always intrigued by this episode early in Jesus’ ministry. I am intrigued that a demon possessed man was in the synagogue. That perhaps challenges many of us. First of all it might challenge those of us who are uncertain about the reality of the existence of demons. If you’ve never encountered a demon possessed person and seen their supernatural strength or heard the unearthly voice(s) that may speak, you have to simply take on trust the Gospel accounts.
But then it may challenge those of us who do believe in demons and demon possession but who see such people as being always totally out of control. Now in my experience that does happen sometimes but I have also observed that a possessed person doesn’t always manifest the demon. In fact much of the time they seem fairly normal. That surely must have been the state here for surely the synagogue leaders would not have tolerated a man breaking lose in their synagogue.
What I also find intriguing is that this man existed in this synagogue without manifesting the demon. I say that because what I have observed over the years is that demons get upset when God turns up in His people. This would suggest a somewhat low level of spirituality in this synagogue that he could be there comfortably!
It is Jesus’ presence that so often seems to trigger demonic manifestation and that occurred in this synagogue on that day – and not before it! Until then, it appears he was comfortable in this place of teaching. I have to confess we have had people into our own church in the past who turn out to be struggling with demons and it was not until the presence of the Holy Spirit was felt did they manifest. This shows that both God and the enemy can both be present but there is no conflict until the Lord makes His presence known in our realm. At that point the enemy starts getting agitated as we’ll see in the next meditation.
It does appear that we can continue in our religious lives, comfortable with mediocrity or even with sin, until the Lord turns up and makes His presence known. At that time things start happening.
Lord, we need you to turn up in our churches and in our lives to deliver us from the mundane and from the little unrighteousness that we might otherwise tolerate. Please come.