Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 20. Recognition
Mk 1:24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
I am amazed at the things I sometimes find myself saying, or that I hear other people saying. It seems that sometimes we can’t help but blurt things out. I always find myself laughing when I think of Peter, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the lake, as he sees what appears to be Jesus, blurting out, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (Mt 14:28) I’m sure later on when he looked back on that incident he would have thought to himself, “Whatever was I thinking about!”
I say this for I can see no other reason for this demon possessed man in the synagogue to interrupt that is going on and cry out like this. Almost by definition there is a foolish hostile opposition to God in demons. It seems to me that these words come tumbling out like they do from a little child having a tantrum. It seems they can’t help themselves. When a child grows up, for the sake of appearances, they bite back their words and restrain themselves, but when they are young there is no such restraint; they just pour out what comes to mind, heedless of how it appears.
This is how it seems to be with this demon possessed man. All his inhibitions seem to have gone (like when someone is drunk?) and he just pours out what comes to mind. Now is it the man or the demon? Surely it has to be the latter? When refers to ‘us’ would that have meant the people in the synagogue? Surely not, for Jesus gave no indication of that. In fact in Luke’s account of Jesus first teaching in a synagogue it is clear that Jesus has come to help people. No, surely the ‘us’ refers to the demonic world on earth.
Out of a sense of fear or doom this demon cries out for he, unlike anyone else there, recognises the power and authority in Jesus. He knows that Jesus has both the authority, and the power to back up that authority, that could bring an end to the quiet existence of this demon. The fear that rises in it cannot be held in and so he plaintively cries out in defensive desperation. He knows his time of occupation in this man is near its end. When we face eviction we get upset, and this demon is no exception. He knows what is coming and cannot hold himself back.
Lord, thank you that your authority and power is supreme and none can stand before you. Thank you that you are the Lord!