38. Miracle Worker (2)

Focus on Christ Meditations: 38.  Miracle Worker (2)

Mark 1:27   The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”

In the previous study, as we moved on from seeing Jesus as a teacher, we said we would check him as a miracle worker and within that we would consider healings, deliverances, raising the dead and then other miscellaneous miracles. We started with healings and now in this study we will cover deliverances.

For a change we will start by considering Jesus’ deliverance ministry as Luke records it, for he uses the word ‘demon’ more often than any of the other three. In Lk 4:33 we have what is probably the same instance as Mark referred to in our verse above. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! 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!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.” (Lk 4:33-35) Now what is obvious from such examples is Jesus simple, straight forward authority that can speak a word and the demon HAS to leave.

We see him dealing with demons in the above verses in Luke 4, then in Lk 8 the demoniac in the region of the Gerasenes taken over by ‘Legion’, then after coming down the Mount of Transfiguration, the boy (Lk 9:38-42), then the mute man (Lk 11:14). Mark adds the daughter of the Greek woman (Mk 7:26-30).

A brief teaching: demons are evil spirits who only have access to human beings when that person (or their parent in the case of a child) gives Satan access to their life by becoming deeply involved in evil and especially in occult activity. Deliverance is brought about by word of command when the individual is confronted by the authority and power of Jesus. The presence of an evil spirit in a person may be seen by unusual strength (see Lk 8:29), the person going and doing things that humanly they might not have wanted to do (ditto) and even speaking in a voice that is clearly not that of the person. The evil spirit may also inflict the individual with some form of disability, e.g. fits (Lk 9:39), dumbness (Lk 11:14), deafness (Mk 9:25). When a person is delivered they need to be built up in Christ else there will be the risk of the demon returning (see Mt 12:43-45).

Now we see Jesus generally dealing with demons in the general descriptions that we saw previously in examples that included general healings, e.g.

  • News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” (Mt 4:23,24)
  • “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” (Mt 8:16)

Again, note the “with a word”. Where there is the authority of Jesus, that is all that is needed. We do not scream or shout at the demon. If the demon is being noisy we simply command it in the name of Jesus to be silent (see Mk 1:25). We do not want to create a show and make the delivered person feel even more embarrassed afterwards. A demon will often try and make the person move in and out of consciousness and so, like Peter and John at the gate beautiful (Acts 3:4), invite the person to focus on you and seek to resist the enemy by remaining ‘awake’ and listen to you. Tell them what you are going to do and explain there may or may not be some physical manifestation and then, with their permission, command the enemy to leave. If a battle ensues, persist in your determination to declare that Jesus is Lord and this demon MUST leave.

Now what we are talking about here is pure spiritual warfare which requires a) for you to be a Christian who b) has a right relationship with the Lord and knows they are a child of God who exercises the authority of the Lord. In Acts we find an example of those seeking to perform deliverance ministry that went astray – see Acts 19:13-16 – because they were neither of these two things. Know your position in Christ, know your calling, and be careful not to exceed the faith the Lord gives you as you move, filled by the Spirit, under the guidance of the Spirit. Do not use the name of Jesus as a talisman and do not be derisory or abusive in respect of the enemy (check out Jude 1:8-10).

Now it is clear, even as Acts 19 shows, that there are ‘other people’ who appear able to carry out deliverance ministry, but the records in respect of Jesus show the level of authority that he exercised that puts him above any others. In this study we have moved into the realm of practicalities simply because so often this subject creates unreasonable fear that comes from ignorance. The key is knowing, not only who Jesus is (the Lord of ALL), but also who you are and remembering that, the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 Jn 4:4)

What we should also note is that, clearly, authority was missing in religious circles before Jesus came, in that the demon possessed could obviously happily co-exist with God’s people in weekly synagogue worship and this only changed when the presence of God came in the form of His Son. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he gave them authority to cast out demons (see Mt 10:1) and after Jesus ascended back to heaven we see this ministry continuing through the apostles: “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.” (Acts 5:16)  See also Acts 8:17,  and 19:11,12.

Without doubt, this aspect of Jesus’ ministry was part of that referred to in the Isaiah prophecy that he read in the synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18,19) And so it continues today. Hallelujah!

58. Problems

Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 58. Misc. Problems

Mk 3:20-21 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Life with Jesus was never dull! The good side of it was that you witnessed amazing healings and deliverances. Joy must have been the currency of the day. But then there were the problems that accompanied all that.

First of all, popularity meant large numbers of people. Jesus turns up and is invited into a house. The word quickly spreads that he is there and before you can blink there are people streaming to the house, wanting to meet Jesus and be touched and healed by him. The tide of human beings is at flood proportions and the house is filled with bodies. It is almost impossible to move and with the demands upon him there is no time to stop and take a leisurely meal. Time would have rushed by and a day without food became normal.

Then there was the problem of dissenting voices. Already Mark has recorded those voices from the Pharisees and other religious people but now those voices are joined by his own family. The saying is that a prophet is not honoured in his own country and it is true of all leaders. Those closest to them take them for granted and fail to see the grace and goodness of God flowing in them. Often it is that those who are closest to us know our weaknesses and our foibles and those things blind them to the good things.

For Jesus is must have been a case of familiarity breeds contempt. His family knew him, knew him to be the son of a carpenter, a carpenter himself. The thought of him becoming a spiritual leader was too much for them. They were blind to the healings and the miracles and the teaching; they could only see the man they knew. They say that prejudice blinds, but so does familiarity, for there is no other way to explain the reactions of his family who claim, “He is out of his mind”.

It is, of course, always possible that his family, despite who Jesus is, were just a part of the mass of mankind in Israel for whom a relationship with God was unreal. That some of them al least came through in the end, doesn’t mean that for much of his ministry time his family was not behind him and were part of unbelieving Israel. Each individual has to believe in his own right.