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A Day in the Life of Jesus - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Mark 1:21-34

  • 2008-10-05 PM
  • The Memoirs of Peter
  • Sermons


It was in 1949 that a Catholic priest from Maryland claimed to have exorcised a demon from a thirteen-year-old boy named, Robbie. According to the priest, this was an ordeal that played out in two states, and lasted for six weeks. At the time of these events in 1949, in April of 1949, several area newspapers reported on it because the priest gave a speech to an amateur, parapsychology society in which he recounted the events supposedly of those six weeks in which this demon was exorcised. They could have not known then, those newspaper writers nor the priest involved, that that was to become the most infamous exorcism account in modern history. Because the next year, 1950, a student in the class of 1950 at nearby Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, heard that priest's account.

Twenty years later in 1971, William Peter Blatty, that Georgetown student, wrote a horror novel inspired by that account, and in 1973, two years later, his best-selling novel became a movie. The novel and the movie entitled The Exorcist. That was a fictional account of a supposed exorcism. While that's fiction, the reality of the powers of darkness is not fiction, and the Scripture very clearly reveals that Jesus in His life and ministry encountered the very real powers of darkness.

Tonight, we get to see Jesus demonstrate His authority and power over the real powers of darkness, not the fictional ones. Now first, it's important to see how these verses that we're going to study tonight fit into the flow of the book. Let me remind you as we begin of a brief outline of Mark's Gospel. It breaks down into two parts basically: He was sent to serve, chapters 1 - 10; and sent to save, chapters 11 - 16.

We find ourselves in the middle of His ministry. You see capital letter "B" there under Roman numeral 1, running all the way from the first chapter through the end of the tenth chapter. And specifically, we are in His ministry to Galilee, beginning in verse 14 of chapter 1, running all the way through 7:23. His ministry in Galilee. We've seen the essence of His ministry. We've seen Him call His disciples together in this first chapter, and now we find ourselves in this first chapter verses 21 - 34, in an overview of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. These verses, verses 21 - 34, describe just one day in our Lord's life, a day in the life of Jesus. Not just any day, but a Sabbath day. A Sabbath day in which He goes into the Synagogue in His new hometown Capernaum. All of these events occur in the city of Capernaum during one day's time, and they occur in or near the synagogue.

Let me remind you that when you look at the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum is on the northwest shore. You see up here in this area is Capernaum, that's where the ancient village was. Here is the synagogue itself (I showed you a picture of this last time); this is the interior. Now this is the three hundreds now (the synagogue you're looking at), the fourth century, but the foundation of the synagogue in which Jesus ministered sits beneath this synagogue. And so, this would have been the place where Jesus would have been on this day. Now, when you look at that synagogue, you understand the events I'm about to read to you occurred there. Let me read for you Mark 1, beginning in verse 21, Mark 1:21:

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet and come out of him!" Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now, Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak because they knew who He was.

As you can see, the theme of this section is clearly Jesus' authority. The people in Capernaum were fascinated with the authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus had this "real" authority. And looking closely at just this one day clearly demonstrates that compelling authority in His life and ministry.

Now two weeks ago, we looked at the first two verses of this paragraph where we saw Jesus teaching with authority, Jesus teaching with authority. You saw in verse 21 that His primary venue was in the Synagogue in Capernaum. We talked about what that looked like, what the typical synagogue service was like. And the primary response was "they were amazed at His teaching," verse 22 says. And the reason for that was because He had an authority in His teaching that was missing from the spiritual leaders they were used to hearing. They were fascinated by it, and it was Jesus' simple explanation of what the Bible said that gave Him His authority, because His teaching was based on the Scripture. That's why He could teach with such authority. And we can, too.

Although, certainly not the same as Christ, because He had a personal authority based on His person and His spotless character, but we too can teach with authority as long as our message is based on God's Word. But there was an authority with Jesus that was specific to Jesus and to those to whom He gave that authority (namely His apostles), and that was not the authority to teach, but the authority to act, the authority to act. And in Mark 1, we see this second expression of Jesus' authority. Not only do we find Him teaching with authority, but we find Him acting with authority, and that's what I want us to begin to look at tonight.

In this paragraph where we see Jesus' authority on display, there are two very distinct expressions of Jesus' authority to act. They are casting out demons and healing. In these verses, Mark first describes an exorcism of an individual case. Then he describes a healing of an individual case (Peter's mother-in-law), and then finally He describes exorcism and healing of almost an entire city that evening, and each of these has a lesson to teach us.

Tonight, I want us just to examine the first act of Jesus' authority, and that is that one act of exorcism in the synagogue; that individual case, a case study if you will, of the authority and power of Jesus. Now there are two accounts of this: the one we're studying here together, and the parallel passages in Luke 4. And there are a couple of details we'll draw out of Luke 4 that sort of add to the story.

First of all though, when we look at this account of this exorcism, beginning in verse 23 running down through verse 28, we see a demonic disturbance. Verse 23 says, "Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit." Apparently, Jesus, as Jesus taught in His home synagogue (remember now He lives in Capernaum), and as He's teaching there in His home synagogue, or perhaps He's just finished teaching and the scrolls are being put away, a loud shriek rang out through that large teaching hall. It came from a man in the synagogue. Now since those who were believed to be demon possessed were not allowed to enter a synagogue, either this man was not known in Capernaum, or he had not exhibited this sort of bizarre behavior before.

Mark tells us the reason he interrupted. Notice what he says, "he was in an unclean spirit," literally is what he says. Luke puts it a little differently. Luke says, "he was possessed," or "he was having the spirit of an unclean demon." He was having the spirit of an unclean demon. Jesus is confronted by a strong, supernatural, spiritual being that is by nature unclean. It lacks moral purity. It is utterly polluted and foul to the core of its being. This is the first of several encounters that Mark records of Jesus and demons.

Now before we look in detail at this particular passage itself, I want us to back up for just a few minutes and consider the issue (because this is the first time we meet it) of demon possession. I would strongly encourage you, if you're interested in this topic, if it's a question you've had, a struggle you've had in terms of figuring out all that this means in the, on the pages of the New Testament, there's a great little book. The best book on this topic I believe is simply entitled Demons, by a man named Alex Konya; extremely biblically based, very helpful. And much of what I'm about to share with you is based on my digestion of that book.

Now when you look at demons, and you go back, the Old Testament only mentions demons on two occasions. One of them is in Deuteronomy 32 (it's speaking of the peoples there around), it says, "They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods, whom they had not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread." You'll notice the correlation? They sacrificed to gods, but they really weren't gods, they really were demons. Paul makes this same point of course in 1 Corinthians 10, he says the gods of the nations are idols, and they are animated by demons. In Psalm 106 you see the same message. Psalm 106:36, they, "Served their idols, which became a snare to them. [So, we're talking about idolatry.]

They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols." So, he goes back and forth, back and forth; that's because there is no such thing as any god but the true God. So, those gods that are called gods, don't exist. They don't exist, but they are a front for, they are a distraction, a misdirection, put forward by Satan and his emissaries. They are animated by demons. The Scripture couldn't be clearer on that point.

Now when you come to the New Testament, it's clear in the New Testament that there are individuals who are influenced by demons in various ways. They're influenced toward false doctrine by demons, according to 1 Timothy 4:1. It talks about the doctrines of demons that some people are influenced by: abstaining from marriage and certain foods and so forth. They're influenced, people can be influenced, by demons toward immorality as well, in that same passage. They can be influenced toward attitudes of jealousy, divisiveness, and pride, according to James three, where he describes the wisdom of the world which is "demonic" in its origin. So, there are those that are influenced by demons.

But there are also individuals in the New Testament who are clearly dominated and controlled by a demon. That's the kind of man we meet in Mark 1. Now when the New Testament describes such a person, it uses three expressions to identify these people who are dominated and controlled, or as we call them "demon possessed". Three different New Testament expressions. The first expression is "having a demon," literally the Greek text says. This is the most common way to express it in the New Testament; some sixteen times someone is said to "have a demon." Four times in Mark, as Konya says, "This description, a person "having a demon", pointed especially to the debilitating physical and mental condition that the demonic state has caused." That's because often it'll talk about "having an illness," or "having a disease," and that was to describe the debilitating effects of that disease. Here the person "has a demon," and it describes that same debilitating effect.

The second expression that's used of such people is that they are "demonized," demonized. As you can see there, the Greek word is "daimonizomai". Daimonizomai literally means "to be demonized." It's used 13 times in the New Testament. The New American Standard, the translation we use, most often translated it as "demon possessed." Eleven times they translate it that way. This occurs four times in Mark. This word, or this expression speaks of two things really: indwelling (because you always have this sort of, they're going into the person, they're coming out of the person, they're being cast out of the person, so there's this idea of the demon dwelling within a person); and control and domination. I mean when you look at the various things that the demons are said to do to the people they control: they use their vocal chords to speak, they cause blindness, they give them supernatural strength, they create a situation where they desire prolonged nakedness (even in conditions where it will be painful, where there's cold nights), there's self-mutilation, there's insanity. The demon takes up sovereign residence within the body of a victim. He is demonized.

The third expression the New Testament use, uses, is that he is "in an unclean spirit" literally. This is usually translated "has an unclean spirit" (something like that), but it literally says, "he's in an unclean spirit." This occurs two times in the New Testament: one is here in Mark 1, the other is in Mark 5. This also speaks of being under the control of the demon.

Now these three expressions are really used to describe the same thing. And we can see this because if you look at the Gospel records of the demoniac of Gadara, the Gadarene, the demoniac, these three expressions are all used in different Gospel records for what was happening to him. He was "demonized" according to a couple of passages; he was "in an unclean spirit" according to Mark 5:2; he was "having a demon" according to Luke eight, twenty-seven. So, all three of these expressions mean essentially the same thing.

Now I know there's a an interesting question that most people have is, what does demon possession look like? Turn with me to Matthew 12, because I think here our Lord gives us the clearest description that we can find in the New Testament. You'll remember that there was some discussion back in Matthew 12:22. "When a demon possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, He healed him." And so, then the Pharisees get in on it, and they say in verse 24, Jesus is casting out demons "by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons." So, Jesus gives that famous speech that Abraham Lincoln stole, and then go over to verse 43. In the context of that discussion about demons, Jesus gives us some insight into what this looks like really. He says in verse 43:

"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."

Now what's going on here? This is a warning against self-reformation, but in giving us a warning against self-reformation (you know you clean up your, you clean up your act and you sweep the house, that's how He's describing it here), you only expose yourself to greater evil. Self-reformation can't change someone. That's the point, but I want you see the lessons, the conclusions, that Jesus gives us from this description. First of all, demon possession is the indwelling of a demon or demons within the body of a human being. It says he "goes out of a man," he returns "to my house from which I came." Those expressions very clearly say that the body becomes the dwelling place of the demon.

Secondly, demons desire to indwell human beings. He didn't want to be out of a human being.

Thirdly, it's apparently not easy for a demon to indwell a human being. You notice the description Jesus gives in verse forty-three, "It passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it," and then he decides, "I'm going to go back to the one where I was." Demons can choose to come and go at will. He apparently chose to leave, and chooses to come back. Once demonized, a person is more susceptible in the future if he is not redeemed and changed. Certainly, that lesson is clear from Jesus' account here.

Now what common traits does a demon possessed person show? Well, there's mostly physical and mental torment. And there's a long list of things that characterize this physical and mental -torment and turmoil: wildness, violence, inability to speak, deafness, screaming or crying out, self- mutilation, convulsions, and general torment. In addition to that, you see in that person a personality that is distinct from the human host, and yet it's a personality that shows rationality. And then finally, occasionally, the demon will show supernatural knowledge or clairvoyance as they do with recognizing Jesus, and apparently the slave girl in Acts 16 had some capacity in that direction as well.

Now, I know a question that comes to many people's mind is, why? Why do some people end up demon possessed and not others? There's a temptation to think it's because some people are more evil than others. There's no indication ever in the Gospel records that that's true. There's no indication that they are in fact more evil than anybody else. It appears however, to have involved some degree of willingness on the part of the human host at least initially, as we saw in Matthew 12. There are two possible entrance points if you look at the total of Scripture. You say well, was there anything in their lives that made them more susceptible to this demon control? There appear to be two things: one is idolatry (I've already noted those passages for you), apparently pagan idolatry opens the soul up for this sort of thing; and involvement with the occult, as you find in Acts 16 and Acts 19. Now be careful, the fact that someone's involved in idolatry or the occult doesn't necessarily mean that they will be demon possessed. These things simply seem to make a person predisposed to be in that situation.

By the way, the New Testament clearly implies that Christians can be influenced by demonic thinking. You'll remember, what does Jesus say to Peter? "Get behind Me, Satan!" He wasn't saying Satan was indwelling Peter. He was saying, "You're thinking like Satan. Those are satanic thoughts that I shouldn't proceed to the cross." So, we can be influenced by demonic and satanic thinking, but there's no indication anywhere that Christians can be possessed or dominated or controlled by demons.

Are demons present today? It's an interesting question; the answer would be yes. The question is, in what role? The same role they've always been in, and that is the promoting of false religion. First Corinthians 10:20, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God." False religion is animated by demons. First Timothy 4:1, "The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." So, there are even demons who connect themselves on the fringes of Christianity, looking to pull people away by the false doctrine that they connect to Christianity. First John 4:1, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they're from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." They're about false religion, and they're about adulterating the true religion of worship of Jesus Christ.

You see it at the end time, in Revelation it talks about, "The rest of mankind who are not killed by the plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, the idols of gold and silver and of brass and of stone and of wood which can never which can neither see nor hear nor walk." In other words, the same thing will keep going to the very end. Even in the Tribulation people will still be worshiping demons through their false Gods. Revelation 16:3, that unholy trinity that's a part of the Tribulation, they will have out of their mouths (it describes) three unclean spirits, "the spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together" to Armageddon. So, the demons will be very much involved up to the very end. Revelation 18:2, you remember Babylon? That great emblem of false religion. "He cried out with a mighty voice, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons.'" False religion and false Christianity are all about the work of demons. That's where their energy plays out.

One final question before we return to our study of Mark. Is demon possession common today? It's a question that we have, I mean, does that happen today? The answer is; of course it does. However, there seems to be, biblical evidence, and we can't be absolutely clear here, all right, I'm just going to give you some evidence, but it seems to me, the biblical evidence points toward demonic activity, demon "possession" being not as common today as it was in the time of Christ. Certainly, the influence of demons in false religion, and in undermining Christianity is every bit as prevalent, but demon possession doesn't seem to be. Let me give you my evidence. First of all, there is no clear indication in the Old Testament of demon possession. With the exception possibly of Saul, and there's of course debate about what's going on there, um, but regardless, there's no other indication. Secondly, it was rampant (demon possession was) during the ministry of our Lord in the Gospels, but it begins to scale down as you get to the rest of Scripture.

In fact, the last recorded casting out of demons occurred in Ephesus in Acts nineteen; that was about the years 53 to 56 A.D. There's no other record in all of the New Testament of the casting out of demons after that time. And before 70 A.D., the author of Hebrews referred to the past tense, in the past tense I should say, to signs that the apostles had worked in these miracle actions. So, they appear to have gone away before 70 A.D., the casting out of demons as miraculous power. They were signs of an apostle according to 2 Corinthians 12:12; according to Hebrews 2:3, 4. Is demon possession possible today? Absolutely. Does it happen? I think it does. But I don't think it's as prevalent as it was during the ministry of our Lord. Satan and his hosts knew who Jesus was, they knew why He was here, and they brought their full fury to bear against that little piece of real estate in the Mediterranean during His life.

Now, with that summary of what the Bible teaches about demons and demon possession, let's go back to Mark 1. We're looking at one individual case. Verse 23 says, "Just then [just as Jesus was teaching, just as He was finishing] there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out." To "cry out" here does not mean "to speak up." It means "to shout or scream." It is usually, when this word is used, accompanied by extreme anger or extreme fear. Luke 4 tells us that "he cried out with a great voice," literally a "mega-voice."

On only three occasions in my life, do I believe I've been in the presence of someone who was demon possessed. One of those was in fact accompanied by a scream just like this. Some of you may have been there several years ago, several years before I left Grace. On a Sunday morning of Shepherd's Conference, it happened at the end of the first service at Grace Church. While John was closing the service in prayer, as he was finishing up the service, I and my family were standing there with our heads bowed. And while he was praying, suddenly there was this blood curdling scream that literally filled the whole room. A young woman seated at the back of the section in which I was seated was shrieking out, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs, and there was, there was this obvious sense of panic and fear and dread in her voice. And she screamed out, "Stop, John, I'm going to blow up! I'm going to blow up!" Some ushers helped her out and tried to help her from the Scriptures (several of the pastors did), and unfortunately, it was just a few weeks later (I believe it was a few weeks), it was a short time later that she took her own life. She told her mom that they were coming for her that night, and she took her life. but I believe that that woman was demon possessed as did those who worked with her. But I want you to see that it's not uncommon for this shriek, this scream, to happen.

That's the same kind of thing that happened that Sabbath morning in the first century. Here they are in the synagogue: Jesus is teaching; they're impressed by His teaching. This is amazing! They're sort of looking at each other with their eyes wide thinking, "Wow! What a great teacher! We've never heard anyone teach like this!" And the normal calm of the synagogue was suddenly rocked by a sort of verbal explosion, and the demon that controlled this man began to use his vocal chords to express the demon's thoughts. Notice what he screamed out. Luke tells us, by the way, that he began with an interjection of fear or surprise. "Ha!" As if he were taken back in some way. But then he says, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth?" Literally, the Greek text says this, "What to me and to you?" What to me and to you? It's a little awkward for us, but it was a Hebrew expression. It's used actually in the Old Testament in Judges 11:12 and 1 Kings 17:18. In a context like this it meant something like, "Why are you here, why are bothering me?" It's full of, as Kent Hughes says in his commentary, "malevolent aggression."

Then he says, "Have you come to destroy us?" Now that in and of itself is an interesting expression. "Have you come." Remember, Jesus is in His home town; He lives like, twenty-thirty yards away from the synagogue. So, he's not talking about "You've come from Nazareth," he's not talking about "You've come from next door." It's a clear reference to His deity. "Have You come from heaven to earth to destroy us?" He asked if Jesus at that time intended to destroy him and all of his fellow demons. By the way, isn't it interesting? This unclean spirit understands that Jesus has the power and will eventually exercise it? It shows, apart from divine intervention, a rebel heart will always be a rebel heart, even if knows its destiny.

But what's really worrying this demon is Jesus' true nature. Look at what he says last, "I know who you are, the Holy One of God." This became a name that was often attributed to Christ in the book of Acts: in Acts 2:27; Acts 3:14; Acts 4:27. Perhaps it's taken from Psalm 16. You remember the passage in Psalm 16 where it says, "You will not abandon My soul to Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." Regardless, it couldn't'be clearer that this demon intends to say that Jesus is from heaven, and He is the Special One set apart to God. It is in essence an affirmation of Jesus' deity.

It's interesting that this demon comes forward at this point. I like Kent Hughes comment here, he says: "Whenever the authority of Christ the Son of God is invoked in preaching or teaching, there is a violent confrontation with the evil spirits who possess men's souls and rule their lives. The foul creatures under the stones do not like to be disturbed." And with Jesus' teaching that's exactly what happens. So, we've seen a demonic disturbance.

Secondly, I want you to notice a powerful exorcism. Look at verse 25. "And Jesus rebuked him." It's interesting by the way, to note that the Greek word translated "rebuke" occurs 28 times in the Septuagint. Twenty-one of those times it's used of God overcoming His enemies for His own purposes. So, Jesus is taking the role of God and saying, "You are standing in the purposes of God," and He rebukes him. Notice what Jesus said to him. He rebuked him saying, "Be quiet." Huh, I love this. That same verb is used in 1 Timothy 5:18, when it says … don't muzzle the ox when it treads the grain.

You know what Jesus said to this demon? "Put a muzzle on it! Be muzzled!" That's what He said. "Be muzzled!" It's the first century equivalent of "shut up!" Why? Well, verse 34 says He wasn't permitting them "to speak because they knew who He was." He didn't want that out. Apparently, Jesus didn't want that kind of affirmation. It's like having a gangster for a character reference at a trial. If Jesus had allowed the demons to affirm Him, it would have invited the accusation that did later come that He was in league with whom? The Devil. Beyond that, Jesus didn't want undue popularity that would mess up the timing of His great eternal plan. "Be muzzled! And come out of him." It's clear that the being who was speaking was a real personality, and it's also clear that he was a real personality distinct from the man he was indwelling. "Come out of him." It's clear then, that Jesus is casting a demon out of a human being he had come to indwell, and control, and dominate.

Now exorcisms were not uncommon in the first century, but what fascinated and mesmerized the people of Capernaum was that Jesus, listen carefully, Jesus was not an exorcist. Why do I say that? Because first century exorcists followed certain methods: there were rites, and there were charms, there were incantations, there were magical formulas. Let me give you an example. One account written by Josephus, the Jewish historian, of a man named Eleazar, who supposedly performed exorcisms in the presence of the Roman Emperor, Vespasian. Listen to his description. Josephus writes:

Eleazar put to the nose of the possessed man a ring, which had under its seal one of the roots prescribed by Solomon [not the Solomon of the Bible], and then as the man smelled it, drew out the demon through his nostrils. And when the man at once fell down, adjured the demon to never come back into him, speaking Solomon's name and reciting the incantations which he had composed. Then wishing to convince the bystanders and prove to them that he had this power, Eleazar placed a cup or foot basin full of water a little way off, and commanded the demon as it went out of the man to overturn it, and make known to the spectators that he had left the man.

Jesus wasn't an exorcist like that. In fact, the only exorcists in the New Testament are in Acts 19, and they're the false exorcists. You remember the Jewish exorcists who tried to cast out demons in the name of Jesus and Paul? And they said, we know Jesus and we know Paul, but who are you? Jesus didn't use the methods of an exorcist even once. Notice what Jesus did instead. He simply issued a command: three Geek words translated as "come out of him." One commentator writes, "There's no incantation, no ritual, no props of any kind, simply an authoritative word of command." Verse 26 says, "Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a great voice [a mega-voice] and came out of him," physically shaking the man. This physical shaking and loud cry are simply the last defiant and desperate acts of an utterly futile resistance. Luke 4 adds that the demon threw the man down, but he came out "without doing him any harm."

The third scene in the drama in Capernaum is an explosive reaction. An explosive reaction. Look at verse 27. "They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'" They are amazed, they are astonished, they are astounded, because unlike the first century exorcists and their lengthy process, Jesus simply commands and the demons obey. The result of it was that there was this intense, ongoing discussion. They were debating among themselves, and as a result of all that happened that day, verse 28 says, "Immediately the news about Jesus spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee." What a powerful expression of our Lord's authority to act.

The question is why? Why did Jesus cast out this demon? And the bigger question, why did Christ include casting out demons in His earthy ministry? What was the point? This is where the application really comes for us. First of all, because it confirms the truth of Jesus' message. Turn with me to Luke 11, Luke 11:14:

And … [Jesus] was casting out a demon and it was mute; when the demon had gone, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebub" [this is the parallel account to the other I showed you], "the ruler of demons." Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. But He knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So, they will be your judges. [But watch this, verse 20] But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God [that I've been preaching about, that's the core of My message] has come upon you."

Jesus said, "The fact that I am casting out demons" (and He shows them that He's not casting them out by the power of Beelzebub, Satan, as He argues it here) shows that the message of the kingdom that I'm preaching to you is true. I'm bringing a different kingdom, rather than the kingdom that controls this world." Jesus' casting out demons showed the reality and truth of His message. It showed His power, it showed His rule, it showed His kingdom, as opposed to the rule and kingdom of Satan.

Secondly, it affirms Jesus' deity. You remember when we started studying this book, we saw that Mark was the first witness to Jesus' deity. Back in verse 1, he made it clear that Jesus was in fact God. The second witness was the Father at Jesus' baptism when He affirmed the deity of Christ, and Mark wants us to know that even the powerful demonic forces at work in Palestine in the first century grudgingly affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ.

The third great testimony to the deity of Christ comes from a demon, comes from the power of darkness, from one of Jesus' greatest enemies. As D. Edmond Hiebert writes in his commentary, "This unclean spirit was forced to acknowledge Christ's supernatural character as true deity. 'You are the one who has come from heaven, the holy one of God.'"

But I think for me personally, those things are true and rich and encouraging, but the most encouraging in some ways of all is the third. Jesus casts out demons to illustrate something, to picture something. Casting demons out of people who were enslaved, and dominated, and controlled by the spirit of darkness illustrated His power to free people from spiritual slavery. You know what that means? That means there's hope for the worst of us. There is no one beyond the reach of the power of Jesus Christ. Here is a man who is completely and totally enslaved, who is so enslaved his voice can't even be heard. He is absolutely dominated by, forced to do the will of this demon, and yet Jesus intervenes.

It means that the most difficult case you can think of, the hardest heart you can imagine, that person that to you seems beyond the reach of grace, beyond the reach of God, beyond the reach of Christ. That person that seems impenetrable, that seems irredeemable, that seems impossible, that seems to have the hardest heart you know; and interestingly enough, as Kent Hughes observes, "The hardest heart is usually a religious heart." That person may have a will that is absolutely stubborn, and hard, and resistant. That person may have sense of being a child, never given in to anyone, may never have acknowledged anyone else but himself. But there's hope.

You may be that person tonight. You may see yourself in that description. You may think there is no hope for you. Listen, Jesus Christ can free you with a word, just as he freed this man. There's no one beyond His reach, and that's what casting out demons showed. It was a powerful picture of His power to free those who were enslaved to the powers of darkness. That's what He did for us who are here tonight who are believers. He spoke a word. He said, as Paul says in Second Corinthians 4, "Let there be light, and there was light."

Maybe you're here tonight, and you feel enslaved. You feel hopelessly dominated and controlled by the power of darkness. Maybe not a demon, but by your own flesh, your own sin. You've lost hope. Listen, Jesus Christ has authority, and that authority gives Him the authority to free your soul, with a word, to set you free. Remember His message? His message was, "If you'll repent and believe the Gospel, then you can be a part of My kingdom." Tonight, if you're willing to turn from you sin, and embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He will speak that word, and He will free you as He's freed so many others.

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we love Christ. We love Him because of the power that He has; because of the love that He has for us. Father, we thank You that there was a day, in the case of many of us sitting here tonight, when He spoke the Word, and freed us from the slavery in which we were bound. Father, I pray that You would help us to rejoice in that. Help us who know You and love You to be grateful to live our lives in gratitude.

And Father, help us to proclaim the message of Christ to others, knowing that He can free them too – the hardest case, that heart, that person, that we think will never ever come. Father, help us to have the courage to present Christ, who has the authority to act.

Father, I pray for the person here tonight who has heard through this work of Jesus that we've studied tonight, has heard the solution to his or her problems, Father, who feels hopeless, hopelessly bound, hopelessly enslaved. May tonight be the night that they turn to Christ in repentance and faith, and ask Him to speak the Word to free them, to make them new. Father, we pray that for the glory of Jesus Christ who delights in being a Savior.

It's in His name we pray. Amen.

The Memoirs of Peter