Monday, March 11, 2013

Demons in the Synagogue

Have you ever noticed that the first exorcism that Jesus performed was at a synagogue (Mark 1:21-28)! In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark it says that ‘ there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit’ (Mark 1:23). How can a demon-possessed person survive in a religious place like a synagogue? Another reality that I notice is that nobody did anything with this situation of having a man with evil-spirit in the synagogue! Did he appear so normal that nobody knew he was a demoniac until Jesus drove the evil-spirit from him? Or did they just let him be there being unable to do something about it?
This story tells us something about the nature of possession by evil-spirit. First of all, they may look and behave like normal people. Secondly, don’t expect to find them only in weird places like grave yards, dark gullies of down town areas, or mental asylums. They can look very normal, could be hanging around religious places like churches and Christian fellowships.
There is yet another important aspect in this whole story. The evil-spirit that reveals itself. Nobody probably knew that this man has evil-spirit. Or nobody told Jesus that this man has evil-spirit. Evidently, nobody asked Jesus to get involved. Its all initiated by the evil-spirit itself. When Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, the man with the evil-spirit couldn't stand it anymore and it spoke out revealing itself. It cried out saying: 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.' That is why Jesus had to rebuke and cast out the evil-spirit from that man.
There is yet another unique aspect to this story. That is the evil-spirit manifested itself as Jesus taught or it is the teaching of Jesus that caused the whole episode of casting out the evil-spirit. The people in the synagogue were amazed by the authority of Jesus, they exclaimed that he has authority that is so different from the authority that their scribes had. However, though that was the response of the normal people, the evil-spirit had become so fearful at the authority of Jesus displayed in his teaching. When the man with the evil-spirit heard the powerful teaching of Jesus, it cries out of fear! The evil-spirit immediately realized that their end has come. The evil-spirit knew that the end of the evil has come when it cried out, 'Have you come to destroy us?' They knew the answer to that question is certainly, 'yes!'
The onlookers were surprised indeed. They were curious to know how Jesus would handle the situation; probably his teaching was interrupted by the evil-spirit that cried out in the middle of the sermon he was preaching in the synagogue. Exorcisms were not new to Jews of Jesus' day. There were Jewish exorcists in Jesus’ time as well. These exorcists used various means to drive out demons. Some would use certain prayers or incantations to drive out the demons. Some would use some medical preparations, or stones that have special qualities.
 However, this exorcism was different. Jesus did not use any means or media. He just commanded the evil-spirit to come out and it came out immediately! The words of Jesus alone is sufficient to drive the demon out of that man.
For me, this story is not very much about the evil-spirits though it is centred around a man with evil-spirit. It is about the power of the Word of God. As the Word of God is preached with divine authority, the kingdom of Satan begins to shake. No evil can withstand the power of the the Word of God. The evil one realizes that his end has come! This is an missing dimension in Christendom today. We only tend to identify the influence of the evil-spirit only if it is manifest. However, the Word of God has the power to uncover everything that is not pleasing to God and cleanse every mind of what is not pleasing him. There is a cleansing process that the Word of God can do and all Christians however, normal they feel should be subject to that process of cleansing by the Word of God daily.

Life and Light

'For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light' Psalm 36:9.   When David sang to God, 'For with you ...