Reading for today’s post: Luke 4:31-37
Today we see that Jesus’ ministry is ramping up quite nicely. He called some disciples, preached in the synagogue and traveled about speaking to people. There is definitely a buzz going on. People are beginning to tell others and they people are coming to see Jesus of Nazareth.
What we do see is that he is not yet making great speeches and has not yet spoken the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5 – 7), instead he is meeting physical needs. He is healing the sick and casting demons out. When I worked in a homeless shelter in the 1980’s it was this aspect of Jesus’ ministry that we used as means to reach out to lost people. We met their physical needs first with food, showers, clean clothes, a bed and shelter. The idea is that without addressing the immediate physical needs, it was difficult to help someone focus on spiritual needs.
But what I found interesting in today’s reading is that while Jesus was casting out the demons, he actually had to keep them quiet.
Luke 4:35 (NLT)
35 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.
What did the demon say that caused Jesus to prevent him from saying?
Luke 4:33 – 34 (NLT)
33 Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—began shouting at Jesus, 34 “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!”
In another demon confrontation with Jesus, another demon has something else interesting to say:
Matthew 8:29 (NIV)
29"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
There are a few things the demons try to proclaim:
- Jesus had the power to interfere with spiritual beings.
- Jesus had the power to destroy the demons.
- They knew who Jesus was – The Holy one sent from God.
- They knew that Jesus was the Son of God.
- They knew that there is a time coming when He will torture and destroy them.
Later we learn that Jesus silenced these demons because he had a ministry plan to spend three years with his disciples to prepare and train them. He wanted time for the message of life to sink deep into their lives so that when the storm of his crucifixion comes, they would be able to rebound and continue to carry His message of repentance and salvation.
When I was in college my Bahamian friend Lyall loved to quote verses in a loud booming voice. He especially loved verses that challenged the listener. We would be walking across the campus and he would suddenly turn to me and in a booming voice say “Get behind me Satan” (Matthew 16:23) or “ Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). Not surprisingly my friend Lyall today is the pastor of Grace Community Church, Nassau, Bahamas.
Another verse that always stuck out at me during those times hanging out with Lyall was:
James 2:19 (NIV)
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Demons know God exist, they even know Jesus as the Messiah, the Holy One sent by God and they shudder in fear.