And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “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.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Mark 1:21-27
“…there are other worlds than these,” from the Stephen King novel The Gunslinger.
The second quote is an unusual way to start a devotional, but it says much in light of today’s passage. In truth, there is another world existing within the one we see every day. The Bible speaks of it often. Jesus Himself must deal with its “residents” often in His ministry. The Gospels tells of Him casting out spirits from people who seem to be insane or very ill. Sometimes, there is a conversation. The spirits ask Jesus what He wants from them, beg Him to leave them alone. In one case they ask permission to enter a herd of pigs (Mathew 8:28-34). These “unclean spirits” know who Jesus is, and are afraid of Him.
Jesus never shows fear, only authority. He says “be gone” and they are gone.
In our world, we devour movies and books that aim to frighten, like self-contained amusement park rides. Demons, another name for the spirits of the passage, are portrayed as all-powerful entities, monsters devouring the innocent and unstoppable forces of evil. They are evil, thriving on hate, the antithesis of God who is the epitome of love, but they are not all-powerful. They have no power over Jesus, whose Spirit and Word drives then away, cowering in fear. Should we, as “mere mortals,” be afraid of such forces? Not if we have Jesus’ Spirit in us. Like the Israelites in the Old Testament, we are God’s chosen. There is a force, an army if you will, trying to bring us down and destroy our relationship with God. To win any battle we must know our enemy. Pretending it doesn’t exist is akin to living in fear.
Many Christians are not comfortable with this aspect of our faith. We believe in God, in His love and grace, have given our lives to Jesus and rejoice in our relationship with Him; but we must remember there is an Adversary who wants to keep us from the life our Father desires for us. This enemy fears and, yes, hates God. Unlike characters in books or movies, we should not fear them but stand upright in confidence that the name of Jesus, spoken confidently with the power it represents, is enough to cast these demons away. Against the name of Jesus, they have no power over us.
Be strong in faith, and do not fear the world we do not see. Jesus conquered it with his death and resurrection, and we share that victory every moment of our lives. We have won, because He has won.
Father, thank you for defeating death and the evil influences hiding in the world. Give us courage and strength to stand against evil in Your holy name. Amen.