The devil

Perspectives (Mark 5:1-20)

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Let’s consider this account of Jesus and the demonised man from a number of perspectives.

Townspeople: Imagine the combination of feelings from the towns people…  This man was wild, uncontrollable, strong, scary.  They used to be able to keep him locked up with ropes,  then when he kept breaking those they tried chains (vs4), but eventually even those failed to restrain him.  So he roamed the outskirts of the town amongst the tombs, crying out, terrifying people.

The demonised man: What did he feel?  Tormented from inside, not in total control of his outbursts, under the influence of not one but many demons (vs9).  Although nothing physical could hold him, he was nonetheless gripped with fear and anger and shame, ostracised and unloved.  Where were his parents?  His family?

Jesus: Jesus has been busy.  Healing, delivering crowds from their sickness and all forms of oppression, teaching parables about the kingdom challenging mindsets and preparing the ground for the gospel.  So tired he fell asleep in the midst of the storm while on the lake (Mark 4:35-41).  Arriving on the shore, Jesus is met by this man (who must have looked unkept at best, wild or even unclothed even maybe) who comes running and throws himself down before Jesus.  Jesus is discerning, he knows what’s in play here this man is not free, this man is being traumatised, humiliated by demonic influence.

The Disciples: They’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions from the highs of seeing multitudes set free from oppression and healed, hearing perplexing yet mysteriously uplifting parables, afraid for their lives because of a storm & then in reverential awe at Jesus the one who just spoke and waves and wind obeyed Him!  Maybe this guy’s reputation had preceded him, maybe they fear again as this man comes running to them…

‘Legion’: Terrified!  Trembling, this is going to be a bad day!  The King of kings has landed on their shore and they know who He is, they are in no doubt of His ultimate authority.  “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (vs7)

The demonised man: Did he feel hope?  Did he often fight his own body and what the demons made him do?  This time, did he feel hope as he found himself running to Jesus?  Had he heard about Jesus, was he crying out inside yet his voice silent to those watching him?  Scripture doesn’t say, but when Jesus began to engage the demons controlling and robbing his life – I believe suddenly he must have felt hope for the first time in a long time!  Can Jesus help me, is this going to be the best day of my life?

The Disciples: What’s going on here?  Who’s talking to Jesus, begging him?  Who is Legion?  How do they know Jesus is God, we’re just starting to get that!

‘Legion’: In the presence of the Almighty one, this group of demons who had seemingly had so much control and power, had none at all.  They are pleading with Jesus the King of kings; ‘send us to the pigs…’ (vs12)

The herdsmen/farmer & townspeople: That day, one man’s freedom was more important to Jesus than 2000 pigs owned by someone else.  What a statement about the value to Jesus of the man who had been seen as having no value by the town he came from.  Was this action of Jesus’ a judgment on the town for the way that they had treated the man?  Strangely, they beg Jesus to leave them (vs17).  Did he rebuke them?

The redeemed man: What an incredible instant transformation!  From raving mad-man, scary and uncontrollable to ‘sitting there, clothed and in his right mind’ (vs15).  He tries to join Jesus, stay longer with Him, Jesus days ‘no’ but rather commissions him to share the good news of his transformation through his encounter with the Messiah.  And so he does, and he comes probably one of the greatest evangelists in the New Testament spreading the good news with the 10 cities in that region to the amazement of everyone (vs20).  #grateful

The disciples: “Note to self…” at this point in Mark’s Gospel

  • Jesus really has authority over sin & forgiveness (Mark 2)
  • Jesus really has authority over sickness
  • Jesus really has authority over the waves and wind
  • Jesus really has authority over all demonic influence whether it’s mild (Mark 2) to massive (Mark 5)
  • Jesus is really God!?

What’s happening in your life right now?

Have you considered not just yours but some of the other perspectives especially God’s?  How could that change things?

How does knowing Jesus’ authority over all things impact your perspective?

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Real Authority (Mark 1:16-45)

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Jesus announced; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)  But what is the ‘kingdom’, what did Jesus mean when He said that?

Mark 1:16-45 and the rest of the Gospel will show what Jesus meant.  The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God (Jesus) over all things.  Just like a king on this earth has authority over the domain of his kingdom, Jesus as King and kings has rule and dominion over all things everywhere.

Here in these verses we see Jesus’ authority four distinct ways;

  1. Jesus’ authority over people’s lives & their destinies (1:16-20)

The still relatively unknown Jesus meets Simon & Andrew, James & John by the lakeside and simply calls them to follow Him and they do!  They leave their livelihood, leave their father and join Jesus on a journey into the unknown trusting Him.  Jesus ‘knows the plans he has for us…’, when we respond to His call on our lives, we choose to trust Him, His goodness and His authority.

  1. Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm (1:21-28 &34&39)

Jesus starts to teach in the synagogue and all of a sudden the demonic influence in a man starts making a scene at the prospect of King Jesus being in the room.  After a very short rebuke to be silent, Jesus commands the demons to leave the man alone and they have to, he is freed!  No power struggle at all, just a simple authoritative command from the King.

  1. Jesus’ authority over sickness (1:29-34)

Jesus arrives in the home of Simon & Andrew, their mother-in-law is ill, Jesus doesn’t even pray for her, no drama, just authority as He took her by the hand and the fever left her.  Word gets out and “all who were sick and oppressed by demons” (vs32) get brought so that it felt like the whole city was at the door of the house and Jesus heals & delivers ‘many’ from all sorts of various diseases.  Whatever it was, Jesus’ authority over it was demonstrated in that moment.

  1. Jesus’ authority through his teaching (1:22&27&39)

Jesus was different, when He taught, they marvelled at His authority, when He commanded demons to be silent or to leave a person alone – they had to do so.  Just as an earthly king has authority within the realm of his kingdom, so too Jesus has authority over His entire realm, which is the entire universe, so His words are all powerful & have all authority.

Lastly, an outcast, a Leper comes to Jesus imploring Him; “If you will, you can make me clean” (vs40) to which Jesus moved with pity for the man replies; “I will, be clean.” (vs41)  Although Jesus is the ultimate authority in the universe, He is not aloof in the least, but left heaven to enter our humanity, stops for the outcast and is moved in His heart for this man.  What a King Jesus is!  What authority, what love!

Contemplate:  How is Jesus’ authority & His love connected to our prayers?Pray:  Is there anything, I mean anything you need to ask King Jesus for…ask Him. 

No new tricks

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 I often say to people I am walking with in this journey of following Jesus; “the devil doesn’t have any new tricks, because the old ones are still working!”

In Genesis 3 we read of that fateful day when Eve was tempted and ended up sinning with Adam and the whole course of human history was altered.  And in the Scripture’s account of that moment we can see the strategy of the devil, how he drew her off God’s good plan for her life and into his.  He has no new tricks so considering the old ones will help us avoid the same mistakes. I see five strategies in Genesis 3:1-6 from our enemy, may considering them make us more alert to them and enable us to take counter measures.

1) The devil plants seeds of unbelief & doubt (vs1)

We know from verse 2-3 that Eve’s problem was not a lack of knowledge regarding what God had said, her problem was not a lack of understanding.  Her problem started with the seeds of doubt, the questions that had been sown by the devil.  He posed questions about what God had actually said and calling into question God and God’s integrity; “God told you that!”

2) The devil lies and contradicts God’s word to us (vs4)

The devil is the deceiver (Revelation 12:9) and one of his main weapons is lies, misinformation that contradicts God’s words to us.  The devil deceived Eve by sowing thoughts contrary to what God had said.

3) The devil lies about God (vs5)

The devil is also known in Scripture as the accuser.  So he lies and calls into question God’s motives and integrity (vs5).  Is God really good and loving, are His commands for us good or restrictive and bad?

4) The devil makes false promises (vs5)

He makes false promises about being able to be like God or to know what God knows, to possess knowledge equal to God’s, even to usurp God and His rightful place in our lives (vs5).

5) He awakens ungodly desires (vs6)

The Genesis 2 picture depicts Adam and Eve as happy, content in the Garden of Eden, content in each other and in relationship with God – with God as loving and involved Creator and them as happy beings created by God.  Yet in vs5 the devil proposes an idea, a desire that must have never previously existed; ‘you can be like God, you can throw off your dependence on God, and be self-determining’!  That’s an ungodly desire, that’s the essence of sin, to replace God with ourselves, His desires with our desires.

In addition to that in vs6 we read that Eve desired the tree now in a way that she hadn’t desired it previously.  The tree held an appeal to her ‘it was a delight to her eyes’ and now ‘the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit’.

Eve didn’t desire this tree or its fruit previously, she might have been curious about it or appreciative of its beauty but now she desired it for what it would give her…

May your consideration today of these very old tricks help guard you and keep you from the enemies deception which is designed to rob from you and destroy your faith and ultimately your life.

By Gareth Bowley