Tag Archives: demons

Fighting Demons

A Man with Demons in Him

26 Jesus and his disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. 27 As Jesus was getting out of the boat, he was met by a man from that town. The man had demons in him. He had gone naked for a long time and no longer lived in a house, but in the graveyard.

28 The man saw Jesus and screamed. He knelt down in front of him and shouted, “Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? I beg you not to torture me!” 29 He said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to go out of him.

The man had often been attacked by the demon. And even though he had been bound with chains and leg irons and kept under guard, he smashed whatever bound him. Then the demon would force him out into lonely places.

30 Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?”

He answered, “My name is Lots.” He said this because there were ‘lots’ of demons in him. 31 They begged Jesus not to send them to the deep pit, where they would be punished.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and Jesus let them go. 33 Then the demons left the man and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

34 When the men taking care of the pigs saw this, they ran to spread the news in the town and on the farms. 35 The people went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they also found the man. The demons had gone out of him, and he was sitting there at the feet of Jesus. He had clothes on and was in his right mind. But the people were terrified.

36 Then all who had seen the man healed told about it. 37 Everyone from around Gerasa  begged Jesus to leave, because they were so frightened.

When Jesus got into the boat to start back, 38 the man who had been healed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him off and said, 39 “Go back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you.” The man then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for him.

This man’s life is a mess.  He no longer lives in a house, but roams a graveyard naked.  His life is full of demons.  They wouldn’t leave him alone, and couldn’t be held.  It took him to lonely places.  He was even frightened of being released from all these things that held him back.

Yet when the demons had gone, he was able to sit at Jesus’ feet, perfectly calm and attentive.  Though seeing the power of Jesus terrified his neighbours…

However we might understand these demons today, we are all acutely aware of things in life that have the potential to overwhelm us.  Things that hold us back, won’t allow us any peace and take us to very lonely places.  Things that may have overwhelmed us for years.  But the time comes, when Jesus arrives and wants to lay our demons to rest.

When Jesus comes, do we beg him not to touch us, not to upset the balance of our lives – even if it is awful?  Or do we allow him to take our demons from us, to free us and bring us peace?  However uncomfortable our demons, they are our demons, and we may prefer the familiarity of them than the risk of being left without them.  But that is not the way of freedom and peace.  It may be frightening

Are we willing to stop fighting our demons, and let Jesus bring us peace.  For that is what he longs to do.  He comes not to torture us, but to free us.  Will we let him.

Lord,
I come to you,
just as I am.
With all the things that hold me down,
keep me wandering,
make me lonely.

You know
that sometimes it seems easier,
safer,
to stay as I am,
to hold on to what I know.

But what I need
is release
and in
in and through you.

So I come today,
and ask you to work in me,
that I may be
all that you mean me to be.
Do in me
all that you long to do,
that I may be free,
in and through you

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Out of Your Mind

Have you ever told someone something, and their instant reaction is

You’re out of your mind!

You want to do what? Did you really say that? And they want to change your mind – talk some sense into you.

This seems to be the reaction that Jesus gets:

Jesus and the Ruler of Demons

20Jesus went back home, and once again such a large crowd gathered that there was no chance even to eat. 21When Jesus’ family heard what he was doing, they thought he was crazy and went to get him under control.

22Some teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem and said, “This man is under the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons! He is even forcing out demons with the help of Beelzebul.”

23Jesus told the people to gather around him. Then he spoke to them in riddles and said:

How can Satan force himself out? 24A nation whose people fight each other won’t last very long. 25And a family that fights won’t last long either. 26So if Satan fights against himself, that will be the end of him.

27How can anyone break into the house of a strong man and steal his things, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can take everything.

28I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. 29But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven. That sin will be held against you forever.

30Jesus said this because the people were saying that he had an evil spirit in him.

He is going about his work, doing the new thing that God wants to do – and he is accused of being crazy, out of his mind, having lost the plot – all by his family!   Their reaction is to want to get him under control.  The “experts” come along and confirm their opinion.  They, wrongly, think he is under the power of demons, and treat him accordingly.  Jesus points out to them how ridiculous that would be, as what he has come to do is free people from what ties them, including demons.  That would be nonsensical if he himself was under the control of those demons.

Satan before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto

This is perhaps a tricky passage for us to get our heads around, but it illustrates how easily people misunderstand.

Do people who know that you follow God think you are out of your mind?  Do they try to persuade you that it is all rubbish and you are wasting your time?  Do they try to talk sense into you? Do you feel misunderstood?  There has been so much talk recently about Richard Dawkins, and his ongoing claims that religion is a delusion. It is easy to feel bombarded and undermined in our faith.

Jesus shows emphatically that he is not out of his mind – and neither are you if you follow his ways – you are very much in God’s mind.  Jesus was accused of many things throughout his ministry, and we will be too.  But Jesus has come to break the power of evil (Tom Wright p 26), and we are invited to join him.  Jesus won the battle over evil – and we can share in that too.  People may mock and sneer – indeed they probably will.  They may want to talk you out of it, and release you from what has “got into you”.  That will be very hard, very hurtful, very tempting to follow – but we can lean on Jesus, who has won that battle.

Part of Jesus’ temptation battle was with the demons – the powers that threaten to hold and tempt us away, but Jesus shows us the one true way – and we can trust him – whatever others may try to shout at us.

One of the opportunities of Lent, as we take time out to reflect on our journey with Jesus, is to know where we are with him, to reinforce what we believe, and to be clear of the ground we are standing on.  Then that may give us confidence when others try to get us under control.  It may be a struggle, but Jesus knows that torment – and struggles with us.

Tom’s prayer for today (p 26):

Teach us, Lord Jesus,

not to fear the accusations of the enemy,

but to trust in your victory

at all times.

 

This year, I am again following the Big Read using Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone – Mark.  I’ll reflect here – if you’re following it too, or even if you’re not, please share with me.