To most 21st century Canadians the supernatural is something we want confined to our television screens and consumed from the comfort of our family room sofa. That is to say we do not associate demonic activity with the ‘real world’, in spite of our fascination with it in the cinematic universe. Even Christians who acknowledge the authority of Scripture, and the presence of demons on its pages, frequently limit such things to the experience of missionaries amongst pagan cultures. Yet many of the bible’s writers, and most importantly Jesus himself, affirm the reality of “spiritual warfare”; thus, it is important for us to understand our place and responsibilities in these matters. This is a large, complex topic that in no way can be covered in a few short devotionals. We will focus on the critical theme of authority this week, but on Friday I plan to suggest a few good resources if you wish to study more broadly and deeply.
Something to See
The encounter described in Mark 5:1-20 between Jesus and the Gerasenes demoniac gives a crystal clear perspective on Christ’s authority. Don’t forget that the last event of chapter four, Jesus’ calming of storm and sea, left the disciples saying, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” He now confronts a man who, “night and day” tormented those of the region and regularly self-harmed. His strength was super-human: “no one had the strength to subdue him” nor could they “bind him anymore”. He “wrenched chains apart” and “broke shackles in pieces”. Yet this otherworldly strongman saw Jesus from afar, ran toward him, “and fell down before him.” Throughout the passage the truth that Jesus is in control continues to be established by Mark. The one whom no one else could subdue falls at the feet of Jesus, begs for mercy, and seeks the permission of the greatest authority – the Christ!
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)