Jesus & The Demon Possessed

Key Text: Mark 1:21-39 & Luke 4:33-41


A man who was in the synagogue and who had an “unclean” spirit cried out loudly, confessing/declaring Jesus to be the Hoy One of God. Stating that evil spirits and unclean demons were disassociated with Christ. Asking if Jesus were then and there going to destroy/torture the demon before the expected time, ref. Mt. 8:29.What about demon possession? Demon possession does not appear to be identical to any disease known to medical science. Some of the symptoms produced involved seizures, blindness, loss of speech and deafness. Jesus addressed demons as distinct from the person possessed. Has demon possession ceased or is it present in our time, but now unrecognized? The New Testament leaves the possibility wide open. Consider the following which happened after the resurrection of Christ…

Acts 16:16-18, “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.  She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved. She kept this up for many days.  Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her! At that moment the spirit left her.”

The Pharisees claimed Jesus and demons were in league with each other. Mark 3:11, Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” Mark 3:22. But the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is obsessed by Beelzebub!  By the prince of demons he is driving out demons. The devil used every possible weapon in his arsenal against Jesus including his demonic angels. The demons are limited! Matthew 8:29, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted.  “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” James 2:9, You believe that there is one God, Good!  Even the demons believe that- and shudder.

            Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man and not to speak.  The demon did not say another understandable word. The demon cried aloud, uttered a loud wail, shaking the man, and came out. The synagogue audience was greatly impressed/amazed by what they had seen! They were puzzled by what they had seen. They recognized that Jesus was a teacher of new things. They saw that Jesus had great authority which extended even to the spirit world.. The news of this great revolutionary Teacher quickly spread throughout
Galilee by word, person to person.

New Testament demonology differs from other ideas by its negation of the power of magic rites to deliver people from the possession. Magic which is clearly separable from Christ’s faith at the specific point of exorcism.  Ancient Babylonian incantation texts, forming a surprisingly large proportion of the extant documents, address the supposed activities and powers of demons. These beings, who are not trusted and prayed to in the sense in which deities are, command confidence and call for prayer and are dealt with by magic rites and formulas. Even the Jewish non-canonical writings contain numerous forms of words and ceremonies for the expulsion of demons. But in the New Testament there is no magic. The deliverance from a demon is a spiritual and ethical process of Christ. Are you in Christ? This is why it was important to Jesus for his followers to be in God’s Kingdom, which he and John were proclaiming.

Nazareth’s Rejection of Jesus

Jesus was rejected by the Jews of his hometown twice, once at the beginning of the Galilean ministry (Luke 4:16-31a) and once at the end of the Galilean Ministry (Matthew 13:54ff). Jesus gave even those who tried to kill him a second chance. It was the custom of Jesus to regularly attend synagogue worship and to participate in a public way in the services. According to Jewish obligatory customs, those reading in synagogue worship from the law and the prophets were required to stand while reading.

v16-20, Jesus unrolled the scroll which was like scrolls in Jewish synagogues today, Reading from Isaiah 61:1ff.  The Messiah would have the Spirit of God upon him, He would…

…be anointed to preach good tidings to the poor,

…proclaim release to the captives, 2 Timothy 2:26, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

…proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.  John 9:39, Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will  see and those who see will become blind”,

…set at liberty those who are bruised and proclaim the acceptable year of God.

Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the attendant, sat down to teach as was the custom of that time, and had all the eyes in the synagogue glued on him. This indicated interest in what was read and the loving way in which Jesus had read the passage.

v21-24 Here Jesus declared that he was the fulfillment of this prophecy, the long awaited Messiah. The initial reaction to Jesus’ presentation was favorable. Jesus was a godly orator of scripture.  His speech is here called “words of grace.” They were amazed that a carpenter’s son who had grown up among them could speak in such a confident & educated way. They knew Joseph who may have still been living. Jesus anticipated the objections of the people of his hometown and that his listeners would want a duplication of the miracles performed in Capernaum.  Matthew 11:23, And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies?  No, you will go down to the depths.  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. Jesus said no prophet has honor in his hometown and that miraculous performances would not change this. The people must have begun to murmur while Jesus was speaking. This same type of objection continued even to the cross.  “Physician, heal thyself…”  “He saved others; himself he cannot save.”  (Matthew 27:42) The Nazarenes may have been jealous that Jesus had performed miracles in Capernaum instead of in his home town, Nazareth.

v25-28, see 1Kings 17-18, Compare  James 5:17,  Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. A Gentile widow, a Sidonian, was the one to whom Elijah was sent, not to Jewish widows. The Jews of that day were filled with unbelief.  Elijah went to a person with an open mind. So it was with Jesus who worked miracles in Capernaum rather than Nazareth. Many lepers were suffering in the days of Elisha, but he only healed Naaman the Syrian, a Gentile, see 2 Kings 5:1-14. The prophet then as Jesus in his day performed miracles among people of faith, Jew or Gentile. These illustrations aroused prejudice against Jesus from the Jews.

v29-30, These “religious leaders” of Jesus’ hometown attempted to murder him without a trial. Unbridled anger is a terrible thing & seen elsewhere, John 8:59, At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. John 10:21. But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon.  Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”  Accept Jesus & follow Him because  we don’t want to be like those who rejected Him and left. He loves His enemies, do we?

Jesus & The Nobleman

Key Text: Jn. 4:43-54

John the Immersionist has been imprisoned by King Herod Antipas and Jesus reiterates His message about repentance and the nearness of God’s Kingdom. Mk 1:14. He is back in Cana and from 18 miles away in Capernaum a nobleman (a royal courtier) searched for Jesus, desperate for help with his dying son. The mother might have been Joanna (Herod Antipas’ servant Lk. 8:3) if this is true, then the Nobleman’s name is Chuza. This is probably the first indirect connection Herod Antipas has with Jesus. But even with John imprisoned, the nobleman is eager to find Jesus whom John has been preaching about. Remember the last Biblical note of the Herodian Family was at Jerusalem during the slaughter of the innocent baby boys. That was Herod, the Great. The Father of this Herod Antipas which imprisoned John the Immersionist.

Jesus was on the brink of mass popularity now, v45, and the news of his purge of the Temple has spread quickly, far and wide. The Galileans rejoiced in and received Jesus because finally they knew someone with miraculous power had started their leaders in Jerusalem to think about a change! Quite a few Samaritans had already rumored Jesus was the Messiah, now the Galileans are getting excited about the real possibility.

The expression of discontentment from Jesus in v48 is a warning to everyone in a position of power, to never base their faith in Jesus simply because He can wield physical power through miracles. Today, our common power in the world is money. To apply this truth of Jesus to our lifestyle, is to pray for wisdom to use the money we have, not to pray for more of it! See 1st Tim. 6:10 & Jas. 4:3-4. This means God is not an emergency button for relief in a crisis, neither is he a test button to see if he will help and give us  evidence for our faith to exist.  Jesus wants our faith to be in His words and character. There is a big difference between believing in the man and believing in his credentials, Jn. 6:11-29 & 10:37 39.  The credentials point to the  character, God wants our faith to be in Jesus as the God-Man of Forgiveness and God’s Ruling Word & Will, not the Miracle-worker of mere compassion or special favors for people of notoriety. 

Truly the  nobleman’s faith was in what Jesus said, which was an object lesson for all those around, he didn’t have to see anything, v50.  Will we let what Jesus says be true and live like God will keep every promise in His word?  Do we really believe that he is gone to prepare  a place for each of us forever in eternal bliss?  Jn 14:1 3.  Abram believed and at the point of belief, which was expressed by obedience, he was given God’s righteousness, Gen. 15:7, 22:18. The Nobleman’s faith grew from his expression of trust in the mere words of Jesus. The journey back to a sick son, affected his household, see v47-50. In the same way the Samaritan Woman’s expression of trust in the words of Jesus bore faith in the villagers of Sychar. Does our expression of trust in the words of Jesus reproduce faith in our family and friends?

The second sign was that it pointed people to faith in the words of Jesus. His words and nature were limitless and overcame sickness alleviating the fear of our biggest enemy, death! The 1st sign spoke of God’s power in Jesus over creation, speeding up nature’s time in growth of the water into juice. Now this 2nd sign speaks of God’s power over the human problem of illness, speeding up nature’s time in healing. This put the character of Jesus as a man who keeps his word against all odds. Do we live like Jesus means what He says to us? His miracles confirmed His word, will & identity, not vice-versa! Mk. 16:20.

Jesus & The Samaritan Woman

Key Text: John 4:4-42.

Jesus was human and weary from a long day of traveling and teaching with his disciples. This shows us that we should not neglect our physical needs in spiritual service.  Jacob’s Well can be seen today, many tourists have commented on how it is has been neglected over the centuries, but recently it has been enclosed for protection. In the 3rd century, the mother of Constantine financed a chapel to be built over it, but in the 1100s, it was destroyed by Muslims. It is amazing that such a landmark documented as the place  where Jesus proclaimed His Messiahship, is not the center of money-making souvenirs. Do you believe God may be maintaining it’s humble estate to ensure we get the message of His Messiahship being divine Servanthood in supplying spiritual water? Paul proclaimed that everyone that becomes a Christian, is made to drink of the Spirit, 1Cor. 12:12-13 & Jon. 4:4-6. We can not live by bread alone, Mt. 4:4.

Jesus asking a Samaritan woman for a drink is almost shocking, since there was a social barrier between them that was about 600 years old. Stemming from when the Jews had denied the Samaritan’s any share in helping to re-build the Temple in Jerusalem during Ezra’s day. In 128BC, the Jews had destroyed the new Temple of the Samaritans in Gerizim.  Speaking while alone in a public place with each other, is not what they were accustomed to within or across the sexes. Christians should imitate Jesus in ignoring racial/gender barriers, for one reason, expressing our faith in God’s gift and sharing it! 4:10. It is God’s will and our duty to give thanks always in every situation, 1Ths. 5.17. Why? Because God gives Himself freely as water from the well, and so should we!

The well water of Jesus which turns into a fountain (v13-14) for eternity is experienced only by the Christian who grows in discipleship, because the refreshment that comes from this water is like fruit that takes time to grow. Indeed, the fruit of the Holy Spirit takes time to grow in changing our human love into God’s love, and every human affection & virtue mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23, is gradually nurtured into a divine attribute from the heart of God into our own. John later proclaims twice in the Revelation 7:17 & 21:6 that God still does give to all believers an eternal fountain of refreshing water. What exactly is it? What did the woman need most? Forgiveness and a relationship with her Father, not another husband! Her true Father in Jesus would be to her a God that was free of space & time and not to be localized in Temples, (Ac. 7:48). She was learning that just as physical excellence raises humans above beasts, that spiritual excellence raises God above humanity. The gracious and miraculous insight Jesus rendered upon her heart was proof that God’s power was gracious and forgiving, this was her first taste of the water of life!

When we taste of this water, especially when we are made to drink of it (1Cor. 12:12-13), it should motivate us, like the Samaritan Woman. God desires and looks for people who will love (worship) Him in spirit & truth. This means to daily, show our thankfulness in service and praise, genuinely from our heart.  To have an affinity with God in our praise. This text is not a proof-text for biblical public worship being scriptural, rather, it should be esteemed in our heart as a goal for serving Him daily. His word is truth, and instructs us in our motive for worship, not necessarily our every step in methods of worship, v24.

The first recorded proclamation Jesus made of His Messiahship is to a woman, v26. Why? Because the Samaritans would not be likely to take him by force and make him a King, (Jn. 6:15). Even to His disciple Peter who would become the leader of the apostles, He waits much later to proclaim His Messiahship to him, Mt. 16:16.

Jesus & Nicodemus

Key Text: John 3:1-21.

Nicodemus,  was a ‘Chakham’ in Hebrew to the Jews and an official Rabbinic Pharisee to the Romans in the Temple, v1,10, 7:50, 19:39. His work is to give physical application to spiritual law from Moses, other Jews did the  same, (Jn 2:20). But Nicodemus grew to believe and obey God’s law from Jesus. He can teach us how to approach the religious who do not see their need for cleansing as a pagan would understand it.  From  the first purge of the Temple a feud was developing between Jesus and the  Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was a member and was breaking large barriers to meet and  question him.  He was exposed to plain truths with no compromise from Jesus.  The Talmud mentions a Nakedimon as one of the disciples of Jesus and as one of the three richest Jews when Titus beseiged Jerusalem in 67-68, his family was reduced to severe poverty.  We are not sure this is the same Nicodemus, but it might have been, in view of  Jn.19:39.

When Jesus had the attention of the religious, he spoke in words which only the truly interested would want clarified.  Jesus used generalisations, v3.  All generalisations can be misunderstood, but they serve as “eye-brow lifters”, and defines who exactly is interested and who is not.   See 1st John 3:9-10 for another “generalisation”.

Nicodemus was not asking about salvation or the Kingdom of God, he was making a statement about the origins and authority of Jesus.  Could he be wanting Jesus to confirm it?   Jesus went straight to the most important point, salvation, v5, being born again.  Jesus could perceive exactly what a person was thinking and we can safely assume that Jesus did read the mind of Nicodemus and addressed the issue that Nicodemus was really concerned about.  We may not be able to read people’s minds but we can read their face, lifestyle and words, we should address what we believe they are really concerned about.  See Paul in the Areopagus, addressing them about the “unknown god”, it was something the people were concerned about and God has something to say about our concerns, Acts 19:22-23, 34. Anything from the “wind” to an “idol” can be linked with the manifold wisdom of God, it is our job to make it manifest, Eph. 3:8-13.

Jesus taught on being born again during spring (passover time), the  seasonal winds would be strong at this time of year serving as a good illustration of  being born of the Spirit. His emphasis on being newly born again pointed us towards being in a new state.  Nicodemus first understood this to be impossible, but later realized that with God, all things are possible.  Notice how water and Spirit are enjoined Tit 3:5, Mt 28:19 & 1st John 5:8.  The only difficulty in understanding  what baptism is, is that it excludes the unimmersed  adult from the Kingdom.  The birth is known both as spiritual (Spirit) and physical (water) which has a radical eternal result, with no optional results.  Even in the old law the  heart was to be circumcised, Dt 10:16, Jer 4:4, defining a spiritual change. In the new law Jesus was establishing, we find circumcision to have an analogy in baptism, Col. 2:11-12. Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know God’s Spirit is active in baptism.

The implications of our new birth demands we live more spiritually after being re-born, Rm 12:1 2.  God demands we actively trust Him to take  away the bad and replace it with good. If we believe He can do it, we will prayerfully ask Him. God is a gentleman, He will not force us to accept what we don’t really want. Being born again is a phrase which may be misunderstood by religious people today, but we should not refrain from using it, because it is the way Jesus explained our access into His Kingdom.  Baptism is the God appointed place to be born again, Ac 2:38, 22:16 & 1st Peter 3:21.