On Your Mark
He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with
me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”
For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” Then Jesus
asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are
many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them
out of the area. (Mark 5:7-10, NIV)
What makes you afraid?
I can tell you what scares the devil — Jesus. Hell’s
dominions panic in the presence of the Lord. You see it here.
The first words Jesus speaks to Legion form a command, “Come
out.” The demons know they have to obey His authority. Their fear is that
torture waits if they obey.
Many write off demon possession as an antiquated notion, and
a misdiagnosis for schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. The Great Physician
knew the difference. The problem with the Gerasene man lay not within his own
mind; rather evil spirits from the outside had gotten inside him. A physician
must make an accurate diagnosis if there is to be a remedy. Jesus knew exactly
This man had knowledge of Jesus’ identity. Thus far, in
Jesus’ ministry, no one except demons knew who He was. A mentally disturbed
person wouldn’t know that.
Jesus does not negotiate by telling the spirits to settle
down and let the man live a normal life. Nor does Jesus treat the evil spirits
like petulant teenagers: “Now, I’ll give you an hour to clean up your act.”
The order is, “Out! Now!” There is no compromise in dealing
with evil spirits. Eviction is the only cure.
It’s the same way in the later instruction from James:
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Don’t equivocate
with the devil or listen to his lie that you cannot take authority over him.
Jesus doesn’t get into a discussion with the evil spirits.
He doesn’t ask for details about where they came from, how they got into the
man, what other special knowledge they may have, nor any past encounter He may
have had with the devil and his minions before the earth was formed. Jesus’
focus is on the practical, not the mystical.
There’s only one thing that needs to be known: Jesus has
power over evil. Period.
These demons totally destroyed the quality of life this man
could have enjoyed. That’s the devil’s business. He comes like a thief to
steal, kill and destroy — but Jesus has come that we might have life, and
have it to the full (John 10:10).
Clearly the demons fear Jesus since they don’t want to be
tortured, and they fear the unknown since they don’t want to be sent out of the
area. Evidently demons don’t have much room to roam. Their fear of dislocation
is so great the speaking demon begs “again and again” (Mark 5:10).
The reluctance of demons to go outside their area is in
direct contrast to the end of Mark’s Gospel when Jesus tells His disciples to
“go into all the world.” Part of that worldwide mission involves driving out
demons (Mark 16:15-18).
The contrast is striking. Demons stay in localized areas
while Christ’s disciples have traveled the world with the gospel. Followers of
Jesus are willing to go outside their comfort zones to share with others the
good news about Jesus — that He is the Son of God, our Savior.
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, today take authority over everything in my life
that tends toward evil rather than good. Help me in dealing with temptation and
evil. Send me away from my own comfort zones, and let me not be afraid to go
wherever You might send me.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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