What About All Those Demons?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Amazed, the people exclaimed, "What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!"
As we read through the New Testament Gospels, many of us become perplexed by the persistent presence of evil spirits. We rejoice over the healings of Jesus and are challenged by his preaching of the kingdom of God. But, we find ourselves asking: What about all those demons? How are we to understand the stories of Jesus casting out demons? What difference do they make to us?
Perplexity about demons is common among Christians who live in the United States and Western Europe. But if you've ever talked with a Christian from the Southern Hemisphere or visited there, you have been surprised to learn that, for many Christians, the reality of the demonic is a fairly ordinary, though unpleasant, part of life. They see and experience the world in a way that fits with the Gospel's understanding of the presence of evil, including evil spirits, in our lives. I have certainly been challenged, both by the Gospels and by the testimony of Christians from other cultures, to rethink my assumptions about reality. Perhaps there is much more "out there" than my materialistic worldview assumes.
Of course this can be unsettling, not only intellectually, but also emotionally. The thought that evil might actually be active in our world is not a comforting one. Should we live in fear of the power of darkness? No! The point of Luke 4:31-37 is not that demons are scary and dangerous, but that they are utterly subject to the authority of Jesus. In just a few simple words, Jesus commands the evil spirit that had possessed a man to be quiet and come out. And that's exactly what the spirit did, immediately. Thus the people were amazed, saying, "What authority and power this man's words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!" (4:36).
As I read this story from Luke, I am reassured by the authority of Jesus. He is sovereign over all things, things seen and unseen. In him, you and I are able "to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil," including "the evil spirits in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:11-12). This means that I do not have to be afraid of evil, no matter which forms it might take. Christ is the victor!
Luke 4:31-37 also challenges me to consider my own response to the words of Jesus. Do I simply stand back and marvel at his authority? Or do I let his words have authority over my life?
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you make sense of the passages in the Gospels that describe Jesus' interaction with demons? How do you respond personally to the authoritative teaching of Jesus?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, how thankful I am for your power and authority. In you, I have nothing to fear. You give me security, confidence, and boldness in the face of evil.
Help me, Lord, not only to rejoice in your authority, but also to submit to it. May I take your words seriously, allowing them to instruct, encourage, and challenge me. I ask that your words chase away the evil in my life, replacing it with your goodness and grace.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus. Amen.