Casting Out an Evil Spirit

Mark 1: 21-28
Heb 2: 5-12 / Psa 8

He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.
(Mark 1: 27)

What evil spirit can withstand
The pow’r of Jesus Christ our Lord?
He will bring peace throughout the land,
Whatever lost will be restored.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28)

Reflection

Jesus made it a point to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach. It was customary for Jews to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath in order to learn about Scriptures and the Torah from the scribes and Pharisees. But Jesus was teaching a new doctrine, and not the ones taught by the scribes, on the authority of their traditional Old Testament laws and customs. Thus, He needed to show His listeners that He taught on His own authority. And what higher authority was there than from One who could cast out evil spirits?

The evil spirit called our Lord “Jesus of Nazareth” for two reasons: to put down the status of Jesus, because the people in Capernaum regarded Nazareth as a backward town of no consequence. But the more important reason was to deceive the Jews into thinking that Jesus could not possibly be the Messiah because the Jews knew from Scriptures that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. And yet, true to the devil’s nature, he fawned on Jesus, calling Him “the Holy One of God” (v.24), fearing for the worst in the presence of the Son. But our Lord would not be distracted by the evil spirit’s tactics, and instead, used the occasion to render His compassion for the man possessed, and at the same time to show that His teaching had basis from a powerful authority.

Reflecting on these, we come to understand why an evil spirit was allowed inside a holy place like the synagogue, and on a holy day (the Sabbath) at that. But how could that demon dare to come up and expose itself before the Son of God? Remember that Satan is known primarily for the sin of pride and hatred for the divine. The demon was taunting Jesus (“Have you come to destroy us?”) because he knew it was not yet their time. But it only succeeded in serving the purposes of our Lord.

Devil possession is real. Man is the battleground and his soul is the booty in the war between good and evil. Thank God evil spirits cannot stand the mere mention of the Name of Jesus. Although they remain proud in their dominion of the world, and even flaunt their power of possession, they have already been defeated by our Lord when He redeemed us on the cross in Calvary. We take comfort in the words of Jesus: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn.16:33). Our best protection against the influence of Satan’s minions is to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit, and proclaim the holy Name of Jesus Christ to drive them away.

We pray for your constant protection, dear God, against the evil one. Make us worthy in the company of Your children, who all share the common aversion to everything that is wrong, immoral, and unjust. We pray for the strength of Your Holy Spirit in times of temptation, and thank You for the lessons taught by our Lord Jesus in the Gospel. Amen.

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