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.”
Authority of Jesus
Fictional stories of demon possession tend to be all about the drama, the suspense, the terror. When people watch a horror movie, they expect to be horrified. In today’s reading, we hear about a real case of demon possession, but only so that we may learn what Jesus does about it.
There is no real suspense here. Jesus simply speaks: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” That’s all it takes. The evil spirit must obey. The witnesses are understandably amazed by the exorcism, but what amazes them even more is the authority behind Jesus’ words. Only God himself can speak with such effect.
Jesus still speaks with divine authority. He speaks on the pages of Scripture, where we are told, “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). By his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, that’s just what Jesus has done.
The devil is always tempting us to turn away from God and his saving Word. We must confess that we’ve succumbed. We haven’t been so amazed by the teachings of Jesus as we should be. We haven’t loved God’s Word with all our heart. But Jesus has taken away our sins. And we don’t have to wonder whether or not Jesus can help us in our struggles. He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.
Lord Jesus, when I am struggling with guilt and fighting temptation, draw me closer to your Word. Be my shield and my strength, now and always. Amen.
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