POWER OVER ALL EVIL
Lord, Your people marvel at Your limitless power over evil.
Read LUKE 4:31–37
Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit
31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! 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!”
35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, / Jesus, I come! Jesus, I come! / Into thy freedom, gladness and light, / Jesus, I come to thee” (William T. Sleeper, 1819–1904).
Jesus has declared that he has come to free the prisoners and deliver the oppressed (Luke 4:18). He clearly does not mean this literally. He has released no prisoners—indeed to follow him would often mean becoming a prisoner oneself. He has freed no one from governmental oppression. He is not the kind of Messiah the Jews are expecting: one liberating them from Roman oppression. Jesus is referring to spiritual oppression. Jesus understands that his task, foretold by Isaiah, is to deliver people from bondage to evil forces. With the beneﬁt of hindsight and the experience of the early church, Luke understands this. To make his point, he places this
healing of a demon-possessed man immediately after the account of Jesus reading the Isaiah passage in Nazareth.
In Jesus’ time, people attributed to evil spirits any condition which seemed to possess and take control of a person’s mind and will (cf. Mark 9:17,18). Encountering such terrible disorders today, we would understand some of them to be controllable by medication—epilepsy, for example. On the other hand, we recognize the existence of great evil in the world, evil greater than ourselves, evil controlling powerful organizations and individuals. It is signiﬁcant, however, that the evil mind of those in authority who will condemn and execute Jesus is never described as demon-possession—only the suffering of poor, helpless human beings like the man in verses 33–35, desperately seeking the only sacred place where he could hope to ﬁnd release.
The focus here is not what kind of evil holds this man in its grip but Jesus’ authority over evil of every kind. Whatever the evil, however that evil is described or understood, Jesus has power over it. This is obvious to those in the synagogue at Capernaum. It will seem less obvious at Calvary, but the empty tomb will announce the ultimate defeat of all evil.
“See the hosts of evil ‘round us / scorn your Christ, assail his ways… Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, / for the living of these days” (Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1878–1969).
Lord, we are so grateful that You care for each and every one of us as individuals and that Your grace is available to one and all.
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