Summary: Jesus is Lord of all things, and he wants to include us in his domain.
When I was a child, and we played games at school, there was always someone called ’The Boss.’ Every game needed a boss. The boss’ job was important – he (or she) got to choose which game we’d play, what the rules were, and could decide who could or couldn’t play. It was important to be nice to the boss, because they could stop you from playing the game, and you’d have to find somebody else to play with.
The interesting thing was deciding who would be boss. More often than not it would be whoever wanted to start a particular game. They’d go around the school yard, asking different people if they wanted to come and play. So the boss was usually the person who got the game going.
Sometimes, though, the job would go to someone who had the important piece of equipment. So if you wanted to play cricket, you had to find someone with a cricket bat, and they’d always make it a condition of play that they could be the boss. And you had to oblige. What good is a game of cricket without a bat?
Sometimes there would be a fight over who was boss. It could end in several ways – a fight, or more usually, one of the contenders would walk off and start their own game. It was always a case of who had the authority, and there could only ever be one winner.
This is the same situation here in the Book of Mark. Jesus had come to earth, but Satan wasn’t happy. Jesus had already told Satan that he didn’t want him as boss. Now Jesus starts acting like he’s the boss!
This section of the Book of Mark has three different stories which show how Jesus makes his presence felt. If you have your Bibles, I’d like you to turn to these while I explain what I mean.
First, in 4:35 we see the story of Jesus calming the storm. Jesus and the disciples are in a boat. Jesus is asleep when a storm blows up. The disciples – seasoned fishermen, for the most part – start to panic, because they think they are about to sink. I don’t know about you, but if experienced seafarers start to panic in that situation, I’m pretty sure that I’d be worried too! They wake Jesus up, and he commands the storm to be silent. It is, and we are told that the disciples were amazed, and they asked who it was that could control the weather.
In 5:21 we see another miracle of Jesus. A young girl, whose father is an important member of the local synagogue becomes seriously ill. Jesus is asked to come and heal her. When he arrives, he finds the girl has died. At his command, though, she is revived. Again, the crowd is astonished.
And then there is the story, beginning at 5:1, in which a demon-possessed Gentile is healed from his affliction. We read the same thing at the end – the people are amazed at what had happened.
What do we make of all of this? Jesus calms a storm, and astonishes the disciples. He heals a man suffering intense spiritual attack, and the crowds are amazed. He raises a dead girl back to life, and astonishes more people yet. Do you see a pattern forming?
This was more than just trying to please a crowd, however. In each case Jesus was showing the people not what he could do, but who he was. Jesus had control over the weather. In the time that the New Testament was written, it was generally believed that the weather – especially around large bodies of water – were controlled by the forces of evil. When Jesus calmed the storm, he wasn’t just stopping a severe case of sea-sickness in the disciples. He was telling Satan who’s boss.
When Jesus healed the demon possessed man, he was doing more than just helping out a man who needed his help. He was saying to the demons, ’Look who’s boss now!’
When Jesus raised the girl from the dead, he wasn’t just showing off. Satan’s greatest achievement was bringing death into the world, but even that was nothing to Jesus. In effect, Jesus was putting Satan on notice. In 1:13 Jesus is tempted by Satan, to no avail. In 3:20-30 we see how Jesus responds to the charge that he is in fact an agent of Satan. No, says Jesus. I am destroying Satan’s kingdom. Satan was in charge of the schoolyard here. But look out Satan. There’s a new kid in school.
What does this mean for us?
Let’s briefly look at the most obvious brush with the forces of Satan in the material we’ve looked at – the episode with the man from Gerasa.