Summary: Jesus inevitably changes their lives, forever, fully aware of the unseen spiritual forces that surround him. Our Scripture today is perhaps Jesus most profound and powerful encounter yet, delivering a man possed by a demon.
Angels & Demons: possessed
The Gospel of Mark portrays Jesus doing ministry at an intense pace with powerful results: healing the sick, empowering the lame to walk, and raising the dead to life. Wherever he goes, Jesus inevitably changes their lives, forever, fully aware of the unseen spiritual forces that surround him. Our Scripture today is perhaps Jesus most profound and powerful encounter yet, delivering a man possed by a demon. The story unfolds as Jesus takes the boat carrying himself and the disciples after surviving the storm on the Sea of Galilee to the “other side” of the Sea of Galilee. As they approach, they hear shrieking sounds in the darkness echoing across the water. Jesus takes them to a place where Jews were thrice forbidden. First, this is a Gentile land and Jews were forbidden to step foot in. As they get closer, they see that the one who is shrieking is naked which they were forbidden to see. And to make matters worse, he is in a cemetery and Jews have issues with tombs. As the boat finally reaches the shoreline and the bow wedges into the stony shore, Jesus is the only one who gets out.
The demoniac or demon-possessed man immediately engages Jesus. Now in the lands surrounding Palestine, demonic possession was not uncommon. Demon worship and even dedicating one’s child to the Devil was not unheard of. Thus, this no-name person may have been demon-possessed for quite some time and he is not a pretty sight. His arms and legs are most likely ringed with layers of scar tissue from repeatedly contesting the chains that others used to try and confine him to this place of the living dead. Now free of those chains, he tortures himself by gashing his body with stones, his recent wounds still oozing puss and blood. From both a physical, emotional and spiritual perspective, he is nauseating and repulsive. His being and personality are under the mastery of an evil power.
For most of us, our only exposure to demon possession is the movie, “The Exorcist” with the floating above the bed and heads spinning in a 360 direction. But the Gospels report a lot of demon possession and this is not Jesus’ only encounter with demons. The Bible tells us that one of the chief jobs of the demons is possession. But what is possession? A demons seeks to take possession of that which rightfully belongs to God. And do you know that means for you and me? The Bible tells us that we were bought with a price, that we are not our own, that we belong to God. So, the demons’ goal is to take possession of us from God.
Possession can occur anywhere evil has control on our life. It may not be our whole life. It may just be this one small piece that we haven’t been able or willing to give over to Christ’s Lordship yet or just something we’re struggling with. Possession can include bad habits we struggle with, the addictions that have claimed us, the negative attitudes or unhealthy thinking that control us. These are all demons that possess us. They take possession of that which rightfully belongs to God and wants us to live in God’s will. Now, the Bible also tells us that if we name these demons, if we can call them out, we know who they are and how they work; they begin to lose some of their power over us. So let’s do that today. Will you help me name some demons that people are struggling with? What are some of those demons? Just yell them out. Fear, yes. Addiction, yes. Gambling, yes. Greed, yes. Anger, definitely. Envy, Alcohol, Mistrust. Folks, there are 1000’s of demons we struggle with. The first thing is we need to do is to name them.
There are several insights we learn from our Scripture today about demons and winning the battle for our hearts and our minds. First, demons are always looking for a doorway into our lives. A doorway is that thing which is displeasing to God. Maybe it’s fear or pride, or anger or stress or whatever…we leave that doorway open, and usually for most of us it’s just a little crack. But it’s wide enough for demons to enter and take possession of our lives. And when they get hold of you, we just “lose our mind.” We’ve all had those “maniac moments” where we go crazy or we make a decision and after we wonder how we ever could have done such a thing because that’s not who we are. Here’s the key, a demon just needs a toehold in your life. They creep in through those small cracks and take possession of who we are. And it only starts out small, right? It is just one drink. It’s just one lottery ticket, just one hand at the casino, or just one more click on the computer. And we’ve all used the one “just this one last time.” But before we know it, those issues we have become issues that have us.