1And he went to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. 2Right when he got out of the boat, he was met by a man with an unclean spirit who came out from among the tombs. 3The man lived in the tombs, and neither chains nor anything else could bind him, 4because he had been bound with shackles and chains, and he broke the chains and shattered the shackles, and nobody could control him. 5Night and day he would be among the tombs and in the hills screaming and cutting himself with rocks. 6And when he saw Jesus from a long ways away, he ran and bowed to him, 7and shouted, “What is there between us, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, don’t torment me!” 8For Jesus was saying to him, “Unclean spirit! Come out of the man!” 9And he asked it (the spirit), “What is your name?”
And it said, “My name is legion, for we are many!” 10Then it begged him many times not to send him out of the region.Â Â Â Mark 5:1-10 (HN)
Previously I discussed how Jesus truly believed his own proclamation.Â He believe that God’s kingdom was present and active and that healing would take place. Because of that faith and faithfulness, he had enormous success in confronting evil.
Now let’s look at the differences in how Jesus behaved in confronting evil and the way we do it in the church and in our lives today.Â Perhaps we can see why our success is not quite as stellar!
1.Â Jesus was himself a challenge to evil.Â Notice that the man tormented by the demons does not avoid Jesus, but rather approaches him.Â Evil cannot tolerate the presence of good, and will come after you.Â If you are never criticized, if you are never challenged, if you’re behavior never challenges others, perhaps you aren’t â€œputting on Jesus.â€Â Ask yourself this:Â Would the devil care if my church shut down?
2.Â Jesus went where the man was.Â For all we know, his trip across the sea was made for this one man.Â In the modern church, we’d expect the man to come to us.
3.Â Notice that Jesus didn’t run or avoid the encounter.Â There was every reason to do so, but he faced up to the danger.Â In our churches, I suspect we would be very quick to call the police in a case like this.
4.Â Jesus knew the source of the problem.Â He isn’t disgusted at the man.Â He doesn’t rebuke the person.Â He rebukes the demon.Â His concern is always for the person.Â What reaction would there be in your church if this man showed up at the door?
5.Â The demons immediately respected the authority of Jesus.Â They recognized who he was and the spiritual power he wielded.Â Do we have this authority today in our churches?Â Do we really believe the gospel message?