Monday, April 29, 2013

The Morning After: Jesus' Authority over Demons (Matthew 8:28-34)

The authority that Jesus has and displays is not just with the physical world. He is Lord of creation and people, but He is also Lord of the spiritual realm. He is Lord of demons and Satan. And even though the Bible unequivocally states this, the demonic world will do anything and everything they can to defeat Jesus. But the reality is they have no hope of victory because they are already defeated. That is what is happening when Jesus comes in contact with two demon-possessed men in Matthew 8:28-34.

The story goes something like this. Jesus gets in a boat to get away from the crowds. He is exhausted from the work of teaching and healing. After the incident in the boat with the wind and the waves, He gets to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. When He does, He is greeted by naked, strong, multiple-demon-possessed men who live in a graveyard. And when that happens, the demons confess they know who Jesus really is and then beg to be cast out into a herd of pigs. When Jesus allows them to go into the pigs, the herd rush down the hill and drown in the sea. In response, the men worship Jesus, but the townspeople beg Jesus to leave them alone. That's the story.

Even in this story, there are several interesting thoughts. First, the demons know who Jesus is, they know their outcome, and they know Jesus' authority. When they approach Jesus, they immediately recognize who He is. They admit that He is the Son of God. And they also know that they will lose in the end. They ask Jesus a very revealing question: "Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Before what time? Before the time that they know He is coming to end it all (Revelation 20:7-10). They know it is a fixed game. They know they are fighting a losing battle. They know in the end, there is no hope for them. But they obviously continue to battle in the hopes of keeping as many people from being rescued from their same fate as they can.

Another thing that is obvious here is that they know the authority Jesus has over them. They beg Jesus to cast them into the herd of pigs. This raises a question, why the pigs? Think about it. The demons know that Jesus has the authority to do whatever He wants with them. And we know that demons are here primarily to create chaos and hatred for the things of God. It seems best to me to see this request to be cast into the pigs as one final effort by the demons to destroy and create animosity towards Jesus and His ministry.

And it works. The result of the pigs drowning (the gospel of Mark tells us that it was about 2,000 pigs) is that the townspeople want nothing to do with Jesus. For sure, they were upset at the loss of their pigs. But they were also scared at the power of Jesus. These men who could not be tamed were released with just one word by Jesus. That's authority. That's power. And that is Jesus!

If you want to listen to the sermon or read my notes, you can find them HERE (audio is usually posted sometime on Tuesday). I go into much more detail on all of those points listed as well as drive home some points of application at the end of the message. 

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