Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Jesus' Miracles and What They Teach Us

This is part 4 of a series that looks at why Jesus performed miracles and what He taught us through them. The series will work its way through:

  1. Why Jesus performed miracles.
  2. More Reasons
  3. His Authority Over Disease
  4. His Authority Over Satan
  5. His Authority Over Nature
  6. His Authority Over Death
  7. His Authority Delegated to His Disciples
  8. His Authority Delegated to His Church

You can get to any of the available lessons by clicking on the lesson title. If nothing happens you are either already at the lesson, or I have not written it yet.

Jesus' Miracles and His Authority

Jesus proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. As its King, we would expect Him to rule. On earth He spoke and taught as one who had authority, and thus could command and expect obedience from His subjects. 

His miracles, however, demonstrated that His authority extended beyond the rule of citizens. In each of the next sections, I will provide several stories from the gospels and then add my comments

He Had Authority over Satan

There are 2 stories that I will relate to illustrate Jesus' authority over Satan.

Then they went to Capernaum. When the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people there were amazed by his teaching, because he taught them like one who had authority, not like the experts in the law. Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, “Silence! Come out of him!” After throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed so that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.” So the news about him spread quickly throughout all the region around Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28, The Net Bible)

One of my activities is directing an Alpha course in my church. One of the highlights of this course is the Alpha weekend away. It is a retreat to get away from the common cares of life and learn about the Holy Spirit: who He is, what He does, and how to be filled with Him. Saturday evening is when I ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit to come among us and fill us. It is always a special time of connecting with the Lord. On one occasion, however, a young man reacted to the presence of the Holy Spirit by speaking strange sounds in an evil booming voice. We laid hands on the young man and he found peace. Much later I learned that he had engaged in occult practices for some time before coming on the course. This will often open people up to the demonic realm. In the presence of the Holy Spirit, the demon bothering this man manifested and left him.

This is what happened in the synagogue at which Jesus taught. The presence of God forced the demon to make itself known, disrupt the meeting, and create controversy. Jesus then commanded the demon to leave and it left after making a further scene.

The second story shows the degree to which Jesus had authority over the realm of Satan.

So they sailed over to the region of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As Jesus stepped ashore, a certain man from the town met him who was possessed by demons. For a long time this man had worn no clothes and had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and shouted with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I beg you, do not torment me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him. So he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into deserted places.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they began to beg him not to order them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and the demons begged Jesus to let them go into them. He gave them permission. So the demons came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd of pigs rushed down the steep slope into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran off and spread the news in the town and countryside. So the people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus. They found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the man who had been demon-possessed had been healed. Then all the people of the Gerasenes and the surrounding region asked Jesus to leave them alone, for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare what God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:26-39)

Notice again how the presence of God in the person of Jesus initiated the demonic manifestation. Jesus commanded the evil spirit and it began to negotiate its exit. With authority, Jesus continued to command responded to some of their requests and forced them to leave. The man's deliverance freaked out the citizens of that country, so they asked Jesus to leave.

Observations

The demonic realm is real. Before I became a Christian, I too experimented with the occult and sought mind expansion through drug use. During one meditation session, I felt like something had grabbed me by the toes and was pulling me from my body. With effort I stayed put. Afterwards, I sensed the presence of spirits around me constantly. When I surrendered my life to Christ the presence left and never returned. Today as more young people open themselves to occult teaching, we can expect the level of demonization in increase. I will write more about this in the section on delegated authority.

Wednesday: Jesus' Authority Over Death 

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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