He holds the kids. He smiles at the kids. He feeds them Gogurts. He’s always happy.
Jesus certainly is kind like that. There are plenty of occasions that is true. But is Jesus always like that? Is he just an ancient Mr. Rogers?
I don't know. You tell me:
- Would Mr. Rogers stand on the temple steps screaming at a group of people, "Woe! You Blind Guys. You Brood of Vipers!"
- Would Mr. Rogers head to the temple and turn over tables while rushing people out of the way?
- Would Mr. Rogers turn to all the other people in his "neighborhood" and say to them, "You wicked generation!”
No? Not even if Trolley the Train called him a bad name?
These are things that Jesus did. He isn't always so warm and fuzzy. He isn't a pushover.
Jesus is COMBATIVE.
I. Whose Side Does He Fight On?
Take our text for this morning from Mark 1 to see Jesus show his combative side:
Jesus went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the Holy One of God!"
Notice what it says in our text. Jesus was in the temple preaching. Things were going well. People were impressed by the authority with which he preached. When along comes a man who was possessed by an evil spirit!
What do we know about evil spirits? To put it simply: Evil spirits are evil. This isn’t just because they have the word “evil” in their name either. A few Scripture sections describe to us how evil spirits came to be:
- 1 Peter 2:9 “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell.” This is a passage focusing us on the seriousness of sins – but we learn something about evil spirits in it. They were angels. They sinned. Sin is opposition to God. Therefore – evil spirits are angels that rebelled against God.
- Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightning.” Jesus described what that event was like. It seems that Satan himself – also an angel – led the rebellion. He was cast out with his army of evil spirits – those opposed to God.
- 1 Peter 5:8 "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting to devour you.” He’s not only against God. The devil is against you. God’s goal is to save you. The devil’s is to destroy you.
Now look at the words of the evil spirit when he sees Jesus. He doesn’t give Jesus a high five. He doesn’t say, “Long time no see bud.” He doesn’t offer to buy Jesus a drink.
He’s terrified. He knows what it means to see Jesus – and Jesus is not one of his buds. Look at verse 24. “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” The evil spirit sees Jesus and assumes – a fight is coming. They are not on the same side.
So what does all of this mean when it comes to determining whose side Jesus is on? Think about it: If evil spirits are evil and Jesus is against evil spirit, then Jesus is good.
That’s exactly what the evil spirit calls him, “the Holy One of God!”
Now don’t misinterpret that phrase. I fear that the definition has been lost and changed in Modern Society. Kinda like how the Word “organic.” It used to mean “absolutely zero chemicals or pesticides of any kind in use.” Now it means “we paid a fee to tell people that we don’t’ use a lot of pesticides.” Holy, in God’s Word” means “zero bad.” It doesn’t mean “relatively good in comparison to others.” It doesn’t mean “a smidgens of evil.” It doesn’t mean “99.9% good.”
Holy means completely, utterly, 100%, certified, grade A good! That’s Jesus. Completely, utterly, 100%, certified, grade A good!
II. Which Side is More Powerful?
Jesus and this demon are on opposite sides then. It sounds kind of scary too. There’s bound to be a fight. Because this demon was powerful. Look at what it says about the man, “the man was possessed by an evil spirit.” Possession means that the spirit had taken over. He took over his body. He took over his intellect. This evil spirit was in complete control of this man.
Think of how scary that is. The man had no control over what he said. The man couldn’t feed himself when he wanted. In extreme Biblical cases, the demon would cause the man to harm himself without any provocation or convincing. If you’ve ever seen a demon possession movie, know this: the real thing is REAL and twice as scary. If you haven’t seen those movies, don’t go watching them. There’s no reason for you to be influenced by such powerfully evil stuff.
Demons are obviously more powerful than humans. Even in today’s society – when possession is thankfully less common – demons work to tempt us into sin after sin.
Jesus is more powerful than your average human. But as this demon possessed man approaches, one might expect a UFC like showdown. Punches. Swords. Divine headlocks!
Not so much.
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” (v.25)
The demon? He doesn’t have a snappy comeback. The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. (v.26)
Did you see how amazing that was? Jesus didn’t pull out a sword. He didn’t shoot fireballs at the demon. He didn’t evil call on any of his disciples for help. He simply spoke and the demon was defeated. The crowd is impressed too. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” (v.27)
This whole approach of mere words winning a fight probably won’t work later today at the Super Bowl. As impressive as Tom Brady can be, if all he did was step out on the field and say, “Leave you Seahawks,” I’m thinking it doesn’t’ have the same effect. Same thing in boxing. Imagine the great Muhammad Ali, who had a lot to say, stepping into a boxing ring, taking off his gloves, not throwing a punch, and simply saying, “KNOCKOUT!” It probably wouldn’t be long before he was on the floor.
This is the awesome power of Jesus. Jesus is all powerful. He is more powerful than any evil spirit. He defeats them with mere words.
What Does this Mean for you?
You might be thinking. This is nice. It sounds kinda like my son’s Spiderman comic book. Good beats evil. Great. But what does this have to do with my everyday life.
More than you think.
Here are three take home points to remember from this lesson:
1. What Jesus says is GOOD.
It is so very common in our American society to call Jesus out and label him evil because some of Jesus’ ideas don’t fit into today’s society. I was reading an article on the Huffington Post the other day. It was all about how to spot subliminal hate speech. The claim was that saying “homosexuality is sinful” is downright evil. But even using phrases such as “traditional marriage” is hateful. It implies that homosexual marriage isn’t real marriage. The article was purporting that such kind of speech not be tolerated and stopped because it was so evil.
Hmmm. Churches didn’t get this from themselves. Jesus himself was a proponent of marriage. He said, “For this reason a man leaves his father and mothers and is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh.” (Mt. 19:5-6)
IS that hate speech? IS that evil?
This isn’t the only accusation against Jesus. The world will claim:
- Jesus spoke of sexual immorality as wrong. He endorsed being completely pure and saving yourself as a virgin until marriage. Society says “That’s preposterous” and if you bug someone about it being sinful, you should butt out of their life because you’re making them feel guilty. You and this Jesus are evil.
- Jesus endorsed the Old Testament in which God repeatedly caused harm to people. How awful! Is Jesus condoning the violence of God against the Old Testament Israelites? Evil.
- Jesus said, “I am the Way – no one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6) If such an idea were posted on a blog – wait to see how long it takes to get that thought flagged and taken down by the moderators who are getting rid of ‘evil language’ - -Jesus’ language.
Do you see why this lesson is important? There’s no doubt that Jesus and modern society clash. That’s not in question. The big question is who is right? Who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil?
Let’s talk elementary for a moment:
What sound does a cow make? A cow moos. It makes cow sounds. How about a dog? A dog barks. Simple enough. Dogs say dog things and cows say cow things. A cat cannot not cluck and a chicken cannot meow. That’s not who they are.
Jesus is Good. Holy. 100% all the time good. What he says is good. 100% all the time good.
Therefore, when it comes to the case of Jesus versus modern society who’s right? Who’s good and who’s evil? Scripture says this in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “Satan masquerades as an angel of light,” which means that sometimes things that look good, nice, and not very harmful – are terrible wrong and harmful.
Who do you trust? The ones who follow demons or the one who drives them out?
This leads to an important question. Why is there such a disconnect? Why do Jesus and society not mesh? Why are there passages in the Bible that you read and disagree with? Whose fault is it?
Remember: It can’t be Jesus. He is always good. Therefore, if you disagree…if you think differently…if you do differently,…if you say differently than Jesus, who’s wrong? (CLUE: It’s not Jesus.)
BOTTOM LINE: If You are Doing, Saying or Thinking Something that’s against what Jesus says – You’re Wrong! It can’t be Jesus. It must be you!
Do you realize the plight of our situation? Do you realize the sad state that our sin filled souls are in? Join me in pleading with the apostle Paul: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
Hear Jesus’ call in these words: “Repent. Turn from evil. Turn back to God.”
3. Jesus is Your Help against Evil.
Evil is the very reason Jesus came to earth in the first place. He came down to earth to eradicate the world of the evil that the devil had brought into it back at the garden of Eden. There wasn’t a day of Jesus’ life that there wasn’t a battle. Demons, temptations, and the devil were surrounding him. But Jesus never fell. He never lost. He was undefeated in every temptation battle he entered. He’s the undisputed champion of eternity.
Even when it looked like he lost as he hung on the cross, things weren’t as they seemed. On that cross, Jesus won the final victory. He defeated the devil. He crushed evil. Three days later, he demolished death.
Then, with the same powerful voice that he used to run the demon out of the temple, Jesus speaks: “You are forgiven. You are my brother. You are a soldier in the army of the LORD! Come and fight with me.”
So…fight! Fight evil. Fight temptation. Fight your demons.
Thankfully demons aren’t manifesting like they did back at Jesus’ time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t demons you have to face. Alcohol. Drug addiction. Pornography. Sexual temptation with your girlfriend. Going too far with your boyfriend. Hatred and anger all over social media. The temptation to be cool and abandon God.
There’s so many temptation demons around it’s scary!
But you aren’t alone. Jesus – the One who hates evil and who is vehemently stronger than it – is with you. Call on him. Pray for his blessing. Use his Word to banish temptation. Call on a Christian friend for support. Head to church to strengthen your spiritual fighting muscles.
And look forward to The Day—the day when all this fighting is over, the day when weary spiritual soldiers rest their feet, the day where you stop fighting, the day when God takes you home to be with Him and celebrate his Gospel victory party. Amen.