A Clean, but Empty House

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Reading the Word

Luke 11:24–26 (ESV)

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 12:43-45

Understanding and Applying the Word

In today’s reading, Jesus warns about the necessity of making a decision about him. There is no neutral ground.

When a demon has gone out of a person (notice this is not one that has been cast out) it goes through the water less places seeking rest. The desert was believed to be the dwelling place of demons except when they had taken up residence in someone or something. When the demon could not find a suitable place to go, it decided to return from where it had come. The old house had been cleaned up and put in order so that the place was better than ever. Though it had been cleaned up, it had not been filled. As a result, the demon went out and invited others to join him in the fine accommodations. Now the situation was worse than at the beginning.

We often try to clean up our lives in our own strength. We may even feel like we have done it at times. However, personal reform does not last long. We need the life-giving presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in us to bring us true victory over evil. The Spirit is given to all who trust in Jesus Christ. Pray that Christ would send the Spirit to give you new life and remain with you to give you the power and strength you need each day to live for Jesus.

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Division over Jesus

John 11 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 10:19–21 (ESV)

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again the people were divided over Jesus. Some believed he was demon-possessed and that he was insane because of the things he was saying. This was not the first time he was accused of being possessed (cf. John 7:20 and 8:48). Others questioned how Jesus could teach such things and work great wonders if he was under the influence of a demon. Demons did not have such power. He must be from God.

John’s Gospel was written to give us the evidence of who Jesus was. He was God incarnate (cf. John 1:1, 14; John 20:30-31). As we examine this Gospel, we are not only presented with the evidence for Jesus, but also told of the reasons some resisted him. However, as in these verses, the reasons for doubt quickly fall away when the evidence is examined more closely. “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” Take the time to read the four Gospels, especially John. Ask yourself, given all that is recorded for us, who is Jesus?

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Help My Unbelief!

Mark 924 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 17:14–20 (ESV)

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43

Understanding and Applying the Word

Today, we read of Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy. The boy’s father went to Jesus because his son’s symptoms were very violent and because Jesus’ disciples were unable to drive out the demon.

The accounts written in Matthew and in Mark seem to give different reasons for why the disciples were not able to effectively handle the demon. In Matthew, Jesus says the problem was the disciples had “little faith” and that if they had the faith of a mustard seed they would be able to move mountains. In Mark, Jesus tells the disciples that the only way to drive out a demon of this nature is through prayer. So, which is it? Why are there seemingly different reasons given by Jesus?

At first glance, Matthew and Mark may seem to be at odds, but when we better understand them both, we see that they are, in fact, in agreement. In Matthew, we must understand that Jesus is not speaking about the disciples ability to muster a certain quantity of faith. Consider the words from David Turner in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Matthew and Mark:

The issue is not the intensity or amount of faith but the degree to which that faith perceives its object. The power of faith is in the person in whom it is placed. Jesus’ disciples were unable to heal the epileptic boy because they had taken their eyes off of Jesus and looked at the obstacles, just as Peter did during the storm when he began to sink (14:31). Faith is not believing in faith but in the heavenly Father.

When we consider this understanding with Jesus’ comment on prayer in Mark 9:29, we see how the two accounts compliment each other. The disciples’ faith had failed because their eyes were not on Jesus and this is evidenced by their lack of prayer and trust in God.

Prayer tells us a great deal about our faith. Are we trusting in ourselves and our own strength and abilities or are we trusting in God and his plans and purposes? How does your prayer life reflect where your faith truly lies?

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Son of David

Matthew 219 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 9:27–34 (ESV)

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus heals two blind men and a man possessed by a demon. The Old Testament Scriptures told of a day when God would exercise his power and that the blind would see (cf. Isaiah 29:18; 35:5–6; 42:7). It is significant that the two blind men address Jesus as the “son of David.” In doing so, they were saying that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who was a descendant of David. Jesus healed the blind men and also a man possessed by a demon that demonstrated that he truly was the son of David, the Messiah, and that God was at work in a powerful way.

The Pharisees, those who were looked at as religious leaders of the people, did not see Jesus in a positive light. They saw him as an enemy and even said that his mighty works were done through the power of the prince of demons, Satan!

Jesus’ life calls us to make a decision about who he is. Will we accept him as Lord, the promised Messiah, and Savior? Or will we reject him? In rejecting him, the Pharisees became opponents to what God was doing in the world. They rejected the Savior that the Father had sent on their behalf and sought to get rid of Jesus. Take the time to get to know the truth abut Jesus so that you too can know him as Savior.

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Begging Jesus to Go Away

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Reading the Word

Mark 5:1–20 (ESV)

1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Jesus reached the shore he was met by a demoniac. The man was not only possessed, he was possessed by multiple demons. When Jesus asked his name, we are told that the reply was “Legion, for we are many.” We are also told that this man lived among the tombs and no one could bind him because he would just break the shackles.

This seems like a scary situation, but Jesus was not afraid. He was in charge and the demons knew it! When they were face-to-face with Jesus, they did not threaten him, but asked what he was going to do to them. The demon who spoke begged Jesus not to send them out of the country, but to send them into the herd of pigs instead. Jesus did as requested and the demons left the man and entered the pigs. Immediately, the pigs rushed over a bank and drowned in the sea.

The owners of the pigs, evidently not happy about the loss of their property, went to the city and spread the news of what happened. When the people heard the news, they went out to see Jesus. However, they did not go out to praise Jesus for such an amazing thing, but to ask him to leave their region. They did not want Jesus there! The man who had been healed by Jesus wanted to stay with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go tell others what had happened to him, which he did.

Jesus is a polarizing figure. He always has been. When confronted with who he is, there are really only two options: we can run away from him or we can embrace him. When the townspeople were face-to-face with the Son of the Most High God, they feared and wanted nothing to do with him. His presence was overwhelming to them. He was a threat. The man who had been freed from the demons did not see Jesus as a threat, but as his Savior. He did not want to leave Jesus’ side. When you are face-to face with Jesus, will you see him as a threat and one to be feared or will you see him as your Savior and the one you want to be with forever?

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Blaspheming the Work of God

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Reading the Word

Matthew 12:22–37 (ESV)

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Parallel Text: Mark 3:20-30

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus heals a man who is demon-possessed and the Pharisees accused Jesus of exercising the power of Satan to do so. In response, Jesus tells them that it would make no sense for him to do that. It would equate to Satan fighting against himself.

Instead, Jesus’ power was the power of God at work. For the Pharisees to resist Jesus and deny him was equivalent to resisting the kingdom of God and blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. To oppose God and the work of the Spirit would bring judgment and condemnation.

Those who mock Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity need to think carefully about what they are doing. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, then to resist him and dismiss his teachings is foolishness. To treat the Bible, which he authenticated, as inferior to human understanding or to persecute his Church is to stand against Christ himself. One day all will stand before Jesus and be judged. How will he judge those who had every opportunity to trust in him, but chose to actively oppose him and his people? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and rose from the dead as evidence of the truth of his claim. You owe it to yourself to examine the truth of the Resurrection. Below is a link to some resources that could help you get started.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/

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Jesus’ Power to Heal

All the City Was Gathered at His Door

All the City Was Gathered at His Door (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Luke 4:40–41 (ESV)

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:32-34

 

The Authority of Jesus

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Reading the Word

Mark 1:21–28 (ESV)

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Parallel Text: Luke 4:31-37

Understanding and Applying the Word

The people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They commented on the “authority” behind his teaching. Teachers usually quoted rabbis who were known and well-regarded to give credence to what they were saying, but Jesus did no such thing. He taught under his own authority and the people were amazed!  Who does Jesus think he is?

Well, to show his authority, Jesus healed a man suffering from demonic possession. The demon recognized Jesus and referred to him as “the Holy One of God.” The demon also showed that he was under Jesus’ authority because when Jesus told him to “come out of him”, that is exactly what the unclean spirit did. Once again, the people remarked about Jesus’ authority. Even the unclean spirits obey him!

Who was Jesus? This is an important question that every person must answer. Was he simply a good teacher? The people recognized that Jesus was unlike other teachers. He claimed his own superior authority over all other teachers. They also saw how Jesus had power over even the cosmic forces of evil by just speaking. He made commands and the demons listened! No, Jesus was not just a teacher. He was more than that. Jesus is the Holy One of God who came into the world with all authority. God has spoken. Let us not think otherwise and let us recognize his authority by obeying all he has said.

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