Sunday, March 12, 2023

Jesus casts out impure spirits & heals a Fever

"John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present--but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station."
-Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 18.

John Paton was a missionary to cannibals, but he found himself and his family protected from the tribes who might’ve otherwise killed them. But, God can do miracles.

We know that there is a spiritual world, beyond our physical world. It’s a world that we can’t see with our eyes. Though sometimes it is made visible to us.

During my time of drinking and drugs, I often sensed that there was something in the room with me, something harassing me, tormenting me, attempting to harm me. There were even a few rare times when I actually saw something.

In the spiritual world there is an ongoing battle going on between angelic messengers of God, angel armies, and demon armies, servants of evil. These are each participating in the spiritual battle for the souls of humanity on planet Earth.

Angels work for God, demons work for Satan, the evil one. God is infinitely more powerful than Satan and the demons. But in this great controversy, Satan and demons play their part in tempting humans toward sin. God and his angels then urge people toward the good. And we as humans make our free will choice, we either receive Christ as our savior and become pure and walk in God’s path, or we follow the flesh, the devil, and evil, and we indulge our desires.

God asks us, who are you?

Our flesh cries out: I want.

That is the great battle within us, between the Spirit and the flesh.

Jesus Christ our savior, our friend, understood this spiritual battlefield. He knew of the reality of angels and demons, and life and death and choice and destiny.

The life of Jesus, we saw last week, as recorded in the book of Mark, is playing out in front of ancient Israel.

Last week we saw in Mark chapter 1, Jesus being baptized, then being tested in the wilderness by Satan, then calling his first four disciples.

Jesus is operating in a small part of ancient Israel, in the region of Galilee. And we’re going to see Jesus engaging in the spiritual battle, by dealing demons that are inhabiting people.

But first, he teaches.

It says, “21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.”

For Jews the sabbath rest was on Saturdays. So it’s Saturday, and Jesus goes to the local church, and teaches the people.

And here we find our first point for today, something I want you to notice: Jesus taught with authority.

We often wonder, what’s actually true in the world? Who can I trust? And I think as we read the words of Jesus we find that we can trust the words he speaks. When we read them, something comes over us, I know for me, when I read the words of Jesus, I sense that they are true. I know deep within that they are true. Really real. I may not like it, it may call me out on my nonsense, but I can tell it is true. And that’s rare.

Jesus taught with real authority. You can trust that authority.

But then something astonishing happens.

It says this in verses 23-26: 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “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!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

Jesus now demonstrates his authority. Some listened I’m sure and thought why should we trust this man? Why should we believe his teaching? Because Jesus has and does have real power from heaven.

Before I was a Christian I was listening to the gospel of John over and over again, and I knew something was there. Something.. different. But could I really trust it? I took a leap of faith and prayed to Jesus to help me. And he did. He guided me out of drugs and drinking, and smoking and many other sins and addictions, and I was shocked to find, Jesus has real power and authority.

There really is someone there when I pray. Jesus is really answering and doing miracles in my life, things I can’t explain are happening in my life. Because Jesus is at work in my life. Evidence. Plain and simple.

For this situation, the entire church of Jews there, the synagogue now has evidence. They’ve known this man with an impure spirit, they’ve seen him act strangely. They can’t quite explain it. But then Jesus deals with the issue directly, and the man is set free.

We don’t see a lot of this in modern America, with demonic possession, impure spirits being cast out, we’ve seen it portrayed in movies I think, but possession does still occur in our day and age. I think it’s more rare in America because Christianity is so influential here, but in other nations, like in African countries or in India or China, possession is more common. And similarly in ancient Israel, possession was very common. Jesus deals with it quickly and directly.

Interesting side note, even the impure spirit knows that Jesus is the holy one of God, and Jesus quickly says be quiet. Don’t tell people that. Jesus is very strategic about timing.

It says in verse 27-28: “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 impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”

Very quickly the news about Jesus is spreading around the region of Galilee. Jesus is being very careful though to make sure it doesn’t spread too fast. It could easily spin out of control if it does.

So our first incident today, is Jesus teaching in the temple, and then casting out the impure spirit from the man. What happens next?

In verses 29-31 it says, “29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

Simon Peter’s mother in law has been sick in bed with a bad fever. This is the family of one of the first four disciples he’s called to follow him. He comes into Peter’s home, and Peter tells Jesus, my mother in law is sick. So he goes by her bed side, and helped her up. And just like that, the fever was gone.

How is that possible? Jesus is able with special power from heaven, to heal the sick and hurt.

Now in all the history of the world, no one has ever been able to do such a thing. It’s just not possible. But, one man, Jesus Christ, did it. And that’s why he’s made such an impact on the history of planet Earth. It’s hard to forget someone like that, even two thousand years later. We still talk about Jesus, and all he did and all he still does today in the world.

We still hear today, in the body of Christ, of people being miraculously healed. And they will tell you that Jesus healed them, or Christians prayed, and they were healed.

Many stories I’ve heard from this church, of people being sick, and then we prayed here, and they were healed. Cancer disappeared. Issues on the spine, turned out to be nothing at all. Suddenly people get well. Health issues are overcome. When we pray in Jesus name, what does that mean? In the authority of Jesus Christ, which we now have, we pray this, and then, it happens.

And we’re amazed.

But this begs the question: Why isn’t everyone healed then? Why do some people never get healed? For me, why am I tired everyday? I had a stomach issue for over a year, and it took a long time to slowly get better, why didn’t Jesus heal it instantly? Not everything issue is healed. Just like in Jesus time, not every person was healed. Sometimes the addict doesn’t survive, they die. Sometimes the cancer patient does die. Sometimes healing doesn’t come. And that’s OK too.

It's not God’s will for every person to get well. Sometimes maybe we need to be sick for a while. Or it’s simply a reality of this world. But, healing does happen too.

Then it says, “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”

It doesn’t take long for people to hear about these two incidents, the man in the temple and Simon’s mother in law. Now people are lined up by the hundreds, and Jesus is healing them, and casting out demons.

But it’s noted again, he doesn’t let the demons speak, because they know who he is. Is that confusing? Wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to know who He is? Actually no, he wouldn’t. Jesus is focused on timing.

Jesus knew that later, his followers would shout from the rooftops what had been spoken about in the inner room. But for now, it needs to happen slowly.

Thirdly, recorded near the end of chapter one, it says this, “35-39 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

Jesus goes off by himself, early in the morning and he prays. He gets alone with God and he prays. Even Jesus the son of God needed to pray, to talk to the Father. So we also need to do that, to get alone with God.

Maybe even to get out in nature, and to simply pray, and talk to God, for hours, that sounds wonderful. If Jesus did it, we should do it. We must do it. Get alone with God. Talk to Him. Pray to Him. Seek His help. For some, the morning is best. For some, night is best.

In any case, Simon and the disciples go searching for Jesus and find him out in the solitary place, saying hey everyone is looking for you.

But Jesus doesn’t actually return to that same area. He has to move on to a new area. Everyone in the region needs to hear the message. So he moves on to different cities in Galilee, going to the local temples, and teaching, and proving hus authority by miraculous healing and the casting out of demons.

And here we find one of the central themes of Mark’s gospel, the action gospel, the right now gospel, Jesus teaches, but Jesus also acts, he has authority, he has power, and he uses that power and authority in very real ways.

Same thing with each of us today. We each have a testimony of what Jesus has done for us. Yes, he teaches us. That’s one of the reasons we come to church each Sunday to receive teaching and learn more about our savior to fill our mind with truth, but, we have more than the teachings of Christ, we have each encountered Christ, and he has done something for us, he has freed us from addictions, he has healed our broken hearts, he has healed brokenness and hurts, he has redeemed us from guilt, he has freed us from demonic influence and given us new dreams and hopes.

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus takes practical action in the lives of the people he meets, he heals them, he casts out demons, he teaches with authority.

It doesn’t have to be something huge like healing you from cancer or breaking you from drug addiction, it can be so many more simple things, like sensing His love, or finding new hope, or having your heart softened and encouraged, finding something true and beautiful in world of lies.

So that’s our challenge for today, to see the authority of Jesus Christ, and to see in that authority something special.

Second, to know we find ourselves in a spiritual battle amongst angels and demons and hard choices.

Thirdly, to know Jesus does heal health problems, but that’s not always the case either. It’s very situational.

And fourthly, to pray like Jesus prayed is vital. To spend time alone with the Father in heaven. That’s real. And that’s powerful.