|Observing the Text!|
Jesus Was Kingdom Centered: An Assault on the Kingdom of Satan
There is an indispensable relationship between the words of Jesus and the works of Jesus. His preaching and teaching ministry and his miracles are in essence the same thing expressed differently. Some have suggested that the miracles of Jesus were no more than a form of great advertising. They heightened interest in the message/words of Jesus, often startling men and women into paying attention to what he had to say. Others have suggested that the miracles are rewards for having faith. When a person has gained enough faith, then a miracle can occur. This idea promotes human effort as a starting point to pursuade God to do what the human has faith in. The words of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole,” could validate this kind of a meaning (Luke 17.19). However, there are other places where miracles occurred in which an individual did not have a personal faith response. Certainly, the widow’s son who was resuscitated would certainly fit this category (Luke 7.11-17). It would be hard to press a meaning that the dead man’s faith brought him back to life.
Yet another reason offered for the miracles of Jesus is that he had compassion on people in need. Certainly, we are shown his compassion in the Gospels (the widow’s son, (Mark 7.11-17); the feeding of the five thousand, (Mark 6.30-42). However, it must be pointed out that Jesus did not heal everyone that he passed. In the stories we have in the Gospels, he left many sick and hungry, actually more people than we are told that he healed and fed.
If miracles were rewards for people’s faith, then it follows that one left unhealed who has genuine faith might deduct that his or her faith is insufficient. If miracles are evidence of the compassion of Jesus, the unhealed person might come to believe that in his or her case Jesus has no compassion. We must look elsewhere to discover the purpose of the works of Jesus.
Remember, the words and works of Jesus are identical in their meaning. There is no difference between them. The works have the exact same meaning as the words. The words of Jesus announce that the kingdom of God is at hand. The works of Jesus demonstrate what the kingdom of God is like. His preaching, teaching, parable-telling, healing ministry were announcements of the fact that the kingdom had arrived and the rule of God would destroy the rule of Satan.the words and works of Jesus are identical in their meaning. There is no difference between them. Click To Tweet
It seems certain, then, that the miracles of Jesus should be understood in the context of warfare with Satan. John understood this concept when he wrote, The whole world is in the power of the evil one…(1 John 5.19). Paul tells the Corinthians that Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4.4). In his circular letter to the churches around Ephesus he told the congregations that the church does not fight against flesh and blood, the real enemy is Satan. He described the frightening dimensions of satanic power and insisted that his readers stand against their cosmic foe, the principalities and powers, the world rulers of this present darkness. Paul is convinced that this present evil age is entangled in the snares of Satan and estranged from God and under the rule of fallen powers and principalities (Gal. 1.4).
The Second (New) Testament believes that while Satan is not in control of the world, he does have limited power and authority. The ills and woes of humankind originate with him. Suffering, tragedy, and pain are not punishments of an angry God. They are the result of living in a fallen world and are sometimes a direct attack from the kingdom of Satan.
The miracles of Jesus are attacks on Satan and his demonic forces and reverse the stronghold of Satan and demonstrate the kingdom of God. Jesus both announced the kingdom with his words and carved out an arena in which the kingdom invaded the rule of Satan with his works.
The miracles of Jesus can be viewed within four different areas: expelling demons, curing diseases, dealing with nature, and overcoming death.
|Interpreting the Text!|
The Greeks thought of demons as spirits of the dead who were endowed with supernatural power. The Jews thought of angels and spirits rather than demons. Angels were understood to be messengers of God who, when they appeared on earth, appeared in human form (Dan. 10.18). In the First (Old) Testament, The Satan was simply one of these angels, who by divine permission could tempt Job (Job 1-2). Even spirits designated as evil spirits were merely emissaries of God when looked at through First Testament eyes (Judges 9.23; 1 Sam. 16.14-15).
In Second Temple Judaism, which used to be called the Intertestamental Period (404 B.C.-A.D. 4), angelology (belief about angels) and pneumatology (belief about spirits) of the Jews flourished. Angels were conceived of as an army that will take part in the final war against the wicked, as seen in the Testament of Levi 3.3. Opposed to the good angels and spirits are the hostile (fallen) angels or evil spirits (1 Enoch 15.8-12; 1 Enoch 16.1-4; Jubilees 12.20), under the leadership of one variously called Satan, Mastema, or Beliar (Jubilees 1.20, 10.11, 107.8; 1 Enoch 54.6). Although these passages cited above are not to be understood as Scripture, they do give us a window to see how the people of that time frame thought and possibly believed.
What Are Demons? Click To Tweet The Works of Jesus over Demons
What Can Demons Do?
They can harm us spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally (look at demon stories in Mark), and by deluding us doctrinally.
Where Are Demons?
Some are chained until judgment (1 Pet. 3.18-22; 2 Pet. 2.4; Jude 6). Others are held until the end of time (Luke 8.31; Rev. 20.1). While yet others are loose and free to do all the damage they can (Eph. 6.10-13).
What Are Demons?
They are intelligent (Acts 16.16-18), spirits (Luke 10.17-20), wicked (Matt. 12.43-45), know their own end (Matt. 8.29; James 2.19), have supernatural strength (Luke 8.29; Acts 19.11-17), but must bow to Jesus’ name (Mark 5.7; Luke 8.26-29).
When Jesus expelled a demon from a person, it was a direct attack on Satan. At the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (Mark 1.15), Jesus withstood the attacks of the enemy in the wilderness and demonstrated that one area of nature in the presence of Jesus had been restored. Mark records, “The wild beasts were with him but did not harm him” (Mark 1.13). When Jesus left the wilderness, he came to preach that the rule of God was present in the synagogue of Capernaum. No sooner than he had opened his mouth, the demonic forces attacked. One can only surmise that he may have been teaching about the kingdom. A demon recognized Jesus (I know who you are-the Holy one of God: Mark 1.24) and the demon knew that Jesus had come to destroy him.
Jesus rebuked the demon and told him to be silent (Mark 1.25). The two Greek words are very strong. Rebuke can be defined as to scold, denounce, censure in order to bring an action to an end. Be silent can be defined as to muzzle, strangle, or tie shut. Jesus lashed out at the demon, denounced him, and choked him off and set the man who was demonized free. It is not only Satan, the strong man of Mark 3.27, who alone is to be bound. It is his co-workers who would also be attacked, strangled, choked, and destroyed.
When Jesus delivered the young boy with a dumb spirit (Matt. 17.18; Mark 9.25; Luke 9.42) the same word rebuke is used by these authors. Driving out demons and smashing the ruling grip of Satan on the stolen world was proof and fulfillment that the kingdom which Jesus had announced had arrived. The arrival of the kingdom is simultaneous with, dependent on, and manifested in the throwing out of demons from people’s lives in the present. The kingdom will arrive in its fullness on a worldwide basis at the Second Coming of Jesus at which time this activity will cease.
Until that future moment, the battles go on, even though the decisive battle has been won by Jesus on the cross. The call of the army of God is to rout out Satan and his demonic friends.
|Living into the Text!|
It is always important to live into what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.
- How do you understand Jesus’ use of the miraculous? What led you to those beliefs?
- Have you ever had the experience of casting out a demon?
- What do you think your responsibility is in this area of warfare?
The articles below come from various Bible Dictionaries and other sources. The posting of these brief articles are to introduce some readers to the vast amount of information that is provided to enhance your reading of the text of the Bible with a hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the text and will lead the reader to an improved praxis in his or her community of faith and personal life. You might read the articles offline in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. Revell Bible Dictionary is no longer in print but is available from Amazon. One of these should suit your personal needs.