|Observing the Text!|
An Assault on the Kingdom of Satan: Power over Nature
Demonic forces play havoc in the lives of humankind through demonization and sickness. They also indirectly exert their perverted influence by causing nature to run amuck. Understanding the nature of Satan is a key to understanding the nature miracles.
|Interpreting the Text!|
Power over Nature
The Storm at Sea: Mark 4.35-41
Often this story is used to posit a meaning of the ability of Jesus to bring inward harmony. “As the winds and the waves of life begin to sink your boat, Jesus is there to speak, ‘peace, be still!'” While it is true that Jesus can bring peace into a stormy life, this is not the primary interest of Mark in telling this story. Rather, he wanted to demonstrate for his readers that Jesus was in conflict with the disrupter of nature.
According to Paul (Rom. 8.21), the forces of evil hold creation in bondage and decay. In the beginning when God created, he gave humans dominion over all things. When Jesus and his disciples were in the boat, Satan was attempting to take that dominion away. The twelve, in fear, cry, “Master, we perish!”
They woke Jesus and immediately he rebuked the wind. The word, which Mark used for rebuke, is the same word spoken to the demonized man in the synagogue and to the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus spoke to the storm and told the sea to “be quiet.” Again the same word was used by Jesus as the one he spoke to the demoniac in the synagogue. He simply scolds the sea in the same way he did the demon.
It can be reasoned that Jesus uses the same words in dealing with demons and sickness that he used in dealing with the storm at sea, because he saw them as having the same originator. In bringing the demonic to wholeness, Jesus attacked the person of the demon. In healing the mother-in-law and bringing the sea into compliance, he attacked the work of the demon.
Power over Death
Death was the last bastion of rule for Satan. It was his most powerful and feared weapon. It was final! For those who suffered famine, there was hope that they would live to eat again. For those who suffered sickness, there was hope that they would be cured. But, for those who died, all hope was gone. The grave wrote final overall the hopes of humankind. It was in the arena of death that Jesus broke the back of Satan. The miracles of resuscitation are important aspects of the kingdom ministry of Jesus.Death was the last bastion of rule for Satan. It was his most powerful and feared weapon. It was… Click To Tweet
The Widow’s Son: Luke 7.11-17
Nain was about twenty-five miles from Capernaum. As Jesus was traveling toward Nain with his disciples he met a burial procession. Moved with compassion for the mother of the dead boy, he touched the coffin and spoke to the young man. To the surprise of the processional, the dead boy sat up and spoke. When Jesus spoke the rule of God into the arena of death, its power was broken. Into the coldness and finality of this widow’s life, Jesus brought the warmth and compassion of the Kingdom.
The Daughter of Jairus: Mark 5.21-24, 35-43
Jairus was the ruler of the local synagogue. He had been faced with the illness of his twelve-year-old daughter. He sought Jesus for help. On the way to the home of Jairus, Jesus paused and healed a woman who had been hemorrhaging for as long as Jairus’ daughter had been alive. As Jairus, Jesus, and his disciples were returning with Jairus to his home, he was greeted with the tragic news that his daughter had died. The pause for compassion to the hemorrhaging woman had been costly. The servants told Jairus that there was no longer any need for Jesus to come to his house. Death had shattered all the aspirations and optimism of Jairus’ family. His girl was dead. It was final!
One difficulty we have as Westerners some 2,000 years after the stories of Scripture is the two millenniums of Christian tradition. We stand on the positive side of Easter. We no longer see death with the same eyes that the people before the resurrection of Jesus saw death. We see death as a door to the hereafter, an entrance into the presence of a loving parent with whom we will have fellowship forever. Struggle for a moment to let your Christian understanding of death be temporarily modified. Look at death as it was before the resurrection of Jesus. It was final. No hope, for life itself had gone. Stand for a moment in the graveyard of the ancient past and see a father bury his only daughter of twelve, dead before life had had its fullest expression. Comprehend the agonizing note of finality wrapped in the shrouds of death as you adjust to the cold hard fact that your only daughter was gone with no promise of ever seeing her again. Feel the emptiness, the void, the hollow, vacant feeling that Jairus must have felt when he heard the word that his daughter was dead. Dead must have struck his ears like the blow of a hammer. She’s dead; don’t trouble the teacher any longer. Depression was already setting in.
Jesus, on the other hand, had a different view. He began to change the atmosphere around him. He sent everyone outside the girl’s room except his small team and her mother and father. He spoke to the dead, lifeless body and life came rushing back like a torrent of water. Victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat. Death had been conquered with the rule of God. Jesus had come into the enemy’s camp and abolished his greatest weapon.
Jesus was on the attack, out to plunder the strong man’s house. He drove out demons; stilled storms; healed the sick; cursed the unfruitful; fed the hungry; and threw death back into the pit. The victory over the grave was the final blow. It was a foretaste of the ultimate stroke of victory when Jesus was raised from the dead by the powerful rule of God.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The writers of the Gospels do not present Jesus as some kind of victim being led to slaughter. He was the conquering one who submitted to the cross so he could ascend to the throne. The death of Jesus was not the end. Satan may have thought he had won. But he did not. The death of Jesus was only a means to his final victory over Satan, his resurrection. Jesus never announced his death without announcing his resurrection (Matt. 16.21; 17.22-23; 20.17-19; Mark 8.31-33.; Luke 9.22).
The cosmic overtones of war and judgment are all there in the cross: darkness at a strange hour, rocks splitting, an earthquake, people coming out of the graveyards. The war had been fought and Satan had lost.The resurrection of Jesus assures, confirms, and completes the victory of the kingdom of God over… Click To Tweet
The resurrection of Jesus assures, confirms, and completes the victory of the kingdom of God over the kingdom of Satan. It is for this very reason that the resurrection is at the very heart of the message of the early church. It was the final authoritative announcement that God had won the battle and the firstfruits of the age to come had arrived. Paul insisted that there was no Christianity apart from the resurrection (1 Cor. 15.14, 17). It was a decisive event in history. If Jesus had not been brought back from the tomb, Satan would have indeed been stronger than God.
Death has been somewhat romanticized in Western Christianity. It is often seen as a sweet release provided by a loving Father who gently calls us home to be with him. Not so with the early Christians! They saw death as an enemy, a work of Satan to destroy them. Paul told the Corinthians that death was the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15.26). It was last chronologically and last because it was the most powerful stronghold of Satan. The author of Hebrews sums it up: “through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2.14).
The kingdom ministry of Jesus can plainly be seen in his words and works. His ministry over demons, sickness, nature, and death are models for his followers to pursue. The kingdom of God is more than a theology to establish; it is a life to be lived.
Our job as believers is to carry his word and his works into this present evil age. We should continue to be trained and sensitive, watch for what the Father is doing, and keep on teaching his word and doing his works.
|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.
- When was the last time you took charge of the weather? Do you believe that you can talk to the weather when it is threatening? What results would be possible?
- In what way does your life portray that you live with less than the abundant life that comes with the rule of God?
- How do you think that Jesus might respond to you when you show great promise and fall short of producing what the kingdom should produce through your life?
- How does living on the positive side of Easter taint our view of death?
- What do you think would happen if you prayed and someone came back from the dead?
- How does the resurrection change your view of the finality of death?
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.