A few days ago, I mentioned that demonic encounters in the Bible are relatively undramatic. And then in today’s Bible reading, we see a very dramatic demonic manifestation with a boy who is thrown to the ground, his mouth foams, he grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. When Jesus casts out the demon, it cries out and convulses the boy’s body. (Mark 9:17-29) That’s pretty dramatic!
But as I said, demons aren’t something that Believers should be afraid of. Jesus is mighter than our enemy, and much more so than our enemy’s servants. There is never a question in Scripture who is stronger and has more authority! If God’s Holy Spirit lives in you — and He lives in all Believers — you have access to a greater spiritual force than your enemy.
So why were the Disciples unable to cast out this demon? Jesus says that sometimes they can only be driven out by prayer. (Mark 9:29) So how were the Disciples trying to drive out the demon? We don’t know, but obviously they weren’t using prayer.
Why do we so often turn to prayer as our last resort? I mean, we may do everything we can. We may ask for other people to help. And then, when we’re at our wit’s end, we turn to prayer. Why?
It goes back to our fallen nature that we inherited from our First Parents, Adam and Eve. They chose independence from God. They chose self-reliance. They chose to do things their way. And so do we, even as Believers.
Spend a few minutes today declaring your dependence on God. Remember that Jesus knew that He could do nothing on His own initiative (John 5:19). And if Jesus had to live in submission, in dependence on God, why would you think you can?
Reading through Mark 6 (today’s Bible reading) one word struck my mind: authority.
In the beginning paragraph, we see Jesus’ townspeople only seeing Jesus as “Joseph and Mary’s son”. They didn’t see Him for Who He was, so they didn’t recognize the authority He had. Neither did people recognize the authority of the prophets. Because of their lack of belief, Jesus is only able to heal a few people. (Mark 6:5)
In the next section, Jesus gave His disciples authority over unclean spirits (Mark 6:7) They went out in His authority and saw great success in their ministry. (Mark 6:13)
In the next section, we see that Herod misuses his authority and even submits to the wishes of his daughter to deliver John the Baptist’s head on a platter because he wants to save face in the presence of his guests.
In the next section, Jesus exercises His authority over the natural realm by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish to the point that over five thousand people (5000 men, plus wives and children!) eat their fill. And after all was said and done, they collected twelve baskets of leftovers!
In the next section, Jesus exercises His authority over the natural realm to walk on water. After the storm calmed, His disciples were astounded.
In the final section of the chapter, Jesus heals everyone who even touches His clothes. Why? Simply because they recognized His authority.
Do you recognize Jesus’ authority? Really?
Is Jesus able to heal and do miraculous things? Really? When was the last time you saw Him do it? Did you give Him credit for it? Or did you deep down inside think it was a coincidence or perhaps the marvels of medical science that brought it about?
I think it’s safe to say from today’s reading that the more we believe and recognize Jesus’ authority in the world around us, the more we will see His authority demonstrated in the world around us.
In today’s Bible reading, Jesus encounters a man who has been demonized by a legion of demons. The demons manifested in ways we would describe mental illness today such as self-mutilation and paranoid schizophrenia. Mental illness is real. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and it can be debilitating. In many cases, mental illness can be managed with medication. And there should be no more shame for taking antidepressants or antianxiety medications than taking statins for high cholesterol. In other words, there should be no shame in seeking medical attention for medical problems.
But this man didn’t suffer from mental illness. He suffered by being demonized. (Note: The Bible doesn’t differentiate between demonic “possession” and demonic “oppression”; it only describes someone like this man as being “demonized” or “having an unclean spirit” as this man is described. (Mark 5:2b)
We don’t know how many demons there were. The Roman army was divided into several groups of differing sizes; the legion being the largest of these groups. But there wasn’t a hard-and-fast number that comprised a “legion”. However, we do know that the legion of demons was cast into a herd of two thousand pigs. Assuming at least one demon went into each pig, that’s a lot of demons who were terrorizing this poor man!
We can thank Hollywood for portraying demons in violent, dramatic ways. But if you look at how Jesus dealt with demons, nothing like that happens. Demonized people may have violent outbursts before encountering Jesus, but the actual encounter with Jesus is markedly undramatic. Demons aren’t something that Believers should be afraid of. Greater is He Who is in us than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) Now, that’s not to say that we should go looking for them. But if we encounter them, we should simply claim the authority we have because of Whose we are.
Note that after being delivered from the legion of demons, the man tells Jesus he wants to follow Him. It’s a natural response to want to be with Jesus after such a transformation. But Jesus tells the man to go back home. Jesus wants the man to be a living testimony of what Jesus did than to simply sit at His feet and follow Him from town to town.
A big part of following Jesus is living out our deliverance from sin. And who better to live out our freedom in front of than our family and friends who have seen us at our worst as slaves to sin! In fact, separating from our lost friends and family may be the last thing we need to do when we come to faith in Christ, or become more committed to our faith in Christ. Yes, it’s important to protect ourselves from the temptations to fall back into sin, but doing so can prevent us from having the biggest impact for the Kingdom of God.
God inspired — literally breathed out — His Word so that we could be equipped to obey Him in our day-to-day lives. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) If we don’t regularly spend time in His Word, we starve our souls. Our spiritual malnutrition will result in not being adequately equipped and not having a sharp weapon for encountering the Spiritual Warfare that we will face.
This Bible Reading Plan I’m using was developed by the Navigators. Each day (five days a week), we’ll read an assigned chapter in the New Testament. The chapters are in order through a book in the Bible, but the books are not in the book order in the New Testament. In other words, we won’t start in Matthew and read straight through Revelation.
You can follow along by printing a copy of the reading plan or use the YouVersion Bible App. Just download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Other versions of the app are available, including the Web. Create a free account and search for Discipleship Journal’s 5x5x5 Reading Plan. Once you’ve subscribed, the app will track your readings. Depending on the translation you use, the App can even read out loud that day’s chapter. If you ever get behind, you can easily catch up. Given the fact that there are only five readings each week, it won’t be difficult to stay within a day or so if you just put in a little effort.
The best way to get my devotionals is to subscribe to my newsletter. Each morning we have a scheduled reading, you’ll receive an email with that day’s devotional. The easiest way to subscribe is to enter your email address below. Check your email and confirm that you want to subscribe.
Please invite your friends, family, and church to follow along as we go through the New Testament, gaining a 2020 vision for our lives and encountering God in His Word. My prayer is that as we dig into God’s Word, we’ll be transformed to be more like Jesus as we grow in a love relationship with Him.
In today’s Bible reading, there is great rejoicing by a vast multitude of people even before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords defeats the beast and his sign-performing false prophet.
Over and over, John hears the cries of God’s people, “Hallelujah!” as they praise God, hailing Jesus as the conquering King.
“After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous, because he has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and he has avenged the blood of his servants that was on her hands. A second time they said, Hallelujah! Her smoke ascends forever and ever! Then the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah! A voice came from the throne, saying, Praise our God, all his servants, and the ones who fear him, both small and great! Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself.” (Revelation 17:1-7 CSB)
How spontaneously do you respond in worship when you encounter the Word and works of God? If you are not at least occasionally staggered by the awe and wonder of God, you may need a fresh taste of Him in His greatness and majesty. Take a look at a post I wrote a few years ago.
Maybe you need to step up your game in expressing your worship outwardly. Now, this is not a plea to emotionalism, but rather to express your worship for God in a manner similar to how you worship in other contexts.