Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon Summary Ė February 6, 2000
Mark 1:29-39 [NIV] As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simonís mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, 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. 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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else óto the nearby villages óso I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
You will recall the very popular commercial from a number of years ago for E.F. Hutton Financial Services. Their jingle was very catchy. "When E.F. Hutton speaks everyone listens." So what did they have to say? The idea was clever. The experts at E.F. Hutton had the inside track on financial investment information. Therefore, everyone would stop and listen to what Hutton had to say.
When Jesus spoke, one group in particular was silenced. Here is a story that captures our attention because it tells of miraculous healings done by our Savior. Jesus is in the company of James and John. Following a period of time in the synagogue, the three traveled to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers who lived by the Sea of Galilee where Jesus first met them and asked them to follow him. The mother of Simon Peterís wife was sick in bed with a fever. When Jesus arrived with James and John, Jesus was summoned by the two bothers to go to her. Miraculously, all Jesus did was take her by the hand and help her get up. The fever left her immediately. In this small fishing community the word spread quickly that Jesus was there and before long, as the text tells us, the entire town was at the door seeking the healing hand of Jesus. But this group included more than those who were sick with some kind of ordinary ailment. Individuals who were demon possessed were also lined up at the door. The text goes on to tell us that he healed many kinds of diseases. But when it came to those who were demon possessed, something very different happened. The demons were silenced. They could not speak, because they knew Jesus! The demons knew Jesus. Jesus drove out the demons by not letting them speak. His word had command over them!
What I find remarkable about this story is that the demons knew who Jesus was. Imagine being possessed by a demon and heading over to Simon and Andrewís home only to learn that Jesus was there. Being demon possessed means that the power of Satan had a hold of you. This isnít the flu, or cancer, or arthritis. This is a case of "the devil made me do it."
During my sophomore year at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, my roommate Chris told me about real cases of demon possession. I didnít really believe that such things actually existed. Chrisís dad was a missionary in Madagascar all the while Chris was growing up. Casting out demons was a regular part of the worship ritual. Chris recalled many times when he would watch an individual convulsing in some strange manner, speaking wildly, and acting as if something had overtaken their body. His dad would speak these words, "In the Name of Jesus" and continue with a litany of commands that would free these people of the demons in their lives. Chris was not making this up; his fatherís experience was real. I have only one experience in my life that seemed like I was in the presence of a person who was demon possessed. It was not something like Hollywood would portray, but it was like the phenomena my friend Chris had told me about. I was directing a Lutheran camp in Illinois and I was summoned to a campsite where one of the Junior Staff was in some kind of a bizarre trance. I used the words that Chris had shared with me, the words his father used in casting out demons. I began by saying, "In the name of Jesus". Immediately, I had the attention of this young man. It seemed to break the trance. I continued with commands that Chris had shared with me. Soon this young man seemed to be back to normal. Was he demon possessed? I donít know, but it felt like it. There was power in the name Jesus. When the presence of Jesus was announced, the odd trance-like behavior subsided.
The text states: Jesus would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. The Greek word for speak does not literally mean to speak; it has a more specific meaning. It means making a sound without understanding. One of the definitions of the Greek word is babble. In other words voice of the demons was a voice of chatter, possessing a person by the power of making a noise that could not be understood. The voice of the demon is clever; it overpowers. The babbling double talk of the devil betrays oneís own sense of logic and gradually they become possessed. "In the Name of Jesus," confronts the evil one, and the lie can no longer speak!
Did you ever have to put your hand on the Bible and swear to tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth Ö SO HELP YOU GOD? This courtroom ritual is the very act of casting out a demon. When you put youíre hand on the Bible, you are inviting in the very truth of God to be upon your lips. If you want to lie, or deceive it become very difficult to do when you make an oath before God. This is not to say that everyone who puts his or her hand upon the Bible is telling the truth. You can put your hand on the Bible and lie, but I believe one knows what the truth is in their heart when they stand before God.
"Jesus delivered people from demonic forces by the power of God. His authoritative command sufficed. The same power of God's Word and God's Holy Spirit have been passed on through Jesus Christ to every believer. Therefore, Christians should not engage in the foolish behavior of the Sons of Sceva (see Acts19:13); i.e., practicing in the occult act of exorcism. There is no need to play spiritual and psychological games with the enemy. Cast out demons by the power and authority of Jesus Christ. To His name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings." [see: http://www.ghaone.org/epistles/exorcism.htm]
"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask any thing in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14 - NKJV.
The use of the Name of Jesus Christ was meant for sacred purposes. However, the use of our Saviorís name as a curse or as profanity is on the increase. Walk into any school today, elementary through high school and you will hear the name of Christ used frequently but not in prayer. On a daily basis one can hear the name of our Lord taken in vain be it music, movies, radio, TV, the workplace, and in the home. Is this some devilish strategy to so pollute the name of Jesus that it no longer has spiritual power? Is this some subtle way the devil wants to regain power over the name of Jesus?
In our world today, our contemporary society, there are many voices of influence and persuasion. The reality in which we live today, may not be our own reality but some reality thrust upon us by cyberspace or the latest fad. We live in constant danger of being defined not by what we believe, but by the way outside forces impinge upon us. [see discussion in Patrick Henry. THE IRONIC CHRISTIAN'S COMPANION. P. 169-172]
When the folk in the coastal town along the shore of Galilee heard that Jesus was at the home of Simon Peter and Andrew. They came for the touch of the Messiah. Jesus spoke and even the demons listened. Jesus did not use trickery or magic. He did not try to use words that people could not understand. Jesus spoke to the heart of each person. He told them to seek the truth and that the truth would free them. We can find the same kind of health and well being that these folks found from Jesus. The healing of our body, mind, soul and heart comes when we let Jesus into our life. When we call upon the name of Jesus he will come in and the demons that want to get hold of our life miraculously leave.
Patrick Henry. THE IRONIC CHRISTAINíS COMPANION. New York: Riverhead Books,