^ JESUS COMMANDING THE EVIL SPIRIT TO COME OUT OF A MAN. Since the manifestation of this evil spirit obviously caught the full attention of Jesus and somewhat of the congregation at large, the man must have been sitting close to the front of the synagogue. Otherwise, Jesus could not have heard clearly what the spirit entity was saying. This very effect, that this man was close to the front of the synagogue, is consistently and logically portrayed in cinematic films and documentaries of the account. The reason that the spirit was crying out in a loud voice was not only to gain Christ’s attention, but that of the whole congregation. Hence, as the man was sitting close to the front, we can expect him to be one of the elders or authorities in the synagogue as shown in the graphic above, just as in modern-day churches where the preachers, ministers, and other church authorities sit in the very front pews.
The popular church take on this is that a kind of village idiot that everyone knew of, came into the church, took a prominent seat, and embarrassed himself. This was not the case….
This would not be unusual, based on my experiences, that someone in the congregation, held in repute, was subject to demonic manifestation. They usually need the most help after all, as they are pretending to be spiritually whole because of their position, but really they are not. Jesus likened the church, in his words, to be like an infirmary for sinners,… not a bunch of “perfect” people who do not need God too much as they are already “redeemed.”
I witnessed this personally in a church service in Nevada years ago. A well regarded member of reputed good standing, was sitting near the front of the church. She became demonically affected when hearing “anointed” preaching by a ministry that I was associated with. She cast her head back, threw out her arms, was convulsive, and cried out, and then relieved herself with a puddle of urine on the floor. I saw all this myself as I was sitting also in the front pews across the aisle from her. The preacher ministering immediately discerned and identified the source of trouble. This effectively stopped the anointed preaching as many of her friends were offended and embarrassed, thinking the preacher was somehow responsible for this incredible scene for identifying it as demonic. We went back once again to this church to minister, but the church was Ichabod. The congregation was offended and hardened. Nothing more could be done there. The individual never got the help or deliverance that she needed to my knowledge.
This example of leading church members subject to demonic manifestation is particularly true in the modern Roman Catholic church in which several of the priesthood are pedophiles. When you also consider the fact that Christ’s enemies were the high officialdom of the Jewish religion and polity, then you can understand why false leadership is also demonic leadership. ______________________________________________
The first time that Jesus ministered in Capernaum, he became a celebrity of sorts. He started that day by being invited to speak in the synagogue. Apparently, Jesus had already created some “buzz,” especially in Nazareth and in some other quarters in Galilee. In one translation, it states that, “Jesus returned to Galilee (after his 40-day fast) as a powerful preacher. He was the talk of the whole district. When he preached in their synagogues, everyone applauded him” (The Original New Testament).
This is an interesting description. Good preachers were highly sought after in Judea. Popular preachers were near celebrity status. When a popular preacher ministered in first century Judea, the seating was completely taken up and the galleries were filled. Jewish tradition used the most extravagant terms in extolling the gift of preaching. No preacher in the Jewish system of worship required “ordination.” In fact, any male person who was Jewish had the right to speak to the congregation. This is why that Jesus, and later, the disciples and Paul, had the liberty to speak and preach in the respective synagogues that they visited. This is totally unlike the Gentile Christian church in which you must have the respective mark, or characteristics of the sect or denomination to minister therein. Indeed, the Gospel would have never been spread or preached under a Gentile polity and a New Testament recorded.
The only prerequisites to preach then were the necessary qualifications: mental and moral. The mental qualities of the preacher was that he knew his Scriptures well. The moral capability of the speaker was a mandate, given the emphasis on moral behavior as dictated by the Mosaic Law, and the traditions of the Rabbis, or Elders. There were few “suspect” characters.
When a preacher was noted to give a good discourse, the congregation applauded and approved by exclaiming the Hebrew equivalent of “Bravo!,” which is, בראבו!
As an aside, have you ever heard any preaching in popular Christianity that merited a “Bravo?”
PREACHING, TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY
We don’t know exactly what Jesus preached about in Capernaum that Sabbath day. It is unlikely that he spoke from the same text, Isaiah 61:1-2a, as he did in his first address in Nazareth. That nearly got him killed. Whatever he did preach though, the people were astounded, as Jesus preached with authority. The Gospel of Mark tells about this in contrast with how the scribes preached. The scribes apparently, never took an authoritative stand. They usually quoted from an ancient Rabbi or a rabbinical school or authority. The congregants were to assess their words and make up their own minds in “reforming” their behavior. No decisions to make were forced on the people by the scribes such as turning away from sin. There was no hour of decision such as the decision to repent and amend their actions.
Paul described gospel preaching to Timothy as “reproving, rebuking, and exhorting.” This kind of preaching would have certainly stood out in comparison with the scribes. Reproving, rebuking, and exhorting signifies that Jesus would have held his hearers to a high degree of accountability to his message of God’s very inspired Word by the Holy Spirit… not some reference to a dead personage of a rabbi.
Furthermore, because of this mode of preaching, Jesus was already reputed to be a powerful preacher. This means that Jesus also spoke “under the Anointing,” or in an inspired fashion under the power of the Spirit of God. This is implied by his first sermon in Nazareth where he quoted from Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord has Anointed me to preach…” I cover this very topic in an earlier blog… “Brother Brown, the Lord’s Coming, and a Famine for the Word of the Lord…” You can peruse this at this link here to get a better understanding of the ministry of the Anointed Word:
Throughout his ministry, Jesus spoke under this Anointing. He confirmed this in John 6:63.
THE UNCLEAN SPIRIT
Jesus was preaching in the synagogue and after a bit, was interrupted by a spiritually afflicted man, or demonized individual. The man cried out loudly to call attention that Jesus was the Messiah by declaring one of his Messianic appellations that He “was the Holy One of God.” The Demoniac also pointed out that Jesus was “to destroy them,” meaning the evil spirits and their hierarchy.
Jesus knew what to do.
He quickly took authority over the situation and commanded the evil spirit to be quiet, or the literal meaning of the phrase, “be gagged.” Gagging is binding the mouth with material in which no more sound can be uttered. Then, Jesus told the evil spirit to “come out of him.” The result was the devil came out of the man violently by crying out, or screaming, and casting or throwing the man down to the floor.
The man however, was not hurt. He was normal and sound.
Note that first, the evil spirit had to be “bound,” or his activity was ceased to operate. Then, when the devil cannot work and is bound, he can be “cast out.” Jesus referred expressly to the same in Matthew 12:29. The mode of deliverance is usually the same. The devils cry out in a loud voice (Acts 8:7), and rents (the use of this word in the KJV is an interesting selection; it means to “open by making a rending or tearing,”… this is exactly what happens in such a situation both literally and spiritually) the person in a violent convulsion, and the person falls down in a heap.
The accounts in the Gospels state that the audience was amazed… not because there was an unclean or evil spirit present… but that Jesus had the “word of authority” to cast out the spirit.
The hearers that day witnessed a three-fold ministry of the Spirit. Not only did the hearers hear new teaching; but a new authority or way of speaking; and finally, an authority to cast out evil spirits effectively, with only his word. Jewish religionists had never seen this on this wise. Jewish exorcism usually required incantations and ritual with minimal results. Other exorcist types used magic in which amulets or talismans were implemented to drive away bad spirit phenomena. This practice ended up in even more spiritual bondage for the practitioners and their clientele, as the level of superstition and fear reached greater proportions than before.
To summarize further, Jesus dealt immediately and effectively with this manifestation and cast the devil out, and delivered the man in an instantaneous and powerful demonstration of authority by his word. This incident caused amazement and wonder in the congregation and of course, increased their interest with such a sign or wonder.
And, this was only the Sabbath morning service.
The rest of the day in Capernaum was perhaps, even more remarkable.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.