The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”
“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. (John 8:48-49)
Relate: One of the craziest things I ever saw happened way back when I was in high school. I was with a youth group on a short missions trip down in New York City. Most of the time we had been working with a small church down in queens. During the daytime we were leading a sidewalk sunday school type outreach at a local park and then in the evenings we were doing painting and general repairs on the old church building they used for their services.
For our day off the twenty or so of us all headed to downtown Manhattan to do the touristy thing. We went and saw the Empire State Building, World Trade Center and other such sights. I’m sure about half of us ended up buying a watch, dvd, or other such thing from street vendors who saw us for the easy mark that we were. We were somewhere near Times Square when we passed by a street preacher shouting out to the crowd from the other side of the street. Through his megaphone he called out to us, got our attention and called us over. We crossed the street and at his direction we got in a circle and started praying. The street preacher went back to his crying out to the crowd while we began to pray in our circle. At first it was a bit awkward. Some random guy had called us over and now we are supposed to start praying right here on the sidewalk as hundreds, thousands of people are walking by? Not an easy task for a bunch of teenagers. Soon however, God showed up and started taking over that impromptu prayer meeting.
A few minutes later this street preacher called through his megaphone to another guy walking down the far side of the street. This guy also stopped and came over but he didn’t seem as happy to do so as we were. He looked much more ready to fight than to talk and the tree trunks he was wielding that some people call arms whispered to my mind that if he did start to swing things were going to get real ugly. He was walking right toward our circle and those closest to him shied away breaking the link. I kid you not, as soon as he stepped within that area we had been praying is was as if someone had punched this big man in the gut and knocked him three feet back on his butt. He rolled to one side and began throwing up. The street preacher and our youth leader (who didn’t know each other until just a few minutes back) both simultaneously came over, layed hands on this man and began praying. Soon this big tough guy was weeping like a baby.
I was there with a couple people from the church a short time later when they led this stranger in a prayer and he surrendered his life to God. They took his information and began counseling him. All this was done on the side, out of the limelight later on. I share it to say that I know for a fact that this wasn’t some setup. He was no actor. It wasn’t all just a big show. This man had truly had a demon cast out of him right before my eyes.
React: When Jesus is accused of being demon possessed He does not argue that demons are not real. He doesn’t laugh off the accusation. In truth, many other times He is very legitimately casting demons out of other people. I’ve read some modern commentators who would say things along the line of, “Jesus was simply bringing emotional healing while working within the framework and superstitions of the others of his time.” No, demons are real. Demon possession is real. I would argue that it is just as commonplace today as it had been back in His time when He was casting them out left and right. We simply put “nicer” names on it today like chemical imbalance, schizophrenia, and addiction. We try to treat it with a pill or a few counseling sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I think there might occasionally be a proper time and place for both of these, but the power of God will always trump a pill. The presence of God will always trump a few sessions on a couch talking with a stranger. All too often these alternative methods bring only limited or short term help. When God truly shows up, demons will always flee. They have to. They have no choice.
God, open my eyes. There is so much more going on in my world than what I can perceive with my five senses. Give me that sixth sense. Give me discernment. Help me to see and know and understand and participate in the warfare that is taking place all around me. Help me to avoid overlooking the spiritual nature of physical manifestations. Help me to neither ignore nor overemphasize the reality of Satan and his fallen angels who are in rebellion to You. Above all help me to understand that You are greater. Your authority over all the powers of this world, both seen and unseen, is absolute.