We join Jesus, Peter, James, John and Andrew as they head into town. It is the Sabbath and they are going to the temple. The town in is for a treat!
When Jesus came to the temple He didn’t sit back, He went to “work.” He came to teach. I’m not sure how their meetings progressed. Here in America, I don’t know if He would have been given the chance to teach. Our services are pretty regimented. We all come into one place. Usually there is an opening prayer. We sing, either corporately or listen to prescribed performances/choirs. Often we have some form of communion. Many take up an “offering”/collection. Our speaker of the day presents a message. We may sing another song. We close in prayer. Then we all go home.
I have been Googling the Synagogue service and found some interesting sites. One such site is Bible History.com. One of the materials sited by the author of the article on Bible History.com is “Manners and Customs of the Bible.” This site states that there each Sabbath seven people read from the scriptures. I have learned that readings came from the Torah and the Law of the Prophets. Specific members of the congregation are allowed to read from these two writings with the priest and Levites standing beside them to ensure correct pronunciation. The readers were then allowed to expound on the scriptures read. This is how Jesus was able to teach in the Synagogue service. He volunteered or was chosen as a reader.
When Jesus read to the people and expounded on the reading they were blown away! He taught better than the scribes and Pharisees. We understand why; He wrote the book. But the people in attendance that day saw a common man. One with no religious degree or legal training. Someone who associated with fishermen. Yet here He stood, opening the wonders of God’s words to the people. The people had no idea who He really was or where He got His authoritative take on the scriptures.
The demons knew though. They were shaking in their shoes! They weren’t afraid to voice the truth either. They knew what He could do to them and what their future held. They knew where He came from, both physically and spiritually. “What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are- the Holy One of God” (verse 24). There wasn’t a doubt in this demon’s whole being as to Who he was dealing with.
Jesus silenced the demon immediately. It was not time for the world to have this knowledge. Jesus had just started His public ministry. He needed time to build His base of disciples, reach out to the Gentiles and Jews, and spread God’s plan of salvation before His full identity could be revealed. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jesus let the demons broadcast this information at that point in time? The Pharisees and religious leaders would have done away with Him quickly and no one would have been any the wiser.
Jesus decisive actions freed the possessed man too. This may have been a side benefit as far as the demons were concerned, but I’m certain the man’s freedom was front and center in Jesus’ mind.
Another benefit to Jesus’ actions was the crowd’s reaction. Somehow they missed the demon’s pronouncement of Who Jesus was, but they recognized the healing that just occurred. Couple that healing with the authoritative way Jesus taught and they really had something new on their hands. “He walks around with so much knowledge and authority that even the demons obey Him.” Not too many months later, the Pharisees would say it was because He was the demon’s leader; but that is a story for another time.
Lord Jesus, You were so gracious to that man. Here he was, going to “church” every week, blending into the regular congregation, and still being possessed by a demon. He was a man in serious pain and torment, hiding in plain sight. I wonder if any of his fellow synagogue attendees had any idea what was below the surface. He needed help in a big way. Had the religious leaders tried to help him before? You ended his suffering within seconds of him being identified as in need. I pray he wasn’t one of those who the demon returned to, with seven more in tow, later on
You have such perfect timing. I don’t know if identifying You in front of the crowd was one of Satan’s efforts to derail Your plan or not. He tried killing You several times already. Did he think he could be rid of You by making You known, or was the demon simply reacting out of fear? It is a good thing he can’t know the future. He knew that You came as man’s Savior but he didn’t know how that was to happen. If he did he would NEVER have prompted Judas to turn You over for crucifixion. He knows his future in general terms, because he has access to the same knowledge God has provided to us. Does he think he can affect the outcome in the end? If I were him, the closer I got to the end and the power I would be able to wield, the more terrified I would become! His increase in power truly signifies his end.
Thank You that, more than signifying his end, it marks our beginning. The beginning of Your 1,000 year reign on Earth. The total conquest of sin and death. The beginning of life without Satan slinking about with temptation in every breath. The beginning of ETERNITY with You.