Friday, January 9, 2009

The demonized boy - Copley

Please read Mark 9:14-29. The best book on how to deal with the demonic is of course the Bible. That which happened in the Gospels and Epistles is going on today. Jesus came into a faithless culture (on the most part), we also live in a faithless culture. A half century ago a friend of mine was in seminary. He said at that time America was a "Christian nation" in principle. He said today America is an agnostic nation that houses some frustrated Christians. Dr. Mark Bubeck said "The church of Jesus Christ will never experience revival until they confront the enemy." Many pastors and laymen fear the enemy and have the mistaken idea that to leave him alone is the best policy. We can never make a deal with the devil, he is anything but a gentleman. Failure to warn the sheep of a ravaging wolf is simply to fatten them up for the slaughter. As with the Gerasence demoniac, we see the demonic desire to attack their victim's humanity. In the case of this boy the attacks had been happening since childhood, a grim notice that children are not immune to demonic activity. The boy is described variously as having an evil spirit (or a spirit of dumbness), seize him, being a lunatic and being very ill. The symptoms include muteness (his normal state) as opposed to his convulsions, when he screams, and deafness, falling (being dashed) to the ground, foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth, stiffening or, sudden screaming, and being mauled. The demon scarcely leaves him, so that he gets very little rest from the attacks, the goal of which appears to be the death of the boy. While the symptoms are epileptic in nature, the condition goes beyond epilepsy. It could either be that the demon took advantage of an existing case of epilepsy, or else it brought those symptoms with it. The disciples' command is refused by the demon: claiming Jesus' authority does not guarantee instant deliverance. The disciples had previously been given authority over demons, and had already been casting them out. Possibly there were relying on their own resources rather than Christ. Whatever the reason, they are defeated and frustrated. Even the boy's father sees this, and doubts Jesus ability. When the boy sees Jesus, he is thrown to the ground in a series of convulsions. Jesus, not immediately rebuking the spirit, asks the boy's father how long this has been happening, and the father expresses his doubt. Jesus reminds him that He is fully able, but the father has to appropriate Jesus' ability by faith. The responsibility for failure belongs to the father, not Jesus. In some way, the faith of the father (or the parents?) may be important in delivering (and protecting?) children. Fortunately, Jesus is not looking for perfected faith, only genuine faith. The man expresses his honest faith; it exists, but he needs help. Jesus not only wants the boy relieved, he wants the father saved. Thus the brief delay. With the father's confession, Jesus "rebukes" the spirit, just as He rebuked a fever )Luke 4:39) and a storm, (Luke 8:24). He used two commands 1. Come out, and 2. do not re-enter. There is no need to use the demon's name-He identifies it by the symptoms ("You deaf and dumb spirit"). The boy has a final convulsion, the departing demon's last attempt to harm him, and lays "as one dead". Jesus however, picks him up to show that he is alive. Afterward the disciples question Jesus on their failure. His answer possibly indicates that there is a certain class or type of demon which can only be controlled by prayer, and He rebukes the disciples for the quality (poverty) or their faith, not the quantity. He teaching of reliance on prayer (the word fasting also is found in early and late Greek texts) indicates both that the disciples had relied on themselves and that full control of the demonic realm belongs to God alone. The prayer He refers to is not a particular form or ritual of prayer, but a life characterized by prayer and possibly, persistent prayer in the face of the demon's refusal to leave. Here we see Jesus' exasperation with the disciples, which coincides with Mark's theme of discipleship failure. The whole theme can be traced throughout Mark's gospel, and is encouraging to us today because the same disciples who failed Jesus on a regular basis were used of Him to turn the world upside down. That means there is hope for you and me. We need to understand warfare in order to protect our families. As a father I need to pray a "hedge of protection" around my family every day. I also need to cry out to God, in faith, on behalf of each of my children. Job offered a sacrifice for his children. We must offer the sacrifice of prayer, praise and fasting for ours.

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