Luke 4:33-35 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. (NIV)
Jesus had already encountered the devil. After His baptism and before His ministry started, the Saviour met Satan to challenge his evil authority, and 'put him on notice' that his wicked rule over people had no legitimacy and would be crushed. That desert encounter (Luke 4:1-13) set the scene for the rest of His earthly ministry: culminating in the cross (where Satan hoped to win), and then the resurrection (where Jesus demonstrated His victory).
In today's passage, Satan uses a demon to mock Jesus in public. This demon behaved like a virus in taking over the personality of the man and speaking through his mouth. Everybody who had come to worship at the synagogue could hear as the dignified atmosphere was shattered by the shouting. Jesus (a common name in those days) was clearly identified as 'Jesus of Nazareth', and His Divine identity as 'the Holy One of God' was broadcast. But the fearful demon also knew that Jesus had the authority to destroy him.
It was a challenge. What would Jesus do? In a simple sentence, Jesus commanded the voice to be silent, and the demon to come out of the man. The demon was powerless against Jesus; there was no physical activity from the Master, just the word of command. Satan's agent had to obey but, like a wild youth, sought to do some damage as he left. Even that was ineffective for although the man fell to the ground, he was totally unharmed.
So many people misunderstand the purpose of Jesus' earthly life. They think He came to set a good example ... to show people how to love each other ... to provide a template for good citizenship in the Sermon on the Mount. There is some truth in those ideas but they are not the reason He came. He had come to deal with evil: as Heb 2:14-15 says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
If you are trusting in Jesus, you have accepted the voice of the One who dethrones the authority of Satan. God's Word has power to unmask the lies of the devil; and the Name of Jesus is authority enough for the tempter to be dismissed. There is no longer any need to be terrorised by the 'oppressor of souls'. You do not have to live under his curse and there is no need to fear the grave because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. Our responsibility is to live in confidence that Satan does not have ultimate power over us; and to announce that Jesus is the only one who can release people from the grip of evil.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord. Thank You that Jesus has demonstrated His full authority over Satan. Forgive me when I accept the devil's lies and live without trusting in Jesus. Please cleanse me from all my sin: I reject Satan's words and works in my life. Help me to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and help me to announce the freedom which Jesus won through His death and resurrection. In His Name. Amen.