When I was younger, one of the things that I enjoyed doing were my LAMDA verse and prose exams. On the day of the exam, I had to give my best ever performance. I aimed to execute everything I’d rehearsed to elevate my interpretation of each piece. Unfortunately, there are people who also treat church as a performance whilst failing to consider why they’re engaging in certain activities.
“Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are— the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.”
(Luke 4:31-37 NKJV)
I imagine that Jesus would have been a skilled orator. Yet again, we see that that those listening are “astonished” by what He shares. In Luke 2:47, the astonishment was centred around His thought-provoking questions and answers; here, however, the focus is on how authoritatively He presents His message. Have you ever struggled to share something with passion or conviction because you hadn’t ‘bought into’ what you were saying? I have. Jesus wholeheartedly believed in what He was sharing.
Truth offends those who are accustomed to lies.
Although we aren’t privy to the content of His message, it’s clear that at least one person was rattled by what He shared: the demon. It subsequently makes an impossible request and asks two questions – all of which are duly ignored by Jesus. What’s striking is that it feels attacked in a way that (presumably) isn’t shared by the rest of the congregation. If Jesus had preached a ‘soft’ message, or even an unbiblical one, then the demon would have sensed a kindred spirit. Its irritation stems from the fact Jesus’ words have cut deep.
In Saying What Others Don’t Want To Hear, I highlighted the need for you to share difficult messages. This passage demonstrates Jesus speaking authoritatively to both the congregation and the demon. I haven’t knowingly encountered a demon, but I can imagine that such an outburst during His sermon could have caused Jesus to feel intimidated. The human part of Him may have been tempted to retract what He said to get out of a sticky situation. That’s not what happens. The final statement the demon makes (and indeed its questions) betray an understanding that light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Your boldness brings liberty to those in bondage.
The frightening thing about what the demon has to say is that it seems to have ‘claimed’ the man. It uses ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ as though it and the man are now one. Interestingly, it uses the singular pronoun (rather than continuing with the plural) when it declares its understanding of who Jesus is. Why not say ‘we know who you are?’ For me, this is significant because it suggests that whatever demons a person has can alter/prevent their appreciation of the true character of Christ. Therefore, it’s vital that you dare to speak with authority so said demons aren’t made to feel comfortable.
- Fact check – it’s easy to share something boldly simply because you think it’s true. I’ve happily shared things that seemed right, but I later learned weren’t biblically sound. Do your research, folks.
- Keep it short – Jesus didn’t get into a discussion or argument regarding the demon’s questions. Whilst each situation is different, don’t feel obliged to convince others of everything you believe if they’re determined to misunderstand you (or in this case, if their intentions aren’t pure).
- Be consistent – verse 37 states that the people present shared this experience far afield. Don’t pick and choose which messages you want to preach with authority… do so, always.
The demon could have been removed way before Jesus arrived if that congregation had been exposed to people who ministered with authority, not on autopilot. No aspect of church should be a performance. Least of all the sermon. Scripture can have a powerful impact on others when you truly believe in what you’re sharing.