More Dangerous than Demons

There is a force in our times more dangerous than demons. Fortunately, Jesus demonstrated how to mount a defense against it.

The gospel writer, Mark, is a writer after my own heart. He’s like the Hemingway of the good news of Jesus. To the point. No backstory. Jump us right into the action of Jesus’ ministry.

If you read the first chapter of Mark in one sitting, you’ll be struck by the repeated use of the word, “immediately” or “straight away.” In fact, Mark uses this word over 40 times – seventy percent of the times it’s used in the entire New Testament.

It gives his gospel a sense of urgency, the idea that the ministry of Christ burst onto the scene. While the birth of the Messiah was long awaited (so long many of His people had given up waiting), once He began His work, everything moved faster than anyone ever anticipated.

Immediately upon His baptism, God announces His pleasure with His Son.

Immediately after His baptism, Jesus is lead into the wilderness and tempted by Satan.

Immediately at His call, Simon, Andrew, James, and John followed Him.

Immediately Jesus began teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

Immediately an unclean spirit accosted Him – was rebuked and cast out.

Immediately He entered Simon’s house and healed Simon’s mother.

The immediacy of Mark’s gospel and the power and authority Jesus displayed as He began His work remind me of a verse in 2 Samuel 5:20 NRSV “So David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. He said, “The Lord has burst forth against my enemies before me, like a bursting flood.” Therefore that place is called Baal-perazim.” (Baal-perazim means the Lord of bursting forth or in some translations breaking through.)

Jesus burst into ministry with power to draw followers, power to resist temptation, power over demons, power over disease, and unprecedented authority to teach God’s Word because He was the living Word.

At last! Here is One who can free us! Here is the One who can save!

We spend a lot of energy in the church talking about spiritual warfare. Praying against demons and powers and disease. And we should do these things, but it’s interesting to me that it wasn’t demons or diseases that drove Jesus to desolate places.

When Jesus healed Simon’s mother, that evening “the whole city was gathered together at the door.” Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, and commanded the demons not to speak.

But the crowd. The crowd of humans was a pressing factor in Jesus rising early while it was still dark and going to a desolate place to seek His Father. Here is where He finds the strength to resist the will of the crowd because when Simon finds Him and says, “Everyone is looking for you,” Jesus replies that they should move on to the next towns to keep preaching.”

Next we see Jesus healing a leper and commanded him not to speak to anyone but unlike the demons who are silenced at Jesus’ command, the healed leper talks freely so that Jesus “could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places,”

Pressing crowds and wagging tongues. We would be wise to devote more prayer to these. Demons are silenced at a word from our Lord. Diseases are healed at His touch. But the mobs and mouths are another story – they drive Jesus to seek His Father and to pull away to desolate places.

Of course, Jesus could have dispersed the crowds and He could have silenced human tongues, but God has a unique relationship with humans above all His other creations. He chooses to partner with us in the building of His kingdom – hence the calling of fisherman and others who responded as Christ did – with immediate obedience.

But He is patient with all – even with those who do not respond, bearing with those who resist Him, wanting all to come to salvation He delays judgment. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV says this: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Yes, we should pray against spiritual enemies, hostile forces in the demonic realm, and against disease. But, we should also pray about how we reacted when the crowds press in, how we respond to the chatter of wagging tongues, and we would be wise to routinely seek desolate places to pray.

Does the crowd press in, my friend? Does the crowd pressure you with temptations of every sort? Do wagging tongues and talking heads weary your mind and fray the ends of your soul?

Step away with Jesus to a desolate place and be silent, listening for our Father’s voice. He is the whisper who will guide us through the madding crowd.

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Pam Halter says:

    Yes – amen. Thank you, Lori!

  2. Lu-Ann says:

    As always, you’ve hit the point straight on! Thanks for continuing to direct our thought on what counts. Keep writing friend, you make a huge difference!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been learning about this battle for the last couple of years as we have accepted various roles in the church and myself in the school. God has been so patient in this teaching, helping as I have failed and given me the strength to get back up to try again. My response is my responsibility. I don’t give anyone power over me and allow them to determine how I will respond. Thanks for the reminder that when situations arise to immediately go to Jesus….spending alone time with God is so critical to growing and maturing.

  4. Connie Wohlford says:

    AMEN! Thank you, Lori, for your thought-provoking post.