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When Jesus taught the people in Capernaum the initial reaction was one of amazement. They were astonished by the authority with which he taught. When he spoke he had no need to refer to famous teachers from the past to authenticate his teaching: he possessed in himself both the knowledge of God's truth and the authority to speak it.

While the people were still reeling under the impact of his authoritative presentation of truth a demon-possessed man cried out.

The evil spirit in the man was aware of the true identity of Jesus: he called him both 'Jesus of Nazareth' - a real man, and 'the Holy One of God' - God's Son. But Jesus did not want the testimony of the evil spirit. He commanded it to be quiet and come out of the man. Immediately the spirit obeyed.

Then Luke again records that the people were all 'amazed'. In our English translations the words are often the same. In the original Greek they are different. The word used here holds an element of fear or terror, even to the extent of being rendered immovable. They were completely overawed by this authority of Jesus over the evil spirit. Luke reports that this reaction was so strong that they asked (the word means kept on asking) each other 'What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out?'

In this encounter Jesus demonstrated his authority and power over evil spirits. These spirits are of the same kind as the demon powers which hold many around the world captive in fear and submission through witch-doctors and shamans.

Here in this encounter we learn that, though these spirits generate fear, there is One who is more powerful than they are, One to whom even they must submit when confronted by his command.

And it is here that we are each confronted with the questions:

      • Who is this man who has such power?
      • Who is this man who has such authority?

One who is more powerful than the demons.

One who has authority even over the feared evil spirits.

One to whom the allegiance, obedience and reverence of every created being is due: Jesus, Son of God, Lord of all.

May we each one acknowledge that he is indeed the Holy One of God. Not with the cringing fear of the demons, but with reverent, awe-filled joy, because here, in this man, God is with us, God has come to us. Here in this man we at last see and know God.

Scriptures: Luke 4:31-37; Philippians 2:10-11.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008