The Gospels – Being Present
One of the first things Jesus did after calling the four fisherman to follow him was go to the synagogue in Capernaum and teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, He taught with authority, not like the scribes (1:22 NLT). It was unlike anything they had ever heard. But not all in the crowd were amazed.
There was a man in attendance possessed by an evil spirit which could not stand being in the presence of Jesus, and cried out, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (1:24 NLT).
Jesus never allowed the testimony of demons and reprimanded the spirit at once saying, “Be quiet! Come out of the man.” (1:25 NLT). At Jesus’ order the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and came out of him, as Jesus commanded. (1:26 NLT).
The people were shocked, literally, “gripped with amazement,” (1:27 NLT), at the fact that even wicked spirits were subject to the commands of Jesus. So unsettled were the people that news of Jesus spread immediately through the region. (1:28 NLT). Without any social media, or instant messaging, within hours all of Galilee was aware of the presence of Jesus, and, almost instantly, crowds began to flock to Jesus, bringing their sick and demon possessed. (1:32 NLT).
The presence of Jesus is unsettling for evil. He is the Holy One of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and when He is present, forces of evil are discomforted, miserable, frenzied. Like a ringing in your ears that won’t quit, or the way the stomach turns in the midst of a flu virus, that’s how evil spirits feel in the presence of the holiness of Jesus.
We wonder why Christians have been so persecuted through the years and it is precisely this. When you are filled with the Spirit of the Living God, your presence shines a beacon of light on the evil around you. Everything is exposed. It is the one thing that makes demons tremble and satan furious with rage – the presence of Jesus. So they want to get rid of that which causes them pain.
The world will say they persecute Christians because they are bigots, judgmental and homophobic. Or because they undermine authority, pledging allegiance to a higher authority than a flag or a government. But these empty charges are clouds without water. True followers of Christ are the least bigoted, the most accepting, tolerant, loving, patriotic, color-blind people in the land. They live to help others, all of mankind, no matter what flag they stand under, and pray for God’s blessing.
But that’s the problem with the presence of Jesus. When He is around satan gets a burr in his saddle and can’t be comfortable again until He is gone.
But notice, Jesus didn’t shy away from demonic confrontation. He is God. He is the Authority. The people of the world are not the property of satan, they are the redeemed of God through Christ – even if they don’t know it. By His Spirit, we walk in this same authority, not sufficient in ourselves, but in Christ.
Second, people flocked to Him for help. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is healer, comforter, counselor, Lord, and friend. He is light. The world needs Jesus, and when He is present, even while evil mocks and lashes out, they will come, for they desperately seek the rest and peace found only in the presence of Jesus Christ.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 1:28-30
Dear one, be prayerful, be loving, deny yourself and be filled with the Spirit. Then, be present. Be a vessel through whom the Lord Jesus will heal the beautiful people of this broken world. Evil may well lash out against you, but do not fear, Jesus has overcome the world.