And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the age that is passing away a man with PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS. He made it is business to Make this present evil Age Great Again. And no one could HINDER him anymore, not even with a SEX SCANDAL, for he had often been bound with LAWSUITS and REGULATIONS, but he wrenched the REGULATIONS apart, and he broke the LAWYERS in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the POLITICAL HACKS and in the PENTHOUSE he was always TWEETING out and cutting himself with LIES. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
Can you believe it? He actually ran and fell before him!
Somehow, I can’t believe that you believe it, but he did! He ran and fell before him! Stunning, I know!
But wait! There’s more….
And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you ARROGANT, and SHAMELESS, POLITICAL AMBITION!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is THE LARGEST INAUGURATION CROWD IN HISTORY, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of PAGAN HORDES was feeding there on the blood of the saints and the poor, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the PAGAN HORDES; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the ARROGANT, and SHAMELESS, POLITICAL AMBITION came out and entered the PAGAN HORDES; and the ARMED CROWDS, numbering about two thousand, rushed into the CAPITOL BUILDING like a FRAT CLUB and someone took a COUNTRY CRAP on the desk.
Some parts of this story are easy to believe. Other parts are all but impossible.
Which parts do you find hard to believe???
I bet right about now (assuming you are reading this far) you are dividing your mind up into political categories. Part of you is digging in your political/emotional heels WHILE you read this sentence, and is already pledging your allegiance to one political party or the other.
But I wonder – I hope – there is at least part of you reading this far feeling a bit more disturbed by the cavalier latitude I take with Scripture. Is this “prophet” being faithful to God and his Word? For THAT is actually a far, far, far MORE important matter. (Just sayin’.)
Of those who are taking the Bible seriously here, I ask again: Can you believe it? This man comes running to Jesus, bowing low and begging mercy?
I NEED this. I think you do too.
There is a divide here in this passage that does not cut down the middle of American politics, at least not along the dotted line you find in “the media.” Look again. Which parts of this story are hard to believe, and which parts are easy? What makes the difference?
Can you see it? Can you see the invisible line running the Jesus way through this story?
The hard parts to believe are the humble bits. It is so very easy to believe the proud and arrogant bits, but the humility is almost impossible.
Let’s pick up the Bible again.
And when they came TO the DISCIPLES, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately ALL THE CROWD OF GOD’S PEOPLE, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And AN ABBA from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought MY (EXODUS 4:22) SON to you, for he has a SPIRIT that makes him MUTE. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes RIGID. So, I asked YOUR DISCIPLES to cast it out, and THEY COULD NOT.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation OF GOD’S PEOPLE, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the (EXOD. 4:22) SON to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked this nameless son’s ABBA, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “FROM HIS YOUTH (EVER SINCE EXODUS!). And it has OVER THE COURSE OF HISTORY cast him into fire and into TRIBULATIONS & EXILE to destroy him. But IF you can do anything, have compassion on us and help ISRAEL.” And Jesus said to him, “‘IF you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the ABBA of the child cried out IN HUMILIATION and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that ISRAEL came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the (EXOD. 4:22) SON was like a (3-DAY DEAD OR BAPTIZED) corpse, so that most of them said, “He is DEAD.” But Jesus (THE SPIRIT BEARER) took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but HUMBLE prayer.”
Oh boy! Here we go again taking cavalier latitude with Scripture!
Disclaimer: Okay, I will freely admit that the tweaking I have done with Scripture injects it with MY interpretation, and I acknowledge that with humility on my part, thus pray on it before you blindly accept it. But I ask you to take it seriously too, reason with it, and see if God’s Word doesn’t illuminate your world afresh as you give me a hearing. You are perfectly free to reject it afterward, and even I don’t regularly read Scripture this way.)
St. Mark mentions demons numerous times in his gospel, but he features two for special attention (chapters 5 and 9) which you have just read about in this post. As near as I can tell, they are essentially the same demon (or from the same family), but flying two different flags. The first one flies the flag of Rome, the second one the flag of Israel. In both cases, the demon afflicts these people with pride and contempt, with lording it over others. We might call these/this demon(s) “Them & Us.”
With emphasis on the Us.
If you were a young Jew of about fightin’ age the first time you read Mark’s gospel, and if you thought Mark was recruiting you into a zealous, rebel force to defend the temple against Rome as you read it, you would be confronted first with the Roman demon. And you rightly would recognize this demon cannot be bound with shackles and chains, though many have tried, and you would rightly see that his way of life is of the Age passing away (like living in the tombs) rather than awaiting The Age to Come (eternal life). You would look out your door and see Legion, alright, and all of that would ring true easy enough, but to see Rome come and bow down before Jesus, pleading mercy, would shock you. And if you in anyway were to view Jesus as God’s chosen Messiah, you would want to see Rome so humbled before him. Or, turning that thought around the other way, if Rome were to come beg mercy from him, he must surely be great and chosen of God!
(And we must recall that the Emperor Constantine in fact baptized the empire just a few centuries later!)
But when you, the young Jewish rebel recruit, get to that second, nameless demon, it would subtly sneak up on you that Mark’s Jesus has prophetically cast all of Israel in his little proph-O-drama. Everyone on scene is Jewish, and we have a father, an abba to this boy, who comes with his demands for salvation. The boy is literally a son of the father. (Let me say that again: he is the SON of the FATHER – literally – and you meet another character in chapter 15 who goes by this name: Barabbas – bar Abbas, and he is a proud rebel too.)
Maybe we could call this demon (or family of demons) “the love of power” or the POWERS family of demons and watch Jesus pit against them the power of love (or more specifically, power of humble prayer). IF you want to be rid of the one infesting you, you must go humbly ask your ABBA to get rid of him, because THIS KIND ONLY COMES OUT WITH PRAYER.
Back to chapter 9, though, Jesus is casting characters in his apocalyptic proph-O-drama, and this Son of the Father (otherwise nameless in this text) stands in for all of Israel. It helps if you recall that the Bible speaks of Israel as God’s son on various occasions, the very first time being found in Exodus 4, where Israel is oppressed by the Pharaoh of Egypt and God tells him, “Hey, Buck-o, that’s my son you are picking on.” If you recall, the God of Israel then proceeds to kick some pagan butt with 10 horrible plagues, culminating in a visit to Pharaoh’s own son by the Death Angel. All of these things are stage props and backdrops in Jesus’s proph-O-drama.
So, what does this demon plaguing the son of the Father have to do with the Legion?
They both love power. The one bearing the flag of Israel may seem small and powerless, but he still loves power and craves it. If you just have FAITH, you know that eventually God is going to kick the butt of pagan empire, and when Our God, who is bigger than your god, finally does it, we are going to dance and gloat with delight!
Problem is… until now, no one has noticed that Legion lives in the tombs and the son of the Father is as good as dead. Neither of these will flourish in God’s Reign and the Age to Come. Both are parasites at best. Principalities and powers out of whack!
But it should be a shock to your system also that according to this apocalyptic proph-O-drama, the son of the Father (Israel at large) has an unclean spirit!
Hmmm… I asked above, “Which parts are hard to believe?” At that moment in this post, my readers were reacting to the post digging heels into politics and emotion and dividing up along party lines. But we are finally at a point where I can say to you, the parts easy to believe are the proud parts. The parts of the story hard to believe are the humble parts, particularly the ones we hold in contempt.
We believe that man who can’t be bound with shackles and chains. We have seen him; we know him. Some of us even love him! But when this great one comes begging mercy, that’s a huge dose of humility that is just very hard to believe. This is not a man prone to beg mercy. And likewise, finding a demon within US, one the disciples cannot cast out – for that matter, it is hard to believe. That calls forth a humility we aren’t prone to answer.
Wow! If you are still with me, I am impressed. Can I get an “amen”? Just drop down to the comments and leave me the “amen” if you are still with me, because I want to know. I have a strong suspicion that out of the few readers I get, most have bailed on this post by now.
So… what does all of this have to do with you and me, with Demon-crats and Republican’ts?
Well, I live as a Christian in the modern-world version of Rome. This means I struggle with both demons at once, and sure enough, this fantastic country which once was the envy of the world is ravaging itself apart FOR THE SECOND TIME in its brief history. Even things like vaccines have become divided up, taking sides in a “two party[pooper] system.” The bitterness on both sides is noxious, and yet at nearly every turn, I find myself being shoehorned into one side or the other.
I think you feel it too, unless you have wantonly given yourself to one side or the other already. Then you just feel smug about your rightness as the whole nation burns up in eternal flames.
I tend to pick on Republican’ts more than Demon-crats, not because I champion Dems, but because the church has so thoroughly sided with the Cants! We have a demon! Can we pray?
Oh… you don’t want to face the demon in Us. Of course. That is humility a Cant can’t stand for.
My neighborhood is filled with fine, Christian homes and their yards and flowerbeds boasting placards in red, white, and blue that say “Pray for America” some of them even citing II Chronicles 7:14 as if there is something humble about this proud sign bobbing in the daisies! Just because it says “humble” in the sign in no way means it is, and the fact that the son of the Father can’t see it, is revealed in Jesus’s proph-O-drama of old. In some places, the same yard (or the neighbors) post signs and flags reading “Trump 2020… No More B*llshit!” or, heaven help us, “FUCK B*den.”
Do you really think that the God of Jesus, the God who comes incarnate to die a humiliating, agonizing death at the hands of both demons so that he can wrestle the power of LOVE from the love of power finds humility in any of that?
It’s right in that death that he takes a crown and receives the dominion once given to Adam and Eve.
IF you have read this far with me, I hope you will pray with me now too.
I would love it if you would leave a prayer in my comments.