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  • John Bryant

Mark 1: 21-28: The Demon and Me

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.


What is it like when a demon hears the Gospel? Jesus preached it here, and a demon heard it, and came bursting forth.


And why would it come bursting forth but that the Gospel threatens, exposes, and claimed their death? The Gospel, in Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Return, is the end of the demonic realm.


The Gospel that ends our opposition to God.


The demon comes in because he knows his life is over, and he claims a challenge with Christ. He claims Christ as a combatant.


But Christ is not another combatant in the world, a good force matched with a bad. When Christ speaks he speaks as Author of the world.


Christ speaks and demons go away. Christ does not have to fight, Christ has to speak. And the Cross, for all the struggle of it, is not Christ struggling, it is Christ speaking. It is God speaking in Christ’s Death: “It is Finished.” The cross is not just a struggle, a drama. It is a Word of unprecedented sovereignty.


And by It’s power everything that was Mine, everything I claimed as Mine is now Christ’s. And demons have a hard time with that.


The Gospel is more terrifying once you believe it. The Gospel will eventually claim everything I thought was Mine. The ongoing struggle of a Christians is to let the Gospel to claim as Christ’s the things we thought were ours.


And, for me, the Gospel claims as Christ’s the time I think is Mine. And the pain I think is Mine. Until we get to the point where the Gospel won’t even let us dislike ourselves. I struggle to be the recreation of the Gospel.


I can tell you how the Gospel claimed my time as Christ’s. It happened through a drunk man who comes up to me. I see him maybe once a week. Everything, his whole aspect changes when he sees me across the street. He stops what he’s doing, and makes a beeline toward me.

This man likes to do two things: he likes to talk about his life and preach the gospel. The hard thing is I can’t always tell when we’ve moved from one to the other. He uses the same diction, the same inflection when he recounts a story from scripture than he does when he’s talking about what he got from the grocery store. When he talks it sounds like Jesus is right down the street and about to come meet us. His diction and inflection, his sheer ability to talk has the effect of creating a feeling of expectation in the listener.


What is Christ about to do to Zaccheus? What will Christ say next?


And although he is a man who clearly struggles and continues to struggle with money and drugs and his past and present, he is almost without a doubt the best preacher I’ve ever heard.


And when he talks and he sees that I need to go somewhere, or when I get interrupted with something else that needs doing at the church I work at, he gives me this look. And the look says not that he’s been interrupted but that Christ has been interrupted. That Christ is waiting to speak to the woman at the Well, Christ is about to heal the man born blind. Christ is about to heal the paralytic.


With that look he says, Will I stop and listen and let Christ finish what He’s doing? Will I stop long enough to let Christ heal? Will I put down what I’m doing so that Christ can look at us?


And I stop fidgeting and stand on the street and kneel in my heart. As the Word spoken by this drunken man judge my Heart. And the Word proclaimed by this man, my strange friend, has laid me low and ended my opposition to the Gospel.



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