The Real Jesus
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The Real Jesus

Chapter 13


   Shop around any bookstore and you can easily be convinced that the general public accepts the fact there is a devil, and demons too. Sometimes, it seems that whole sections of bookstores are given over to materials on witchcraft, demonism, satanism, demon possession, astrology, extraterrestrial phenomena, psychic phenomena, and every other assorted study of the supernatural.
   The Bible is filled with many eyewitness accounts about Jesus' direct encounters with Satan himself as well as with many of his demons.
   Jesus Christ of Nazareth not only came to this earth in human fleshly form in order to atone for the sins of His masterpiece of creation — humankind — but also to qualify for future world rulership.
   To do so, He had to overcome the influence and the grip of the present evil world ruler, Satan the Devil. Satan is admitted throughout the pages of the New Testament, to be the "god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4), "the prince of the power of the world" (Eph. 2:2), and "a spirit of disobedience" that now works throughout human society.
   Evil supernatural spirits do exist.
   They are created beings, created out of spiritual essence and given spirit life through a divine act of the Creator God. They therefore will exist in perpetuity. The Bible reveals Satan is eternal, and will not be "destroyed" in the sense of human or physical destruction as we might conceive of it, but will apparently live on for all eternity in the "blackness of darkness forever."
   As rebellious spirits who formerly were given the responsibility for the harmonious maintenance of the government of God on this earth, Satan and his followers seem to represent fully one-third of the angelic hosts originally created by the divine family of God. The Bible reveals only three names for those of "archangel" status: Lucifer, Michael and Gabriel.
   When Jesus was emaciated to the point of near starvation, and had been praying many hours a day and fasting in His determined effort to grow ever closer to God so that He would be able to withstand the strongest imaginable temptations, He actually allowed Satan, who is called the prince of the power of the air, to literally convey His physical body from one place to another through the air. The Bible claims Jesus was actually picked up and taken to a pinnacle of one of the Temple buildings; that He was taken to the top of Mount Hermon, and that the encounter with Satan took place over an area of several hundreds of miles, ending finally "in the wilderness" (probably the Negev) where it had begun.
   Throughout His ministry, Jesus continually encountered those who were afflicted, tormented, tortured, "bothered," or even possessed by Satan's demons. (Judas Iscariot allowed himself to be possessed of Satan himself; and this brought about Jesus' betrayal, arrest and crucifixion.)
   Never once did Jesus "advertise" to the general public that He was coming to that village or this town for the purpose of casting out demons or performing great signs and wonders!
   When Jesus' ministry was completed there were no doubt many people still possessed of demons in the land, as there were many who were sick, afflicted, maimed or injured.
   From time to time, however, in the course of His ministry, individuals would come to Him seeking special favor and compassion because of a loved one who was grievously tormented by being possessed or influenced by one of these evil spirit beings.
   Matthew tells of a time when a man came to him and dropped to his knees before him, saying, "Lord, please have mercy on my boy — because he is acting crazily, and is terribly bothered. Very often, he will fall into a fire, and oftentimes into the water; it seems the spirit that possesses him is trying to kill him. He will have these seizures, falling to the ground, literally foaming at the mouth until he is bruised and cut, and then will go into these long dark periods of time where he just lies there like a vegetable, following the fit. I desperately wanted him cured, so I brought him to your disciples, and they tried very hard to get the demon to leave, but they couldn't cast him out!" (See Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 9:38-42.)
   Jesus sighed deeply, and said aloud to the disciples that were there, "O faithless generation, how long am I going to be with you — how long am I going to put up with you? Bring the boy to me!"
   They brought the boy to him, and the instant the spirit saw Jesus, he recognized exactly who He was, and threw the boy into a particularly violent fit. It caused a huge ruckus, and people began running from all directions when they saw the young man suddenly flung on the ground, writhing and moaning, chewing on his tongue and frothing at the mouth.
   An uglier scene cannot be imagined than a human being wallowing on the earth in terrible torment. Jesus asked the father, "How long ago did this spirit come into him?" The father answered, "When he was a child."
   Jesus looked at the man and said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to a person who can believe!"
   The father, terribly distraught and seeing the son on the ground, broke up and with tears in his eyes and trembling voice said, "Lord, I believe, help me with my unbelief"
   He did believe that Jesus had the power to heal the boy, but he recognized that the revolting physical spectacle represented pretty powerful testimony in itself, and he knew that there were certain waverings in the back of his mind; certain doubts nagging away at his consciousness, and that he was not near so faithful and strong in his conviction as he should have been.
   His statement, while I do not wish to wax maudlin over it, is nevertheless a beautiful example for those who are willing to pray to God today, and who are not ashamed to call out to God and ask, "Help me with my unbelief!"
   When Jesus saw the crowds gathering rapidly, He said, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I order you to come out of him, and never enter into him again!"
   Even after this command, the spirit yelled loudly through the vehicle of the boy's own voice and threw him into an even more violent fit, and then left the boy lying on the ground as if in a total coma.
   A lot of the people began to murmur that he was probably dead, but Jesus reached down and taking the boy by the hand, drew him to his feet — whereupon the boy seemed to stir, looked around wonderingly, and began to flex his muscles and straighten his clothes, brushing the dust and twigs from his garments and from his hair, no doubt wondering what in the world had taken place.
   Later, in private, the disciples rather sheepishly wondered why they had not been able to cast the demon out. They were not about to confess this in public, and were no doubt chagrined when the father had said so openly that they had been unsuccessful in previous attempts to exorcise the spirit.
   Jesus gently rebuked them by telling them there were some demons that were far more tenacious than others, thus illustrating that demons are individual creatures and spirit beings who have different kinds of personality and different degrees of stubbornness, and strength. He said, "this kind [of violent demon which is able not only to convulse the body, but also to cause the ears to be stopped up and the tongue to be blocked] will not be cast out except through prayer and fasting.
   Even the use of the word "lunatic" in the old King James version shows the popular concept of the person who was "struck by the moon" or "moon struck" when he was mentally addled, thus believing the affliction was more from an astrological source, attributing certain mystical powers to the moon, than from a demon. (The Latin luna provides the etymological basis for "lunatic" and means "moon.")
   On one occasion Jesus was up in the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, along the Syrophoenician seacoast, when a woman of Canaan, a Greek-speaking native of the old Phoenician area, was pestering his disciples.
   Perhaps they were walking along through a marketplace shopping for some food to eat to take along to the coast where they could sit down for a few hours' relaxation and casual conversation, listening to the boom of the surf, and enjoying the bright blue day, when a woman kept asking first one and then the other of the large group of men who were walking among the bazaars and shops of the marketplace, stopping to examine first this and then that article, "Which one is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one who is able to do all the healing — ! am desperate, you have got to point him out to me, because I need help!"
   "What do you want?" one of the disciples asked.
   "My daughter is terribly tormented and I believe it is a demon, and I have got to get some help, she is suffering terribly."
   Looking back over their shoulders, perhaps Peter, John and Andrew saw the growing mob of people around the loud protestations of the woman, and, knowing Jesus had come into the area for a much needed rest, probably tried to hustle Him along a little faster, saying, "Lord, let's get out of here. I think a crowd is gathering."
   Finally, the woman managed to discern who Jesus was and began crying after Him very loudly.
   The disciples said, "Lord, send her away, she's been nagging and crying around after us for a long time now. She is embarrassing the daylights out of us, making a public disturbance and causing everyone to think we are crazy."
   Perhaps Peter told Him, "Lord don't listen to her, you know you came up here to get a rest, and there is no reason to get involved with these people or there is no telling what is going to happen. Let's wait until we get back down into Galilee before drawing any further attention to ourselves."
   The woman said, "I know you. You must be the one who is the Jesus of Nazareth. You have got to help me! I am desperate. My daughter is terribly troubled with a demon!"
   Jesus refused to answer the woman. He did not even look at her! (See Matt. 15:21-29, especially v. 23.)
   The woman kept insisting, and finally Jesus turned to her and said, "I am sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." This surely reinforced the disciples' attitude that she was nothing but a complete nuisance.
   Yet she persisted.
   Clutching at His garment she knelt before Him in worship, bowed her head, and said, "Lord, help me!" Jesus looked down at the woman, seeing her shaking shoulders, and said, "It isn't right to take the children's food, and cast it to the dogs!"
   This eyewitness account should be shocking proof concerning the true character and identity of the real Jesus.
   Jesus' refusal to even answer the woman goes squarely against the grain of those who, like Judas, wanted to create "Jesus" in their own image, a "Jesus" who would never refuse anybody anything. This "popular" Jesus would have emptied every graveyard in sight, healed every illness, cast out every demon, and would never have refused a single request for aid from anyone. Yet the real Jesus did refuse to even listen to the woman initially, and had it not been for her own tenacity, and especially her faithful answer to a question she was asked, the account in Matthew clearly indicated that Jesus would have stolidly refused to have helped the woman's daughter.
   The Bible account says that's exactly what He did. First, He refused to answer her at all. She had had to fight her way forward through the disciples until she finally discovered which one was Jesus. Then, she had to kneel before Him and beg Him to help her.
   Still, He refused.
   Rather He gave her the statement that He was come only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and then gave her the unpleasant analogy of taking the food from the table of the children of the household, and then instead of giving it to them, throwing it to the dogs.
   Finally, the woman said, "That's true Lord; still, the dogs are able to eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
   With a sigh, and knowing that it meant the end of His few days' enjoyable vacation where He was able to bask with his disciples in the anonymity of a strange area, unrecognized, untormented by the crowds, not being maligned, ridiculed or accused by the religious leaders, and be able to thoroughly enjoy their forays into the nearby countryside, their times on the beach together, their pleasant walks through the streets of Sidon and Tyre, Jesus nonetheless relented.
   He said, "Why, lady, your faith is really great. It will be unto you exactly as you believe."
   Matthew says that the woman's daughter was made whole "from that very hour." The mother, of course, didn't find out until later. When she arrived home, she found that the demon had indeed departed and her daughter was resting comfortably in bed.
   No doubt she wasn't surprised at all. However, she did determine, from conversations with others at her home who were with her daughter, that her daughter had become sane and was no longer tormented by the demon within the exact same time frame when her encounter with Jesus had taken place.
   Sure enough, that was the end of Jesus' few pleasant days on the Syrophoenician seacoast.
   "Jesus departed from thence and came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee and went up into a mountain and sat down there" (Matt. 15:29).
   The people living on the heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee had been telling stories for years about a "crazy man" who lived in a graveyard nearby.
   When Jesus came into their country, He was to be confronted by this man who was known to be demon-possessed and who had been captured, tied, and even bound in chains several times previously by the local people.
   Demons always recognized Christ immediately. As James says, "Thou believest that there is one God [or, "God is one"]; thou doest well: the devils [demons] also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19).
   Even though they hated Him, these unseen spirit beings, able to speak through the voices and minds of their human hosts, knew they were totally subject to His divine authority, and that they had to obey Him.
   In this case, the man was actually possessed by many different demons. "And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been bound with fetters and chains but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
   "Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; 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" (Mk. 5:2-7, RSV).
   This was spoken in sarcasm — saucily and contemptuously — even though the demons were forced to admit Christ's true identity. Their sarcastic implication that Jesus would "torment" them was coupled with fear of being sent out of the country, or being commanded to go "out into the deep" (Luke 8:31).
   Luke's account shows that Jesus had already commanded the demons to depart, and they began to bargain for some alternate hosts. Maybe it's spooky to think about, but Jesus plainly said, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest... "(Matt. 12:43).
   Demons desperately want to possess and inhabit, like a spiritual parasite, either humans or animals.
   Jesus asked the man, "What is thy name?". "And he said, Legion, because many devils [demons] were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered [allowed] them. Then went the devils [demons] out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked" (Luke 8:30-33).
   The demons tried to cause the man to destroy himself; and somehow, enough human mind was functioning to keep the man alive, even if in a wretched, bloody, virtually mindless state.
   Not so with the pigs. Even though the demons begged Jesus not to send them "into the deep," their violent entry into the pigs caused such a stampede the demons couldn't control their new hosts — and immediately upon the death of the pigs were once again disembodied. (Another theory suggests that some demons want to die; that they are so perverted they are constantly in a suicidal state. Consequently, they try to kill whomever they possess. But, they themselves, being spirit, cannot die.)
   The swineherds (pigs were unclean and not fit to eat according to God's laws and, therefore, were avoided by the Israelites) were upset by the loss of their livelihood — and they began spreading the word around the nearby villages.
   Soon, some of the local citizens arrived at the scene, to see the well-known crazy man of the graveyard sitting calmly at Jesus' feet, fully clothed and in his right mind.
   To these pagan people, Jesus had some mysterious powers of which they were terribly afraid. Instead of rejoicing that the poor demented man was healed, they begged Christ to leave the country. The man who had been demon-possessed asked to join Christ — but He refused him, saying, "Return to your own house, and show how great things God has done unto you" (vv. 34-39).
   Jesus Christ's confrontation with the demonic world projected a meaning far more important even than the helping of suffering human beings. His ability to command the evil demonic spirits, as demonstrated by His casting them out of human minds, witnesses to the fact that He, Jesus, is Lord and Ruler of even the spiritual world.
   This once again reinforces the fact that in His prehuman life, the Personality Who became Jesus of Nazareth, the God of the Old Testament, was the very Creator Being who had originally created all the spirit beings. And Jesus' confrontation with demons during His physical life foreshadowed the time when He, as King of kings and Lord of lords, will take control of the entire earth and subject all the demons to His direct control, binding them with Satan for a thousand years.

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Publication Date: 1977
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