Saturday, December 22, 2007

Go and He Goes

I'm reading the next bit of Mark 1. I always get stuck on these parts. Jesus has shown his authority by removing a demon from a man in the synagogue.
Are we expected to show that same authority?
Why don't I do things like that?
Occasionally people interrupt my sermons (I don't discourage it), but I've never wondered if they might have a demon.
Of course not. Somehow demon possession is not something that we encounter in middle-class English-speaking churches.
Are we not able to show these signs of authority because of medical knowledge that heals 'easy diseases' and leaves us with Aids and cancer?
Is there another way? Something that shows clear authority as distinct from arrogance?
There's more to this. I know there is, but I don't know what it is.


rebecca said...

Somehow demon possession is not something that we encounter in middle-class English-speaking churches.

Ever read the book The Harlot Church System by Charles Newbold? It will Rock your world (warning you). It dicusses this and you will be surprised.


Jenny Hillebrand said...

I'll look out for it. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Hi Jenny, In Gazankulu I have experienced the presence of an evil spirit in a woman. The Lord compelled us to pray for her and the spirit came out. An unbelievable experience and also a testimony to the people who were there. I believe that Jesus shares his power when the need is there for Him to make himself known.

Stephen Murray said...

Hi Jenny - you ask the question whether or not we should show the same authority as Christ here. Just a thought, but what in the text of Mark up until now has made you think that its about us? The book starts off as the gospel 'about Jesus the Son of God'. So far the only appeal is to the Jews to repent and believe and to the disciples to follow Christ. It doesn't seem to me that at this point we should be asking questions about what we are to do other to ask how we are to respond to what Jesus has done. There are plenty of passages in the gospels where Jesus turns to the people and tells them what they should be doing - here though its clearly about what Jesus is doing.

As an aside - if we are to develop a theology of demons and exorcism then we need to consider the whole teaching of scripture. I'd be wary of using this piece of text in any prescriptive sort of a way because the literature is clearly not prescriptive by nature at this point of the narrative. And I say this as one who does believe in the manifestation of the demonic and the need to even at times perform exorcisms (as the above commentor testifies to).

By and large the gospels are about Jesus - they're not about me and when they are Jesus or the author usually makes it quite clear.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Stephen
You're making me think about something that I haven't thought about in a long time!
But surely we are supposed to look at Jesus' actions and ask whether or not he expects that of us? Because we are to be 'imitators of Christ'. Specifically, because he hands the baton on to us in his statements 'I am the light of the world' - 'You are the light of the world' and in John 20 'As the father has sent me, I am sending you'.
Of course, we don't all go out an be carpenters and call fishermen, so it takes some circumspection. But it is a question I always ask when I read that Jesus acts in some way.
Please let me know what you think about this!

But you also make me think. Perhaps as a body we imitate him, so some cast out demons and others preach - rather than all in one person as Jesus was. But could it be that it is not required of us at all? I need to think about that some more.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Herman
Thanks for your comment. I've come across people in the informal settlements who say that they have had evil spirits. I've never seen an exorcism (or done one) myself. But I agree, it happens. Just not in every church!

Stephen Murray said...

We are to be imitators of Christ - the bible is clear on that. The question is: what do we imitate and what don't we. My view is that we need to have a consistent interpretation to be able to negotiate this problem - and it is a problem because like you said: we don't all become carpenters. What I'm search of is an interpretive key from the text that will stop me from just picking and choosing what I want to apply to myself and to me at the moment the only answer I can give is to find evidence in the text that suggests that what Jesus is doing is prescriptive rather than descriptive. The introduction to Mark's gospel shouts out that we should expect the majority of that particular gospel to be descriptive in nature - its about Jesus. There's plenty of prescriptive material in Mark, but I think we need to have clues in the text to inform us when it is prescriptive.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Thanks Stephen. I hear what you are saying. I need to think a bit about narrow contexts and broader contexts. (The immediate one of Mark, the broader one of the New Testament - and there would be others.) It adds another dimension to hermeneutics. Fun! Thanks.

eric said...

i happen to stumble upon your message, may the Lord bless you. He does send us in the same authority, which must be exercised under His will. Jesus humbled Himself, not acting as the Son of God(though He was) but as a man who spoke only what he heard His Father say, did only what He saw the Father do. It was God the Father who did the work, the will of the Father. Authority was given to Jesus, submitted to the Father, as we submit to Jesus, are given the same authority, as we seek His will. as the Father sent Him so He sends us, ambassadors of Christ. This is the intimacy that has always been intended and will be restored, that we be one as the father is in Jesus, Jesus in the father, that we be one in them. Jesus in us and the Father in Jesus that we be made perfect in one. you know what i speak to be true, the spirit in you testifies of it. ask the Lord for revelation, and long for the closeness He desires. write me anytime
may the Lord Jesus be glorified!

eric said...

10[The purpose is] that through the church the [a]complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.(eph 3:10)12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.(eph 6:12)