Hope That Overcomes Darkness
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
It is one of the deepest ironies of the biographies of Jesus that in nearly all of them it is the demons that first recognize and most clearly articulate who Jesus is.
Meanwhile, everyone around him (including his closest followers) swim around in varying degrees of confusion, even after his resurrection.
This demon is ruining this man’s life. But he knows Jesus’s true identity: ‘the Holy One of God’—the Messiah, the Savior, sent of God, Son of God. The demon knows that Jesus’s coming and mission is in direct opposition to his soul-sucking, life-destroying, parasitic work.
Throughout the gospels, every demon that Jesus comes face to face with knows that they don’t stand a chance in the face of this Supreme Opponent. They are out-gunned, out-manned, out-witted and over-powered by Jesus.
Later, Jesus’s brother James will write that even the demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God—and shudder.
This exclamation of fear by the demon is the first concrete sign in Jesus’s story of what is to come: the light of Jesus will swallow the darkness. Satan will empty hell in an attempt to throw everything at Jesus, including the kitchen sink of death itself. And it won’t matter. Jesus will emerge victorious.
In all of our lives we feel the pain of sin, evil, and the effects of the powers of darkness. Darkness has scarred our families of origin and our families of today. Evil has demonstrated remarkable power in our politics and in our economics. Grief sometimes threatens to choke out any hope or happiness.
Sometimes it can feel that darkness and not the light has the last word.
But with this passage we celebrate the fear of this demon in the face of Christ. We delight that the darkness that would shred all that is good and beautiful in this world quaked in the presence of the Holy One of God.
And so we hope.
Spend some time today letting the fear of this demon teach you about Jesus. What might this mean for you in the areas of life where you feel the effects of darkness in your own life: pain, dysfunction, disappointment, betrayal, hopelessness and the rest?