With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”- (Mark 5.7, NLT)
What stands out as clear as a pike staff in Jesus’ counter with the demonic is that Jesus had authority over the demonic. He knows it, the demons know it and they obey him. We pick up Jesus’ authority in several ways:
- The man/demons ran to meet Jesus. Jesus doesn’t seek out the possessed man, the man seeks out Jesus and it is an attraction that seems to act almost like a magnet, as if the man could do nothing else than go directly to Jesus. There is some attractive power here that we do not see, but that both Jesus and the man/demons do experience.
- The man/demons bow before Jesus. The word that Mark uses to describe the man bowing before Jesus [προσκυνέω for Greek studs] means:
to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully [BDAG]
This man/demons must bow down before Jesus’ authority, there is simply no other option. It is as if they are under compulsion, and if we didn’t think so before, we certainly will when we see that…
- The demons call him “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” This can only be construed as unimaginably bizarre and unexpected. The forces which are inside this man hate Jesus and all that he stands for and are steadfastly opposed to all that he does and is going to accomplish and yet the must speak the truth about him. They must acknowledge that he is “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” Why? Because they are under the authority of El Shaddai [Almighty God] and when he wants them to speak the truth, they will speak the truth!
- The demons understand that Jesus has authority to torture/punish them. Mark has the demons saying, “don’t torture me;” Matthew has it as: “Have you come here to torment us before the time?” This is a fascinating statement, apparently the demons know that when time is finished and the end of the age has come, then Jesus will punish them, punishment they acknowledge that they deserve [Notice that they don’t say “Why will you torture us? We are innocent” but “Don’t torture us before the time,” thus acknowledging that they were going to be punished and that such punishment is just.”]
- The demons beg Jesus not to send them to some distant place. They thereby acknowledge both Jesus’ authority and power to do with them whatever he commands.
- Jesus allows them to enter the herd of pigs. They must receive his permission to do so.
Here is the thing that strikes me about this passage. The demons and the spiritual forces of darkness understand that they are subject to and under the authority of Jesus and must obey his commands. This is something that mankind in general has not figured out yet, or perhaps we should say that they keep forgetting it. Love Jesus or hate Jesus, you, dear reader, are under his authority, and one day you will bow your knee before him, just like these demons did. You may bow out of love for him, or you may bow like these demons did, out of compulsion and under his authority, but bow you will.
“Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11, NLT)