patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Friday, February 22, 2013

speaking of demons

In addition to healing people’s sicknesses, Jesus also gets rid of their demons. We know that, in at least some of the stories, they must actually have been demons and not simply the gospel writers’ way of referring to mental illness because, as a reader of this blog pointed out to me, in some of the stories at least, “the demons talk to Jesus!” Indeed, Luke summarizes many such cases when he writes that “demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah (Luke 4: 41 NIV).

My Bible’s notes and the sermons I’ve heard dealing with such stories are quick to explain that Jesus silenced them because he wasn’t yet ready to be revealed as the Messiah. We’re never told, though, why the demons recognized Jesus’ divinity in the first place. Maybe, because they were of the spirit world, they knew Jesus from there.

My question has never been why the demons recognized Jesus as God’s son, the anointed one, or why Jesus always went out of his way to shut them up but why just about every one of them announces Jesus’ identity. Why would Satan’s helpers want to let others in on the truth about Jesus and thus risk their believing? Or, to put it another way, how does publically identifying Jesus achieve their demonic ends?

It occurred to me, in thinking about it this time around, that maybe the demons can’t help themselves. Maybe they, already in some other realm, are proof that, as God promises in Isaiah 45:23 in a passage Paul paraphrases first in Romans 14:11—“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God’”—and then fleshes out in Philippians 2:9-11:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The demons say it because they have to say it. Paradoxically, though it’s not Jesus’ will for the word to get out quite yet, it’s nevertheless God’s will that, in his kingdom, every tongue—even the tongue of a demon—will proclaim the good news of the One God Sent.


  1. Wow! What an interesting perspective. In my head, I always envisioned the demons as horrified and screaming "AHHHH! THE SON OF GOD!!" to warn their buddies - sort of like I'd expect myself to do if I was confronted by a bear, "AHHHH! A BEAR!!" It is way more awesomer to think that they HAD to proclaim him as God - had no choice. If they had to proclaim his deity, then Jesus would have known they would. He shuts them up knowing in advance that they would leak his "secret". If that is true then surely a slow leak was part of God's plan. When Jesus shuts them up, he also shows himself to be Lord even over the spiritual realm - that must also have been part of the plan. Lord over heaven and Earth!

  2. I too get a new perspective--that the demons might have been shrieking in terror, as you suggest.

    Although, having encountered bears, I never did that. I go silent in my terror, as in a dream when you're willing yourself to scream but can't.