Mark 1:34 – Silencing Truth-Telling Demons

One of the fascinating themes of the gospel of Mark is the interaction between Jesus and the demons.  There are many surprising things, but one of these is that the demons react to Jesus just because he shows up.  Another is that one of the things the demons want to do is identify Jesus.  Why is that?

First, let me note that I’m not trying to discuss the existence of demons here.  Using the word “exist” with spiritual entities, not to mention using the word “entity” with spritual “whatsits” leads to all kinds of problems.  But it is quite possible to discuss spiritual issues and events using this vocabulary whatever one thinks the reality behind it is.

So we have an interesting trio of elements when Jesus shows up.  First, demons start to speak.  Second, these demons are trying to say something true by correctly identifying Jesus.  Third, Jesus doesn’t want the demons to tell the truth.

We can start with one important lesson:  There are times when it is wrong to tell the truth.  We all encounter this in cases of confidentiality, for example, in which telling the truth to someone who doesn’t need it can be extremely damaging.  A counselor who repeats facts about his or her clients wouldn’t last very long.  A pastor who passes on parishioner gossip may be telling the truth, but is telling it at the wrong time.

I have experienced “true” introductions that have not been appropriate to the occasion.  For example, once when I was speaking in a worship setting on prayer, a time suitable for a devotional style of homily, I was introduced following the time of worship in music.  The introduction was glowing, and to the extent that it referenced facts, it was also factual.  I do, in fact, read the Bible in Greek, for example. But in this case, we took people from a contemplative mood ready to meditate on prayer, to an attitude of listening for intellectual content.  Further, the focus should have been on the scripture from which I would speak and on God who gave it, but it turned to me instead.  Thus a complimentary and largely true introduction became a barrier to the spiritual purpose.

So why would Jesus object to the activities of the demons?  I think these demons illustrate a key fact.  Evil, and by that we should think people who have given themselves over to evil, will always react negatively to good.  The purer the good, the nastier the reaction of true evil to it.  The faster Jesus was identified as the son of God, the sooner his ministry would come to an end and there were things he needed to do.

It was an issue of agendas–God’s agenda as put into practice by his Son Jesus vs. the agenda of evil.  The demons weren’t identifying Jesus to help move his agenda forward.  Jesus knew that and has to silence the voice of evil–even when it is telling the truth.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *