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Greater Than- The Supernatural

Greater Than- The Supernatural

  1. Introduction (Open to Mark 5)
    1. Series Tie-In— Greater Than through the book of Mark (authority of Jesus over 4 key areas)
    2. Supernatural— reading a passage about demon-possession
    3. About the supernatural—
      1. In our culture, we’re pretty dismissive of the supernatural, unless it makes for good film/tv— we explain it away (this/that); the more educated a culture is, the more dismissive
      2. In Eastern-influenced cultures it’s invoked, invited in— We see a larger presence of witchcraft and religions that are very mystic. They want the supernatural in their life.
      3. In Scripture— it’s very active and apparent
        1. See it in the OT and the NT
        2. At no point does the supernatural cease to exist— some of us in here have had very tangible experiences with the supernatural

The supernatural is very real. We see it in scripture and it’s a huge part of Jesus’ ministry, and this morning we’re going to see Jesus interacting with the supernatural, and we’re going to see his authority over the supernatural— for he He is truly “Greater Than.”

  1. Mark 5:1-17
    1. This is an odd story- weird story— not one for the nursery walls
    2. Context— Takes place right after Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee [map]
      1. Pre-dominantly non-Jewish region
      2. Cultural understanding of demons— it was very real
        1. It was universally believed in both Jewish and pagan circles that there are forces beyond that which we can see and hear— and some of them are good and some of the are evil.
        2. For the Gospel writers— the most characteristic evidence of the power of Satan is the ability for demons to take possession at the center of people’s personalities— nothing new for them either
        3. In NT, Manifestation looks different— Blindness (Mt. 9); blindness and muteness (Mt. 12); epilepsy (Mt 17)— Mark 5, manifests itself in violent conduct

Regardless of how the demon-possesion manifests itself in the gospels, the stories always serve to give an emphatic example of Jesus’ authority. And we’re gonna walk through this story, and we could go a lot of ways this story and this idea, but I just want to sit right here on the text, and stay focused on the authority of Jesus. Let’s see what we can discover about Jesus through this story.

  1. Mark 5:1-8
    1. Recap passage—> What do you want with us Son of the Most High God” (Matthew’s account says “before the appointed time)— The demons understand
    2. JESUS’ AUTHORITY IS ETERNAL— They know that they have a final eternal destination of destruction and Jesus is the one going to take them to it. They know that. So for him to just show up is a problem for them.
    3. Common practice in exorcism to identify the entity you’re trying to cast out, to gain control [parents using kids full names]— not making a declaration of who He is, they’re trying to gain control over him because they’re worried— their destruction is inevitable, it will be eternal, and will come at His hands
    4. Jesus’ Response— Asks the demoniac his name— completely flips this control game back on them—demon responds (vs 9) “Legion for we are many”
  1. Mark 5:11-13
    1. Recap— demons are hostile to Jesus, can’t help but acknowledge His superiority over them, so they beg—> “Send us to the pigs”— They know that their fate is tied to Him (whatever he decides). They understand that the authority of Jesus has immediate implications.
    2. JESUS’ AUTHORITY IS IMMEDIATE— Demon exorcism was one of the most characteristic of Jesus’ acts of power
    3. Demon Exorcism in Judaism and Greco-Roman culture and religion— abounded, but was intertwined with a crude magic
    4. By Contrast, Jesus displays a unique directness, immediacy, and effectiveness. The amazing factor in Jesus’ ministry was the power of His mere word. The demons ask to be sent into the pigs (a herd of 2000 pigs to be exact), and Jesus says “go.” One word— “go.” And they go.[Study in Luke- 16 words]

Jesus says “go,” and they leave, fleeing into the heard of 2000 pigs, drowning the entire herd.

  1. About the pigs… It’s not about the pigs
    1. Any Jewish listeners— This made sense. Pigs were unclean animals. So unclean spirits, unclean animals. Make sense. They didn’t get hung up on it, because they would understand it wan’t about the pigs.
    2. A lot of ink and tears and compassion have been shed on the pigs and the destruction of the pigs, but people are missing the point. That’s not what matters in this moment, it’s not what is relevant to what’s actually going on. Why the demons should beg to be sent into the herd of pigs is not really self-evident. We don’t really know why they wanted to be sent in to the pigs. There are theories, but we don’t know. We don’t have a clear indication on why. But what is clear in all three accounts of this story (in Matthew, Mark and Luke) is that it’s not about the pigs. Unfortunately, in this moment, and even today, we focus on all the wrong details, and we miss out on experiencing Jesus’ authority and His redemptive power.
  1. Mark 5:14-17
    1. Recap:: with a mere word; sitting, clothed; in his right mind—no one could subdue— JESUS’ AUTHORITY IS ABSOLUTE
    2. There is no comparable— Jesus says “go” they go; storm-be calm,  be healed-healed— sometimes doesn’t bring the expected response
    3. Display of power
      1. Should be awe & worship— a revelation of His divine and hole nature
      2. Brings fear and misunderstanding— latter vs 15 “they were afraid”
      3. Gentiles see this as powerful magician—> they’re uncomfortable, pigs sank, scared, worried— more concerned with their pocketbooks than with the lost being rescued
    4. Jesus puts spiritual and human realities above other considerations.
      1. Release was more important than the off of pigs (again we don’t know why, but Jesus probably knew…)
      2. The redemption of people must always take priority over financial prosperity.
        1. People miss it— concerned with the loss that they completely miss the authority of Jesus—ask him to leave 
        2. They completely miss one of the defining acts of Jesus’ power in casting out the legion— in being greater than the supernatural.
  1. Conclusion
    1. The Point— Jesus has matchless, unassailable authority over the powers of darkness and evil. God’s ultimate authority over Satan is vested in this man Jesus— JESUS HAS ALL AUTHORITY
    2. The Reality— Those in relationship with Jesus get to live with that authority— carry his authority in our lives
    3. The Application
      1. Simple— in how we pray…
        1. In church ministries (nursery, preK, kids, grade school, etc)
        2. For our nation— practical steps that need to be taken, things need to be looked at— do not underestimate the power of interceding for people— even the youth and the young
        3. Jesus’ authority isn’t bound by age, it’s not bound by race, it’s not bound by gender, it’s not bound by geography. There is no reason why we, as followers of Jesus, can’t say “I stand in the authority of Jesus, and this is what I’m praying with absolute belief that God is going to show up. That’s walking in the authority of Jesus. And it doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous (like I’m doing). It can be quiet, it can be done in a whisper, it can be silent. It doesn’t have to be a big showcase
        4. You can pray and walk in confidence, because you understand that no matter what, Jesus has authority over it. And that’s incredibly reassuring. It’s incredibly encouraging that no matter what we encounter in life, no matter how tragic, how heinous, how awful it might be, we live and walk in the truth that Jesus is greater than.

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