Jesus Heals the Demon Possessed Man
Luke 8: 26-39
This is one of the most powerful and dramatic incidents from the public ministry of Jesus and it both teaches important lessons and raises interesting questions. The lessons include at least the following two ideas. First, that the forces of evil in the spiritual realm are strong. This is seen in the fact that the man has been demon possessed for years, that he is not in his right mind, that he is completely outside of the community, and that he has abnormal strength (in breaking his chains). The second lesson is that while the forces of evil are strong, Jesus is stronger still. Paul reminds us of this same truth in Ephesians:
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground …” (6: 12-13)
Jesus and the disciples dealt with demons on many occasions and these appear throughout the New Testament (e.g., Matt. 4: 1-11; Mark 1:24-27; 5:2-3; Acts 19: 12-16). Their ultimate end is sure (2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:1ff.).
Exorcism is the casting out of a demon or evil spirit from a person who is possessed. At the time of the Protestant Reformation there was widespread misuse of this practice and also superstition was rampant. As such, the reformers challenged the practice of exorcism as practiced by the Catholic Church and at the end of the 16th century the Lutheran Church outlawed its practice.
Notice the following paragraph from the current Catholic Rite of Exorcism. What strikes you about this prayer?
From the Catholic Rite of Exorcism
I cast you out, unclean spirit, along with every Satanic power of the enemy, every spectre from hell, and all your fell companions; in the name of our Lord Jesus +Christ. Begone and stay far from this creature of God.+ For it is He who commands you, He who flung you headlong from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell. It is He who commands you, He who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Hearken, therefore, and tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the faith, you foe of the human race, you begetter of death, you robber of life, you corrupter of justice, you root of all evil and vice; seducer of men, betrayer of the nations, instigator of envy, font of avarice, fomentor of discord, author of pain and sorrow. Why, then, do you stand and resist, knowing as you must that Christ the Lord brings your plans to nothing? Fear Him, who in Isaac was offered in sacrifice, in Joseph sold into bondage, slain as the paschal lamb, crucified as man, yet triumphed over the powers of hell. (The three signs of the cross which follow are traced on the brow of the possessed person). Begone, then, in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit. Give place to the Holy Spirit by this sign of the holy + cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. (www.catholicdoors.com)