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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Today’s Reading | Luke 4:31–37

He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region. (NRSV)

Reflection

These verses in Luke are first and foremost a story about Jesus’ power to heal. In this one, there’s a fellow “who had the spirit of an unclean demon.” The fellow, prompted by the demon inside of him, says to Jesus, “Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

I imagine the man yelling at Jesus when he says these things. Jesus simply speaks up and rebukes the demon, tells the demon to come out of the man, and the demon can do nothing else except listen and come out. But the process isn’t easy. The story tells us that when the demon departs the man, the force is so strong that the man is thrown down on the ground.

I believe God is able to do anything, and so I don’t have much trouble imagining the truth of this story, even though I haven’t witnessed instantaneous healings nor have I come face-to-face with demons such as the ones described in the Gospels. But I know how wrenching it can be to change my internal behavior and take charge of my internal thoughts. I’ve got loads of old scripts that run through my mind—about worth or ability or resistance to change or resistance to God. Those are my demons. I know how strong their force is because I know how hard it has been to choose to think or react in a new and healthier way. Sometimes, it’s been so hard to change and let those demons depart that I’ve been brought to my knees (“thrown down on the ground”) in great need of Jesus’ help. Maybe getting down on my knees makes it clear to the demon that I’ve finally chosen something better.


Prayer

Dear God, Lord of all, help me keep coming to you asking for the courage to be transformed, to be healed, to be made whole. Help me to let go of unhealthy ways of living and death-producing ways of thinking. Amen.


Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care


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