As Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum, a loud mouthed man whose life was held in the grasp of Evil shouted, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24) This experience amazes me for various reasons.
While others were trying to identify who Jesus truly was, certainly more than just the carpenter’s son, one possessed by an evil spirit was perfectly clear on His identity. He knew who Jesus was, and he knew that his knowledge was correct. He was spot on. He knew that he knew. But of course, knowledge doesn’t automatically change us.
Then I am amazed at the readiness with which the possessed man assumed the role of spokesperson for those gathered in the synagogue. “What do you want with us?” was his first question. How often evil couches itself as a friend of those who are seeking answers to life’s important questions. This is a ploy that Satan has used since the first garden conversation. While uncertain voices might be silenced by timidity, the evil one is quick to find a spokesperson for the crowd. He loves to orchestrate emotional volatility because it often erases accurate reflection concerning the true Friend of sinners.
Finally, I wonder if the possessed man deliberately falsified the character of Jesus, or if he was so misled himself that while he could clearly identify the Son of God, he would totally miss the purpose of the Jesus life among us. “Have you come to destroy us?” How can one know the identity of the incarnate and totally miss the reason for His presence with us?
Truthfully, that happens more than we can imagine. Every day we encounter people who claim to know who Jesus is but who are unwilling to follow Him. They are convinced that following Jesus is a one-way street to destruction of everything they enjoy. They are convinced that following Jesus will be the end of joy and happiness. Delusion.
That is the way Satan works. He mixes truth and lies. He knows who Jesus is but he deceives, portraying Jesus as the destroyer. He presents himself as one who is concerned for our well-being. He ‘cares’ about our getting what we ‘deserve. He lies about Jesus and denies His promise, “I have come not to destroy you, but that you might have a life rich in abundance.”
If I understand one thing from this story, I understand how important it is that those of us who know Jesus become friends who will give others space to consider the truth about Jesus and why He has come. We must be the ones who lead them to ask “Who is Jesus?” And then, let us help them to explore the redemptive and restoring truth of His incarnation. The truth gives freedom.