When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
After another heavy Connecticut winter snowfall, I had to go out to get food for our growing and hungry family. This meant driving down a steep hill that ended at a busy highway with stop sign. I inched the car so very slowly forward that the speedometer barely showed any signs of forward motion. I continued this craw till I was able to come to a complete stop right at the stop sign.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I started looking both ways for my chance to turn onto the main highway. As my eyes moved back and forth, I caught a glimpse of something in my rearview mirror that made my heart jump. It was another car coming down the snow-covered hill. But they had failed to plan ahead.
Quickly calculating their speed, slickness of the snow, and the steepness of the hill they were flying down, I rapidly concluded that there was nothing I could do. This wasn’t going to end well. So, I did the only thing I could: I pulled my seatbelt tight, slid down in my seat, and waited for the inevitable bang.
They also saw it coming, and there was not a thing they could do. They slammed on their breaks, but it only made their car slide sideways into mine. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
This poor demon possessed guy was also high on a hill. Looking out, he sees Jesus coming in a boat. He starts running down to shore, screaming, and yelling like he normally did. This must have been quite a scene for the disciples. Here comes this raging lunatic, yelling and screaming as he’s running toward the water. I wonder if the disciples wanted to turn the boat around or find another place to land.
Jesus must have seen and heard this because he responds by telling the impure spirit, over and over, to leave him. This goes on all the while as Jesus approaches the shoreline. When Jesus reaches dry ground, they speak directly.
I find this so interesting because the impure spirit had been torturing this poor guy for some time. And now, coming face to face with Jesus, he uses God’s name to try and convince Jesus not to be tortured. Where I come from, we’d say that took a lot of guts.
And what does the impure spirit think torture looks like? Not pain. Not being thrown into outer darkness. Not being condemned to hell. But having to leave this guy. Torture is leaving the known for the unknown. The expected for the unexpected.
Jesus is not intimidated by the impure spirit. He’s not afraid of being near someone who’s clearly out of his mind. He does not back off or walk away from this most serious problem. He stands up to this very dangerous person and situation.
He not only stands up, Jesus commands. He acts and speaks with authority. He doesn’t back down. When the first command to the unclean spirit to leave the guy doesn’t do it, he keeps at it. Over and over, Jesus stays at it, not backing down at all. He keeps commanding the unclean spirit to come out. To come out. To come out. Jesus wasn’t going to leave this guy the way he was for a minute.
No matter the situation, no matter what the problem is. No matter who the enemy is, or how many enemies there are, none of that matters. Not when it comes to God in Christ coming for us. Speaking for us. Fighting for us.
Jesus is never overmatched or outgunned. He’s never surprised by the enemy. He’s never in need of supplies or strength when it comes to meeting what looks like overwhelming odds.
His plan might be very different. His tactics may not be what we were thinking of. His timing might be confusing to our desire for an immediate fix. What and who he uses might not have been our first choice. Second. Or even third. But the end is certain.
God never fails anyone. It is he who called you to belong to his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9 WE
God does the never failing. That’s who he is. But what’s our part? To belong to his Son through the transforming reception of God’s grace through faith. He did and does all the heavy lifting, all the saving. Our part is to receive, to belong to him.
He is on the lookout for us. He will never deny or fail us.