Jesus’ teaching is marked by a characteristic note throughout all the Gospels, and here in this passage it is emphasized. He teaches with “authority.” That word “authority” is interesting: it suggests, in English, the key to the issue. He teaches with authority because he is the Author. The authority here implies power, resources, impact. In particular, on display is the power of Jesus’ Word over the demonic (4:36). Jesus commands the demon to be silent (4:35) (because what it was saying was attesting to Jesus’ identity as “the Holy One of God” (4:34). The source of the witness, the demonic, was the last kind of support that Jesus would need; if Hitler says you are a good guy, most will believe that you are not—and if the demonic attest Jesus as God, it does not encourage popular support to that notion. Jesus also commands the demon to come out of the man, and the demon came out of the man (4:35).
The New Testament does make a distinction between the purely medical and the actually demonic. Luke, as a physician, understood these differences and paid close attention to the fact that this was demonic in nature. Not all illness, maladies, mental issues, suffering, have demonic causes. Some are purely medical or biological—a result of the fall. Some are our own particular fault. Some are to do with our own particular sin. But some (as in the famous case of Job) are suffering that comes upon the righteous, and is given to show that the righteous are indeed righteous, as a powerful testimony (the pattern of the cross) to the Risen Power of Jesus.
At any rate this was a demonic instance. And Jesus casts the demon out. And it shows the authority of his Word. Jesus’ Word was uniquely authoritative and uniquely powerful. But, albeit to a lesser extent to be sure, God’s Word when faithfully delivered does have power—his Word will not return to him empty but will accomplish that which he designed for it to do. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ. That Word, the Word of God, is powerful. Use the sword of the Spirit. Rely on God’s power. In battle with the demonic, utilize the authority of the name of Jesus, and the power of Jesus’ Word: the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
Another very good reason to read the Bible. That you might know it and be able to use it so that you can stand in your hour of testing.
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