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God’s Word for You

Mark 1:23-24 Cauldrons and pits of hell

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, July 24, 2021

23 Just then there was a man with an unclean spirit in their synagogue. It cried out, 24 “What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking that demon-possession is something that can only happen where the pagans do their dark pagan things under the dark cover of night. But no, the devil knows where we live. He doesn’t need to work very hard on the pagans because they’re already lost. The devil spends no time at all on evolutionists and Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons and Buddhists and all the rest because they’ve done all his work for him. They’ve all said No to Jesus and either rely on themselves or stick their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, thinking the Lion won’t see them when he comes. So the devil does his rounds and visits their lives from time to time and sees all their unbelief bringing forth all of the choking weeds and rotten fruit he desires, and he is satisfied.

But here in the synagogue of Capernaum? Here where Christ himself was preaching? Should we expect a demon to show up here? Of course we should, just as we can expect unbelief to be gnawing at the hearts of our neighbors in our towns. A Lutheran steeple in town is a great blessing, but it doesn’t drive away unbelief all by itself.

There was a demon here who recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God. This was a title for God that is common in the Old Testament (Psalm 71:11, 78:41; Isaiah 5:19, 55:5; Jeremiah 51:5; Hosea 11:2) and the New (John 6:69). This demon thought he had found a little reprieve from the noxious billowing smokes of hell, the unrelenting fire and torture, and he had come to tempt this poor man to snooze a little in a comfortable spot in the shade in the synagogue on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But there was God the Creator himself, come to preach and teach! The demon was terrified! Here was no traveling rabbi rambling on about what he made out to be vague hints in an otherwise clear passage of the Scriptures. Here was the Preacher of Righteousness, the Son of David.

For the demon, this was awful. Where could he go? Where could he hide? If Adam couldn’t lose the Lord under the cover of the trees (Genesis 3:10), what hope could the demon have in the little stone-paved synagogue of Capernaum? He cried out, the way sinful men and women might cry out for mercy. But a demon is already damned; he’s already judged. He has no clemency to which to appeal.

That’s the difference between a short-lived human on earth and a deathless demon that walks unseen. We humans have a time of grace, a time to ask God for mercy, a time to plead for God to be compassionate. And God hears us. God is compassionate in every way. His mercy is eternal, and his love goes on and rolls forward ahead of him in his word for all to hear. Bless the Lord Jesus for bringing the merciful love of God to you in person. His love has saved you. His mercy will keep the stench of hell’s cauldrons and pits out of your nostrils for all eternity. In Jesus, you will have everlasting life in peace, in paradise.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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