Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. A disturbed man interrupts. Jesus listens and heals the man of what was possessing him. Then Jesus turns back to teaching. I’ll bet people listened a little more closely after that.
Teachers are allotted a certain amount of authority. And Jesus accepts his. Teachers are given the license to probe their students’ thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Good teachers notice more than just the questioning looks from the students. They notice who is sick, who is distracted, who is hungry, who is disturbed. Teachers know how to ask the right questions to find out if their student is being bullied, abused, or neglected. Teachers help those who are possessed by an unclean spirit find the resources to cast out the bad spirit.
I think most all of us can relate to being possessed by something that is so clearly not the Spirit of God blessing us to be a blessing to others. These demon possessions are not always the most serious, like drug and alcohol addictions. Even anger from a Facebook post can capture the soul and eventually manifest itself in ways similar to this man in Mark’s story.
As church members, we would love to see someone who is possessed miraculously healed because they heard the gospel preached in our sanctuary. But often, it takes more. The road to healing and restoration takes both time and companionship. Healing comes from the steady encouragement of a grief support network, or an AA group in the church, or a prayer chain, or parenting group, or anger-management classes, or a Sunday school class. For God is at work in all these ways and so many more, to free us from those unclean spirits that possess us.
Barry Foster, pastor, Unity Moravian Church
Lewisville, North Carolina