At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod wants to kill you!” 32 Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33 Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed anywhere but in Jerusalem!
Today’s Target and Teaching is…
Time for Discernment and Engagement - Over Demonic Forces and the Evil Opposition
Week One of this series (It’s Just Time), I shared the historical and biblical context for the passage of Luke 13:31-33. Now… the implications of the Messianic fulfillment and Resurrection power aside, this poignant and forceful response to the Pharisee’s regarding Herod’s death threat is more than just another wow moment in His spiritual engagement against the evil forces of religious sin and corruption.
Let me clear the air real-quick here on their conversation, and then we are going to move – these guys were not just bad guys – they were evil and demonic guys.
And when Jesus said to them “You tell that fox, I’m going to be casting out demons and healing the sick for the next two days” It included His engagement with them – and whatever was going to happen between Jesus and the entire Sanhedrin was going to happen – it was as they say “ON.”
During this time of Covid-19 calamity and crisis, Reunion has responded strongly to this message, we have heard Jesus and taken this personally. We have determined that our mission and ministry is deeply connected to the ministry and mission of Jesus from the engagement of that day.
One - we are not taking any of this out of biblical context, nor are we projecting ourselves into a role or position where we do not belong. Jesus Himself, gives us our connection and point of entry right here in
“I’m telling you the truth, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
Two – Just because we are engaging with Christ in this mission and calling does not mean that we are now “Dragon-Slayers” and “Demon-Chasers.”
In this COVID moment that we all are in there is no need or requirement for an army of unloving, unbalanced, unwise, and dogmatic zealots.
The moment does however require resolved, passionate, disciples of Jesus, who will live out their faith before a frantic world – fearlessly, forcefully and passionately.
Not wacky – real. Not pulling back – pushing forward. Not shaky – solid. Not foolish – wise. And finally, not selfish – selfless.
As the coronavirus and the coronavirus economy shakes our apparently low-immune planet, and the “stay-home” protocols emotionally wear down those who are physically healthy but on the financial ledge – we wonder what our threshold really is.
Many things about this are not setting well with many folks. One example for that might be that elective surgeries are no permitted, while abortion clinics have remained open for business. This kind of logic and mixed message are hard to reconcile and justify.
Many Christian leaders feel caught within the tension of obeying civil authority – protecting the physical health of their communities, and yet having the knowledge and conviction that the Church of Jesus has survived and flourished during much worse in her history. There is a daily avalanche of un-vetted information and gross mis-information – and tomorrow most of it will be contradicted by another round of mixed-messaging.
The truth that we all know is that the experts, scientists and doctors (for which we are grateful) would kill one another faster than the virus if they were all quarantined in one room together.
So, the world’s influencers who have through digital media and technology led 7 billion humans to believe that this world has everything and that they alone have all the answers - now peeks through that same window of technology to view a COVID world - that really doesn’t have everything and they certainly do not have all the answers to anything.
And, that is an even greater pandemic.
The world leaders (both good and bad) are now daily exhausting all their energy and our resources to do what they say “is best” to ‘save lives” to “contain the virus” and to minimize the fear, anger, mistrust, exploitation, politics, and psychological breakdown that comes with it all. Something doesn't seem right - don't you think?
For a few weeks I wrestled with feeling that there was some underlying evil and demonic forces that were attached to the COVID-19. When I got into the words of Jesus in Luke 13:31-33, I was fully ramped up.
But soon I realized it was just too easy to villainize an unseen contagion – natural or man-made (depending on whose story you believe). I’m still ramped up and I do believe that Christ intended the sick and diseased of our day to be healed, and for the demonic forces that do exist be driven out and overcome.
I also believe that true and genuine disciples of Christ have been given the mantle and the mandate to pray for both healing from disease, and deliverance from evil.
In fact, that is why we are in going in deep with Luke 13:31-33. And while you’re at it, you could add…
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
1 John 5:4-5
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
My library contains the complete works of the profound theologian and author – Karl Barth. As he was dying in 1969, from a bacteria-based disease that had aggressively deteriorated his kidneys he wrote the following… this monstrosity does not belong to God’s good creation, but rather has come in as a result of the Fall. It has in common with sin, and with the demons also, that it cannot simply be done away with - but can only be despised, combated, and suppressed… the main thing is the knowledge that God makes no mistakes and that “proteus mirabilis” (remarkable mutating bacteria) has no chance against Him.
If you fully embrace Barth’s dying words you might end up viewing the Creation of God as a good thing gone bad—once those greedy and hate-filled humans got their hands on it. But is that God’s view?
Listen to Jesus walk some of that back into its place in Matthews Gospel
And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
What I hear in this apocalyptic warning is that every imaginable and unimaginable wickedness, every disaster and tragedy, every pandemic and persecution, every liar and deceiver will unfortunately have their say and will have their day. People will become afraid and give up.
The enduring righteous will be saved, and the Gospel of God’s Kingdom will be preached to the entire world.
Like I said about my guy Barth, the tendency could be to blame kidney eating bacteria’s and immune busting viruses on the first two humans God created – too easy.
Yes, sin came into the world through their disobedience, and, Yes, their sin has impacted every human being since.
But as Daniel Harrell, of Christianity Today writes “unless God’s creation defies every characteristic of biological reality, bacteria and viruses are not bitter fruits of the fall, but among the first fruits of good creation itself.”
If our world’s most brilliant biologists, doctors, and scientists are correct in their research, life as we know it could not exist without them.
This we know - God makes no mistakes… period. And, as Barth said, bacteria and viruses indeed are mirabilis (Latin; meaning remarkable, amazing or wondrous! But aren’t those the words we use to describe God’s masterpiece called Creation?
And wouldn’t they be part of His Creative plan from the beginning?
Think about it… Death itself is required for organic life to exist.
And as lovers and seekers of truth we know that this is also true of eternal life as well.
Christ died so we could have new life.
And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Would it not be more correct to see God’s remarkable Creation not as Paradise Lost, but rather as Paradise not yet finished or fulfilled?
The writer of Revelation (22:13) calls Jesus both the source and fulfillment of all creation—the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
His mission - love (John 3:16)
Even sacrificial love cannot be coerced, demanded or forced.
Oh no, here we go…
So, God allows for free will so that genuine love and real relationship are possible. Allowing us the freedom to love also means we have the freedom to reject it.
Within that one dynamic lies the tension for the “Why would a loving God allow such suffering crowd.”
In order to have real relationships with people, God permits the possibility of no relationship.
If we apply this theologically solid logic to nature (where humans consist and exist) we can also see the theological reality that nature has been endowed with the same freedom.
The same ocean that mystifies and inspires - can also flood and destroy. The same sun that breath-takingly sets each evening here in Arizona - can also scorch, burn and deliver life-threatening heat advisories. The same earth that serves as a foundation to our feet - can also quake and fracture causing mass destruction. The microscopic organism and bacteria that supports life - can also contagiously take it away.
Here is our launching point for Luke 13:31-33. Jesus, though he did say to the Pharisees, “tell Herod today and tomorrow I’m going to cast out demons and heal the sick” did not rid the whole world of all evil and every viral infection – those are both part of natural cause and course, and many times, the result of human sin and mankind’s willful choice. What Jesus did do was overcome the world, and for all who freely choose to believe - save us from it!
To briefly unpack that; He indeed saves us from our sins - but not always from our suffering and death. He didn’t even save himself - He purposefully gave Himself.
He is the good that overcomes the evil of demonic forces, He is the wounded Healer – who heals disease and brokenness - and He gives Himself to us. The Hell Jesus descended into, was in great part our sin and humanity.
He went there to overcome and deliver us out from it.
Our first calling as believers and disciples of Christ remains to love to God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But a significant part of that mission is to resist the devil, overcome demonic forces, and pray the prayer of faith over the sick so that they will recover.
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Yes, there is real evil and there are very present and active demonic forces at work in our world – we have established that is how it is. We are to be as Jesus said, “in this world, but not of this world.”
Our mission and calling (which is known by our love), is to discern demonic forces and threatening diseases and to demonstrate the witness and presence of God through power of the Holy Ghost!
“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But keep the faith! I have overcome the world.”
With faith, hope and love, we abide the tension between beginning and end, between anxiety and peace, between what is and what will come.
Next week we can begin our conversation on the discernment and demonstration of the Holy Spirit and what that looks like in these certainly uncertain COVID moments.
Right now, I just want to pray with each of you…
Located in Peoria, AZ, we are a non-denominational Christian church. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.
We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and YouTube