Two weeks ago we commenced a new series that will take us up till Christmas. It is the encounters that Jesus had people as told through the eyes of Luke.
We have shared how we don’t know much about Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. But we do know that Luke was a doctor and the only non-Jew to write any part of the New Testament. We also know that Luke was a close friend of Paul (Colossians 4:14 NIV) who also worked with Paul (Philemon 1:24 NIV) on various mission trips (Acts 16:6–11; 17:1; 20:5; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Two weeks ago we learnt about Simeon’s encounter with Jesus (Luke 2:25-35). As 40-day old child, Jesus had a profound impact upon Simeon. For many years Simeon in quiet humility waited for God to bring His Messiah, the Redeemer. God kept His promise and so moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon went to the Temple the same day that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus. When he saw the baby Jesus He knew within his heart that He was the One. He took Jesus and praised God for Him and them says about Him, “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30 NIV). In other words, Simeon is saying “this is the One”. This is the One who will bring salvation not only to the Jews but to the Gentile – the rest of the world (Luke 2:32). Simeon knew in his heart that this infant child Jesus was the One. The Spirit had moved Him. What an encounter Simeon had with the baby Jesus.
Also on that same morning, Luke introduced us to another person who had a special encounter with the baby Jesus. Her name is Anna. We learnt about her last week and how she was a prophet (Luke 2:36). As a widow, her life was tough but Luke tells that “she never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Luke 2:37 NIV). What an amazing woman. Despite what was happening around her, she was a devout person of faith who fasted and prayed like Simeon for the “…the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 NIV). Like Simeon, all her life she waited quietly and patiently on God. And so when on that same day that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple, Anna on seeing the baby Jesus knew in her heart who He was - The One. She came up to Mary and Joseph who had the 40-day old Jesus and Anna knew and began praising God. The impact of this encounter with Jesus upon this elderly lady was immediate – praising God and telling others about Him. Years of waiting had culminated into this beautiful encounter. Waiting, waiting, waiting – and then God came through. The One, The Redeemer was here.
Luke next introduces us in chapter 4 to the Devil and a person who had an evil spirit, and their encounters with Jesus.
It’s well known that after a significant moment, particularly of a spiritual nature that the devil is never far behind. And this was the case for Jesus. In chapter 3 we read how John the Baptist came on the scene preparing the Jews to get their hearts ready for the Messiah. John preached a message of judgment and repentance and as a sign that people were turning from their sins, people were baptised.
John’s message wasn’t well received by everyone. He denounced Herod for many evil things he did and so John was put into prison.
Luke tells us though, in verse 21, how Jesus was baptised. Luke doesn’t mention John’s encounter with Jesus at his baptism, but from the other gospel writers we know that it was John who baptised Jesus.
For Jesus, it was such a spiritual moment. He who didn’t need to be baptised was baptised to fulfil all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). When Jesus was baptised Luke tells us that heaven opened and what appeared to be a dove flying towards Him was actually the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven descending on Jesus and then God the Father say, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22 NIV). Wow! What affirmation from the Father to His Son – “I love you; I’m proud of you”. What a spiritual significant moment.
Remember, after a significant spiritual moment the devil is never far behind. Luke tells us what happens. As Jesus commenced His public ministry as mentioned in 3:23, He was immediately tempted by Satan at least three times. We know of the three recorded temptations but Luke also adds that “for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:2 NIV).
For 40-days Jesus, who ate nothing, was hungry and vulnerable and yet the devil came to him striking Him with various temptations. And on each occasion Jesus slammed the door in Satan’s face (Luke 4:4,8,12). That encounter that Satan had with Jesus ended up being quite typical. Luke tells us that “When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left Him until the next opportunity came” (Luke 4:13 NLT). Notice what Luke says, “he left him”. The half-brother of Jesus, James, likewise wrote, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). Jesus resisted the devil and the devil fled from Him.
However, also notice what else Luke wrote about the devil and Jesus in verse 13, “…he left Him until the next opportunity came” (Luke 4:13 NLT).
And this is exactly what happened. Throughout His ministry Jesus would come in contact with either Satan himself or his evil demons. In fact, in chapter 4, so quite soon after His temptations in the desert, Jesus came across a man who was possessed by a demon. This demon would encounter Jesus in a power way. He knew who Jesus was and therefore feared what was going to happen to him. Jesus told him to be quiet and to come out and he did and the man was better.
This morning though, I want to look at an encounter of another demon-possessed man as told by Luke in chapter 8. Verse 27 says, “As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet Him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town” (Luke 8:27 NLT). This poor guy was homeless, lacked dignity because he didn’t wear clothes, lived with the dead – all caused by the many demons who lived in him. For years he was tormented like this. On occasions he had a supernatural strength that could break free the chains that tied him up.
Like the demon that is mentioned in chapter 4, when the demons saw Jesus fear came over them. They knew who Jesus was. They knew alright because when they saw Him they said, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Luke 8:28 NIV). In fear they twice begged Jesus not to harm them (v28,31). And so when the demons thought how terrible it would be to be sent to hell, they begged Jesus to be let go into a herd of pigs on the side of a hill. No remember that pigs were considered by the Jews as some of the most uncleaned animals. Luke tells us that “When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside” (Luke 8:33-34 NIV).
Gone! Jesus resisted the demons and they fled and drowned.
What happened next is what I consider a beautiful encounter. Remember that for years this man who was possessed by so many ugly and powerful lived in a cemetery naked! Being like this, nobody wanted to be his friend. In fact, his condition made him unclean and so people kept right away from him. What happened next was a beautiful encounter. Luke says this in verse 35, “People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus' feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane…” (Luke 8:35 NLT). Wow! What an encounter this man who no one talked to was now sitting at the feet of Jesus – the Son of the Most High God! He was sitting at his feet, not naked but wearing clothes and wearing his dignity! And Luke says that he was perfectly sane – no more fits, no more acts of violence, or uncontrollable behaviour. He was sitting with Jesus, healed!! Wow! What an encounter.
Interestingly, it didn’t end there for this healed man. When Jesus was leaving the town, the man begged Jesus to go with him. He had such an encounter with Jesus that he wanted to go wherever he was going. Jesus though, told him to stay in the town and tell others about what God has done. And Luke tells us in verse 39, “So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39 NIV).
The Bible says that the Devil is a created evil being who
As a fallen angel, Satan and his demonic angels are personal and are the enemy of both God and humanity (Isaiah 14:12-15), and have some power. To understand Satan’s powers, let’s take a closer look at Ephesians 6:11-12. We are told to defend ourselves with God’s armour and so that we can “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV). The definition of “strategies” is cunning arts, deceit and trickery. It is very important that we understand this principle. Deceit, seduction and lies are the powers of Satan. No more, no less. Satan does not have the power to physically harm you, force you to act, nor does he wield any power over you. Satan is a caged lion that seeks to overcome. He can only overcome those he can convince to come into his territory by submitting to him. There is no such thing as ‘the devil made me do it’. Satan and demonic forces only have the power that people submits to them or God allows to them. That is why Satan is the master of lies.
However, while Satan’s powers are limited he is still influential. Peter says this about him: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). He doesn’t like God nor the church. And so he looks around for people to either drag away from their faith in Jesus or to keep them away from God full stop.
When Jesus died on the cross, the devil was disarmed. Colossians 2:15 says, “In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NLT). While it is true that Jesus won a major battle on the cross, there are still battles to be fought until that great Day when Jesus comes back and will ultimately win the war. Paul says this about our battles: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).
There is a battle going on and so Peter tells us to wake up! He says in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV). We need to wake up and acknowledge that Satan is real and doesn’t like who we are and what we do. I like how The Message translates verse 8, “Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping” (1 Peter 5:8 MSG). Some of us are napping. It’s time to wake up!
There’s a battle going on and so Paul tells us not to give the devil any opportunity. He says in Ephesians 4:27, “do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 NIV). Wake up for we do give the devil a foothold with our conflicts between each other, with our lazy faith, by our legalistic laws, by not loving each other, when we divert from the truth of His Word and His Ways, or when we fail to believe that the devil is a real supernatural being.
Do you know why Jesus taught us, out of the many things to pray for, He taught us to pray, “…deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13 NIV)? It’s because we constantly give the devil a foothold into our lives by our sins, our decisions, and our laziness.
Years ago at church camps we would sing this song:
Shut The Door, Keep Out The Devil
This was a fun song originally written by Randy Stonehill, but its message is so right. When we are alert and know that the devil is getting a foothold, we are to shut the door on him. Jesus did, and he fled. We are told that when we shut the door on the devil, he will flee.
The devil is prowling around. He would like to devour your family, your friendships, your faith, your Christian witness, our church, our school, our missionaries, our Christian values.
When Paul was nearing the end of his life, he wrote to Timothy saying that he has “fought the good fight” meaning that he and the devil have had their battles but Paul had shut the door on him every time for he had kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).
Earlier, Paul had said something similar to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith…” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV). Don't allow the enemy to ruin you or anyone else that you know.
Your family is worth fighting for. Shut the door.
Your health is worth fighting for. Shut the door.
Your peace of mind is worth fighting for. Shut the door.
Your self-worth in Christ is worth fighting for. Shut the door.
Your family's souls are worth fighting for. Shut the door.
Our church is worth fighting for. Together, Shut the door.
The kids who come along to Playgroups, Brigades, Tribes and Radiate are worth fighting for. Together, Shut the door.
Years ago God says to King Jehoshaphat “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV). Then years later, when Jesus saw the people who were demon-possessed, he fought the battle for them, and they were healed. And today, when we are in a battle, God will fight for us. We just need to wake up, be alert, put on our armor, and shut the door! And watch him flee.
When we have encounters with the living Jesus through worship, prayer, reading the Bible, walking in nature, we become more aware of the spiritual realm – the good and the bad.
Shut The Door, Keep Out The Devil