March 16, 2014
The importance of this story is evident as Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include it in their Gospel account. The uniqueness of Mark’s (and Luke’s) account is that he places it immediately after the parables about the Kingdom of God and the miracle of calming the storm. Mark’s purpose is to reveal the authority of Jesus over teaching, nature, and demons. Interestingly, this miracle initially places greater emphasis on the demons and the power of Jesus than on the one being possessed. Therefore, Mark provides three liberating insights regarding the power and sufficiency of Jesus Christ in the face of any encountered enemy.
Matthew testified, with painful reality, the facts concerning how Jesus enduring the most horrifying death by crucifixion, was sealed in a tomb by His enemies, and was abandoned by His own disciples. If this was just another attempt of a “would-be Messiah,” it would be the end of the story. But this was no ordinary man, nor was it any ordinary miracle. This was about the incarnate God being our sin bearer and conquering death to provide life to all who believe in Him. But this Good News is not always received with a warm welcome. Matthew provides very clear evidence to Christ’s resurrection by drawing attention to the three statements and three reactions given to the three groups of people.
With great compassion, Jesus warns about the horrors and reality of eternity in Hell. Since Hell is real and Jesus is fully aware of its reality, He would be dreadfully unloving if He did not warn us of its horror. Amazingly, however, those who believe in the reality of hell, as revealed in the Scriptures, are often accused of either distorting the love of Jesus or holding to an angry Jesus. The fact remains, Jesus did speak a lot about Hell; therefore, before we accuse Jesus of being uncaring, we better remember the infinite pain and suffering He went through to grant us salvation. In this section, Jesus provides three certainties concerning the coming judgment we need in preparation for eternity.
Similar to the time of the New Testament, we are confronting a culture that is moving further and further away from a biblically-centered standard. The religious elite, in the time of Jesus, rejected their Messiah by exchanging God’s truth for their own man-made solution. That solution is deadly to anyone not keeping guard by means of the work of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. In this passage, Jesus sufficiently teaches us three key truths designed to develop our endurance in this rebellious culture.