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Demon Hunters

 4 Epiphany

28 Jan 2024

Mark 1:21-28

 Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Demon Hunter

Demons!!  What could be a more exciting topic than the demonic?  Demon rum, internal demons, Demon Copperhead, three headed demons, songs about demons, people who are so enraged they act like a demon.  Demons are everywhere.  I love to play World of Warcraft and in that game the demons are always, well, demons. Badasses. Evil. Maybe someone who is insane. Demons occupy a very large territory in myth, religion, and even our everyday life.

Now Jesus knew all about demons; he understood them. He lived in a world where demons were all too prevalent.  Is it really all the foreign to our own world?  We think we are sophisticated and call demons by other names: mental illness and substance abuse; politicians we do not like; businesses we feel are unjust and cutthroat. Perhaps we would do better just to call them demons, the demons within and the demons without. Jesus was clear that there were two kinds of demons: those that destroy out lives from within and those who bring destruction from without. We might use more sanitized words: mental illness for that which comes from within and authoritarianism for the tyrants from without. 

Jesus knows them and they know Jesus for the threat that he is. This is what plays out in all of history: a threat, an injustice, a demon if you will, appears and only a few see the demon for what it is.   Authoritarian leaders arise because people do not see that they are demons.  But Jesus did; he saw all the demons and he could control them. He perhaps took greater aim at the external demons, the tyrants, for it was, and these, demons that truly keep the reign of God from becoming a reality. Jesus, in short, came to save me from my demons and the collective us from our demons. Martin Luther King and Ghandi both saw what Jesus was doing.

Luke has Jesus starting his ministry in the synagogue by reading the scroll from Isaiah that proclaims justice and the good news to the poor and marginalized. Matthew speaks of healing and spreading the good news. But Mark says Jesus has authority; he is the prophet of which Moses speaks in Deuteronomy, the one who speaks with authority, the true prophet who comes from God.

Jesus is all of this: the one who heals, the one who brings justice, and the one who has authority.  The demons know who he is and ultimately the demons killed him, for the Roman government and its supporters were indeed demons. Mark says Jesus is that great prophet of whom Moses spoke, the one with true authority and the one we should all follow.  Listen to what he says, for he speaks with great authority. He is the one who brings liberation to his people, all people, and the one who can bring down the forces of death and destruction that try to rule the world. He walks the walk; he speaks of liberation, and he brings liberation; from the very beginning he brings fear into the demons of the world.  Don’t ever think that the demons are unworldly spirits; they are all the evil forces that crushed the life of people in Jesus’ time, and they are the forces that crush our lives today.  He did not come to usher in a new spiritual realm; he came to set us free from the demons in our lives.

I say “our lives” because Jesus is at work here and now, calling out the demons and destroying them.  The work is done through us; our faith should not lead us just to the pews, it should lead us out the door and into the world to ferret out the demons.

In World of Warcraft are quests where you must find things that are not visible without some sort of special object or spell.  As strange as it may seem, our faith is at times just like that.  Unless we understand what Jesus came to do and to give to us, we will not see the demons in our midst. We will not see the forces that keep people in poverty, that keep them homeless or jobless, that keep them in a state of despair.

The Good News is proclaiming that God is on the side of the marginalized, the physically and mentally ill, the poor, the oppressed.  Demons will sometimes win. 

Bad things happen; not all of it is the work of a demon.  Blizzards and extreme cold can kill; earthquakes kill.  When people freeze because they can’t afford heat and buildings collapse because they were intentionally shoddy, that is the work of a demon.

Iowa has some of the most polluted waters in the country; it may be part of why we are virtually the only state seeing an upsurge in cancer.  There are demons involved in creating this.  Jesus sees them and calls them out; I wonder if we will have the courage to do the same thing.  I see lots of demons all around me.  But I also see prophets and demon hunters.  I see people who are speaking truth to power and pointing out just where the demons live.

Ghandi said you must be the change you want to see in the world. I wish that all people would see that type of change as a change for good, where all of humanity and the natural world are lifted.  It is possible and we need to start thinking that it can be done.  We pray that God’s will be done and it seems pretty clear that God’s will is health/salvation for all. 

Demons and devils aren’t really about personal temptations; they are about systemic evil.  Jesus saw it and he spent his entire ministry showing people how to combat those demons.

What is your plan for becoming a demon hunter?

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