Friday of Lent I – Mark 1:9-15 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

She was really afraid. She was convinced that demonic beings were oppressing her, whispering to her that she had made a mistake, telling her about all the terrible things that would happen to her now, that she was unworthy, a terrible person. She was a young woman in a congregation I served, recently converted out of Mormonism. She was not delusional or at least did not appear that way to me. I believed then and now that she was really experiencing a spiritual oppression. Her emotions, her descriptions, her reactions, they all fit.

I am no psychologist. I am a pastor. There is much I do not know about the inner workers of a human mind, and I must admit that I could be wrong. But I do not think that I am wrong. I think Satan was making a last-ditch effort to hang onto her. I have to say that I was not terribly well equipped to deal with this. Had she been tempted to believe in some tenet of higher criticism, say the four-source theory of the Torah, I would have had ample tools for addressing her issues. I think we had one day in Seminary which touched on demonic possession. It was a shortcoming in my formal education. Thankfully, God has given me other teachers, including this young woman.

Jesus, the same Jesus whom we see in this text defeating Satan, vouchsafed and guarded her tender life and faith. We got through this time. The terrors in the night eventually stopped and the last I heard she was happy and free. If you are, like me, reared in a world which does not have regular contact with demonic forces, if biblical accounts of demonic possession seem like stories from another time and place, thank God today. Jesus has defeated Satan and bound his power through your Baptism. If, like this woman, you are not living in such a world, take heart. Jesus has overcome the foe. He is mightier than any demon. Pray to him. Trust him. He will help you. He has established his kingdom to rescue you and me from the power of sin, death, and Devil.

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