I believe it was in the fifth grade when a close friend turned against me, and with him several others. As I walked home one day not long after, they launched at me a steady barrage of snowballs, relentlessly reloading from northern Michigan’s endless supply of winter white. It so happened, though, that at the point of ambush was someone shoveling his driveway. He wore a varsity jacket, so likely a high school junior or senior, and being in the line of fire, he joined me. So, together we battled a small detachment of pre-adolescents—I lobbing lazy, high-arching “air cover” and the big guy firing frozen spheres—arrow-straight, at high-speed, and with great precision. It was enough: the enemy scattered, and I walked safely home. “We” had won.
We don’t know how the man from Gergesa obtained an “impure spirit” or how he’d become possessed by a “legion” of demons; we only know that he suffered greatly under the oppressive powers of darkness. Constantly tormented in body, mind and soul, he had become a frighteningly “fierce”1 man of unsubduable strength2 and “always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”3 But authority understands authority, and when the demons in him saw Jesus arriving, they in self-interest drove their helpless host into His presence: the man “ran and fell on his knees in front of him.”4 Then at the top of the man’s voice, they collectively shouted at Jesus, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”5 (Ironic, isn’t it—bullies begging for mercy in the face of defeat?) At Jesus’ command, the demons scattered and the man was safe—“he” had won.
Our “walk home” is filled with battles, for we “struggle … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.”6 Yet as painful and difficult as these times are, in Jesus, we have already won. The Father “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”7 No matter how tortured our past or how hopeless things appear, we have won. No matter who is against us or how great their number, we have won. Though our foe would attack us or our friends flee our side, we have won. Then in the confidence of Christ and in His power, we face our enemies; be they addictions, frustrations, rejections or regrets, we can face them, knowing this: we are in Christ, and Jesus always wins.
“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Father, thank you for this assurance: Jesus has defeated our enemy, and in Christ, I have, too. You are God, and I am safe. Help me always to remember this and to rest in you. Amen.
1 Matthew 8:28 ESV
2 Mark 5:4 3
Mark 5:5 ESV
4 Mark 5:6
5 Mark 5:7
6 Ephesians 6:12
7 Colossians 1:13