Thursday, February 20 2020 - 3:34 PM
Photo by Warren Wong with Unsplash

A Demon-Possessed Messiah?

One day a group of people accused Jesus of being possessed by a “Samaritan demon.”  They believe he was way out in left field and just making stuff up.

“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51, NLT)

Jesus spoke to them on a spiritual level, but they were stuck in a very literal, physical place.

The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (John 8:52-53, NLT)

They asked the wrong question. Instead of asking Jesus who he thought he was, they should have asked themselves, who do we think he is?

How do we determine what is of God and what isn’t? How do we decide what to discard and what to embrace? What evidence would be compelling enough for us to believe that God is in something or someone?

Can God speak through a false prophet? He did through Balaam. In Numbers 22-24 we find the fascinating story of a man who had at one time been a spokesman for God, but his priorities changed and he eventually conspired with the powers of darkness to try and stop God’s people.

We know about the talking donkey and the comical way that God chose to get Balaam’s attention. Eventually God allowed Balaam to try and curse Israel, but his curses always turned into blessings, no matter how hard he tried.

One Bible Commentary says,

“The passage does not tell us that the best source of God’s guidance is necessarily foreign prophets or donkeys, but it does give us some insight about listening for God’s voice. It is easy for us to listen for God’s voice only from sources we know. This often means listening only to those people who think like we do, belong to our social circles, or speak and act like us. This may mean we never pay attention to others who would take a different position from us. It becomes easy to believe that God is telling us exactly what we already thought. Leaders often reinforce this by surrounding themselves with a narrow band of like-minded deputies and advisors. Perhaps we are more like Balaam than we would like to believe. But by God’s grace, could we somehow learn to listen to what God might be saying to us, even through people we don’t trust or sources we don’t agree with?” (The TOW Project)

If we had been among the crowd who rejected Jesus’ testimony about himself, would we have agreed with them? Or, would we have sensed God’s presence in Jesus’ words and demeanor?

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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