Overcoming Opposition


I. Background:

Jesus had suggested the trip and the disciples had willing followed. As they followed the instructions of Jesus they were met with opposition from the devil, i.e. the storm and the raging sea. Opposition could be expected since they were going about the business of plundering strongholds of the enemy.

They were made aware of the importance of their attention to the word of God via Jesus's teaching on the parables. (Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God . . . Rm.10:17). They had been chosen as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God but apparently had failed to see the larger picture of God's calling and their participation in the establishment of His Kingdom. It was for this reason that they were rebuked for their lack of faith concerning the storm. They should have known that as long as they were following the master's plan, they would be safe.

They were witnesses of great miracles and listened to Jesus expound the secrets of the kingdom. They were made aware of the part that they would play in spreading the message of the Kingdom so they should have known that the "strong man" and his "house" would stop at nothing in his opposition to the spreading of the good news of the gospel.

The lesson: When you are following God, nothing but God can ultimately stop you, and secondly, you will be put into situations where it seems as if you should have followed a different plan, but you should hold fast and not allow the circumstances to defeat you. In fact you should go on the offense and refuse to look at the circumstances. Fear is never an option for those who will exercise faith in the plan of God. Fear short-circuits faith.

II. When they reached their destination they are immediately surrounded by more strange circumstances.
  1. The man with the unclean spirit. (Mt. 8 shows that there were actually two men but Mark only focuses on this one.)

    1. He comes to worship Jesus.

    2. He is immediately overcome by the demons.

    3. The demons have a "door man" who speaks for the rest.

    4. The "door man" effectively secures a better deal with regards to their future housing arrangements. See Mt. 12:23f, 12:43.

  2. The Legion of Demons.

    1. They were strong and had supernatural strength, but couldn't keep the man from coming to Jesus.

    2. They couldn't be bound with chains, but couldn't keep the man from coming to Jesus.

    3. They had taken over the man's mind and body, but couldn't keep the man from coming to Jesus.

    4. They knew why Jesus had come and were powerless to stop the Holy Spirit from drawing the man to Jesus.

    5. They wanted to stay in that region.

  3. The pig keepers.

    1. They see the same miracle as the other cities but have different reactions. Obviously they were more concerned with temporal possessions than they were for their fellow man.

    2. They actively work against the ministry of Jesus in their region, keeping the blessings of the kingdom from the other citizens.

  4. The town folk. Apparently there were many apostate Jews (those who had openly violated the terms of God's covenant with the nation) who lived here. [(Mathew Henry, who quotes Grotus.]

    1. They both "see" and "hear" about what happened and yet the devil is able to rob them of the word, (effectively illustrating the parable of the sower.) Because they didn't consider the wonderful thing that had occurred, they lost the opportunity for more of the benefits of the kingdom.

    2. They became factors in their own blindness by entreating Jesus to leave.

  5. The man who had been delivered.

    1. He is the only one that recognizes Jesus. (The most unlikely candidate!)

    2. He is the only one to worship Jesus. (Even the spiritual chains couldn't stop him from coming to Jesus.)

    3. He is the only one to receive anything from Jesus. (Those that call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered.)

    4. He becomes the only hope for the town coming to Jesus. (He stayed!)