A man with an unclean spirit - This demoniac is only mentioned by Mark and Luke, Luke 4:33. It seems the man had lucid intervals; else he could not have been admitted into the synagogue. Unclean or impure spirit - a common epithet for those fallen spirits: but here it may mean, one who filled the heart of him he possessed with Lascivious thoughts, images, desires, and propensities. By giving way to the first attacks of such a spirit, he may soon get in, and take full possession of the whole soul.
See also Luke 4:31-37.
And they went into Capernaum - For the situation of Capernaum see the notes at Matthew 4:13.
Straightway - Immediately. On the following Sabbath.
The synagogue - See the notes at Matthew 4:23.
And taught - In the synagogue, the presiding elder, after reading the Scriptures, invited anyone who chose to address the people, Acts 13:15. Though our Saviour was not a “priest” of the Levitical order or an “officer” of the synagogue, yet we find him often availing himself of this privilege, and delivering his doctrines to the Jews.
He taught them as one that had authority - See the notes at Matthew 7:29.
A man with an unclean spirit - See Matthew 4:24. It is probable that this man had lucid intervals, or he would not have been admitted into the synagogue. When there, one of his fits came on, and he suddenly cried out.
Let us alone - Though only one impure spirit is mentioned as possessing this man, yet that spirit speaks also in the name of others.
They were leagued together in the work of evil, and this one knew that if he was punished, others would also share the same fate.
What have we to do with thee? - See the notes at Matthew 8:29. By this the spirit meant to say that, if Jesus cast him out, he would use an improper interference. But this was untrue. The possession of the man was a direct assault upon God and his works. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and Jesus had a right, therefore, to liberate the captive, and to punish him who had possessed him. So Satan still considers it an infringement of his rights when God frees a “sinner” from bondage and destroys his influence over the soul. So he still asks to be let alone, and to be suffered to lead people captive at his will.
Art thou come to destroy us? - Implying that this could not be the intention of the “benevolent” Messiah; that to be cast out of that man would, in fact, be his destruction, and that therefore he might be suffered still to remain. Or it may imply, as in Matthew 8:29, that the time of their destruction had not come, and that he ought not to destroy them before that.
I know thee who thou art - Evil spirits seem to have been acquainted at once with the Messiah. Besides, they had learned from his miracles that he was the Messiah, and had power over them.
The Holy One of God - The Messiah. See Daniel 9:24. Jesus is called “the Holy One of God” because:
1.Jesus was eminently pure.
2.Because Jesus was the only begotten Son of God - equal with the Father. And,
3.Because Jesus was anointed (set apart) to the work of the Messiah, the mediator between God and man.
And Jesus rebuked him - Chided him, or commanded him, with a threatening.
This was not the man that Jesus rebuked, but the spirit, for he instantly commanded the same being to come out of the man. In all this, Jesus did not once address the man. His conversation was with the evil spirit, proving conclusively that it was not a mere disease or mental derangement - for how could the Son of God hold converse with “disease” or “insanity?” - but that he conversed with a “being” who also conversed, reasoned, cavilled, felt, resisted, and knew him. There are, therefore, evil spirits, and those spirits have taken possession of human beings.
Hold thy peace - Greek, “Be muzzled.” “Restrain thyself.” “Cease from complaints, and come out of the man.” This was a very signal proof of the power of Jesus, to be able by a word to silence an evil angel, and, against his will, to compel him to leave a man whom he delighted to torment.
And when the unclean spirit - Still malignant, though doomed to obey - submitting because he was obliged to, not because he chose - he exerted his last power, inflicted all the pain he could, and then bowed to the Son of God and came out.
This is the nature of an evil disposition. Though compelled to obey, though prevented by the command and providence of God from doing what it “would,” yet, in seeming to obey, it does all the ill it can, and makes even the appearance of obedience the occasion for increased crime and mischief.
Mark 1:27, Mark 1:28
And they were all amazed - The power of casting out devils was new to them.
It was done by a word. Jesus did it in his own name and by his own authority. This proved that he was superior to all the unclean spirits. In consequence, Jesus‘ fame spread throughout all the country, and the impression became prevalent that he was the Messiah.
At Capernaum Jesus dwelt in the intervals of His journeys to and fro, and it came to be known as “His own city.” It was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and near the borders of the beautiful plain of Gennesaret, if not actually upon it. DA 252.1
The deep depression of the lake gives to the plain that skirts its shores the genial climate of the south. Here in the days of Christ flourished the palm tree and the olive, here were orchards and vineyards, green fields, and brightly blooming flowers in rich luxuriance, all watered by living streams bursting from the cliffs. The shores of the lake, and the hills that at a little distance encircle it, were dotted with towns and villages. The lake was covered with fishing boats. Everywhere was the stir of busy, active life. DA 252.2Read in context »
But the purposes of Christ were not thwarted. He allowed the evil spirits to destroy the herd of swine as a rebuke to those Jews who were raising these unclean beasts for the sake of gain. Had not Christ restrained the demons, they would have plunged into the sea, not only the swine, but also their keepers and owners. The preservation of both the keepers and the owners was due alone to His power, mercifully exercised for their deliverance. Furthermore, this event was permitted to take place that the disciples might witness the cruel power of Satan upon both man and beast. The Saviour desired His followers to have a knowledge of the foe whom they were to meet, that they might not be deceived and overcome by his devices. It was also His will that the people of that region should behold His power to break the bondage of Satan and release his captives. And though Jesus Himself departed, the men so marvelously delivered, remained to declare the mercy of their Benefactor. GC 515.1
Other instances of a similar nature are recorded in the Scriptures. The daughter of the Syrophoenician woman was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus cast out by His word. (Mark 7:26-30). “One possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb” (Matthew 12:22); a youth who had a dumb spirit, that ofttimes “cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him” (Mark 9:17-27); the maniac who, tormented by “a spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4:33-36), disturbed the Sabbath quiet of the synagogue at Capernaum—all were healed by the compassionate Saviour. In nearly every instance, Christ addressed the demon as an intelligent entity, commanding him to come out of his victim and to torment him no more. The worshipers at Capernaum, beholding His mighty power, “were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:36. GC 515.2
Those possessed with devils are usually represented as being in a condition of great suffering; yet there were exceptions to this rule. For the sake of obtaining supernatural power, some welcomed the satanic influence. These of course had no conflict with the demons. Of this class were those who possessed the spirit of divination,—Simon Magus, Elymas the sorcerer, and the damsel who followed Paul and Silas at Philippi. GC 516.1Read in context »
Over the winds and the waves, and over men possessed of demons, Christ showed that He had absolute control. He who stilled the tempest and calmed the troubled sea spoke peace to minds distracted and overborne by Satan. MH 91.1
In the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus was speaking of His mission to set free the slaves of sin. He was interrupted by a shriek of terror. A madman rushed forward from among the people, crying out, “Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” Mark 1:24. MH 91.2
Jesus rebuked the demon, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.” Luke 4:35. MH 91.3Read in context »