Silencing the Demons

He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Mark 1:34b

Jesus would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. He silenced them by his command. I’ve seen a couple of ways of dealing with this prohibition on Jesus’ part.

Some point out that in the shamanistic world of demons, to know the name of the opposing spiritual power is to have power over them. In this view, there is a kind of contest going on between Jesus and the demonic forces. Jesus silences the demons in order to take away whatever power they might have.

To me, this approach doesn’t fit well within Mark’s narrative. In Mark, the demons don’t appear to be any sort of a threat to Jesus. The Son of God speaks; the demons obey.

For others, this is simply a strategic move on Jesus’ part. Jesus wants to get his own message out in his own way and his own time, in order to achieve his own objectives. The demons won’t tell the whole story. Their version of who Jesus is may be even be correct as far as it goes, but at best it will be incomplete. By silencing the demons, Jesus keeps his information campaign under his own control.

The observation that the demonic confession is accurate but incomplete is correct as far as it goes. By interpreting Jesus’ actions within the context of leadership theory or messaging campaigns, I think this interpretation also misses the mark. Our age wants to know how great leaders lead. What is their strategy? How do they reach their campaign objectives? Mark wants to tell us about Jesus’ greatness as well, but his 1st century answers don’t necessarily fit well with our 21st century categories.

What if Jesus’ purpose in silencing the demons was simply to silence them. They knew who Jesus was, but they had no right even to speak his name.

The confession that Jesus is Lord belongs on the lips of those who live by faith in him. It belongs on the lips of those who belong to his kingdom. Any other use of Jesus’ divine identity is a travesty, a taking of the Lord’s name in vain. Those who do their best to destroy God’s kingdom speak the kings’s name only at their own peril.

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