Mark 1:23-24 – There was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!”

What a powerful beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The enemy’s dominions could not hold their peace in the presence of their judge. When the Scripture says, “he cried out” it is speaking of the unclean spirit in the man using the man’s voice to communicate. The man was not some mentally deranged individual. That kind of person would not have been allowed in the synagogue. He appeared normal, as many do, but he had an unclean spirit that controlled areas of his life.

The spirit in the man recognized Jesus as his destroyer. He asked Jesus, “Have You come to destroy us?” He spoke as a representative of other spirits in the man or spoke of the demonic realm in general. The spirits knew a day was coming when God would put an end to their existence. He knew that they would be destroyed by “the Holy One of God”. As you continue in this passage you find Jesus did not accept the spirit’s confession of His deity or His humanity, but rather “rebuked him, saying, ‘be quiet, and come out of him’! Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him” (Mark 1:25-26). The scene was messy, noisy, and a bit violent. This is not what most people want to happen in a church meeting. This kind of scene happened quite regularly in Jesus’ ministry. When the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God collide, it is a violent encounter.

In Matthew chapter 12, we receive more understanding concerning these two kingdoms. Read the whole chapter for context. We find the religious leaders of Jesus’ time telling the people that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus countered their views with powerful responses, one of which was a parable. “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45). Jesus is saying that generation was demonized. Later, in Mathew 23:13-39 Jesus gives eight scathing woes to the religious leaders. In Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, He cries out that “your house is being left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

As the Gospel is preached in power, as supernatural manifestations of God’s Holy Spirit increase, as we draw nearer to the Lord’s coming, the kingdom of darkness will also manifest its evil, its violence, and its absolute resistance to God and His people. We are called to set individuals and nations free, those held captive to Satan’s power.

Father, I pray for increased understanding of the unseen world. Help me to know how to pray and to be used to set those free who are held captive by the enemy’s power. I pray for Your divine protection as we encounter the enemy and his dominions. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done.