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§ 105. Difference between Christ’s Healing of the Demoniacs and the Operations of t/he Jewish Exorcists.

The so-called Exorcists were at that time practising among the Jews their pretended art of expelling demons; an art which they affected to derive from Solomon.233233   Joseph., Archaeol., viii., 2, § 5. Josephus appeals to a remarkable proof of this fact, which one of these exorcists had given before Vespasian in presence of part of the Roman army. See the Greek Testament of Solomon (written at a later period) in Dr. Fleck “Theologische Reisefrüchte,” iii., 113. The means which they employed were certain herbs, fumigations, and forms of conjuration. They probably possessed a dexterous legerdemain, and perhaps by natural agencies, aided by the imagination, could produce powerful effects for the moment, the cases of obvious failure being forgotten in those of apparent success. Had Christ produced only similar effects, their very commonness would have made them unimpressive. The moral and spiritual influences of Christ, proceeding from his immediate Divine power, were of a totally different character from these juggling tricks.

An excellent illustration of this is afforded in the account of the cure of the deaf and dumb demoniac, in Luke, xi., 14; Matt., xii., 22. Even the most hostile Pharisees could not deny that in this instance something was done which could not be explained by natural causes; and to obviate the impression which it made upon the multitude, and to prevent them from acknowledging the Divinity of Christ, they accused him, contrary to their own convictions, of being in league with the ruler of evil spirits, and of working his wonders by powers derived from that dark source. Christ points out the contradiction involved in their assertion, and showed that such works could be wrought only by the power of God, which alone could free the human soul from the dominion of the evil spirit. He designates this individual case as a sign 151that the kingdom of God, before which the powers of darkness must flee away, had manifested itself. He gives them to understand that the original source of evil in mankind and in men had first to be re moved, before its particular effects could be subdued. And from this it necessarily followed (he showed) that every casting out of evil spirits, every healing of demoniacs, which was not founded upon a victory over the original evil power, was only an apparent exorcism, and must be followed by a worse reaction. Thus the ordinary exorcists, who apparently produced the same effects as Christ, in reality did the very opposite. The evil was banished only to return with increased power.

He that does not work in communion with Christ, and by the power of the same Spirit, will, in producing effects apparently the same, bring about totally different results. He advances the kingdom of the devil, and not the kingdom of God.

The case of the Gadarene234234   Mark, v., 1. Luke, viii., 26. who was restored from raving madness to a sound mind by the Divine power of Christ, and who was so drawn to the Saviour that he wished to remain always with him, shows that the radical cure of the demoniacs consisted in this, that they who were freed from the evil spirit were drawn to the Spirit of God which had delivered them. Such a condition was perhaps to many the crisis of a higher life. In this way Mary Magdalene appears to have been brought into the narrower circle of Christ’s disciples.235235   Mark, xvi., 9.

The silence of John’s Gospel in regard to Christ’s healing of demoniacs may be ascribed to the fact that the disease was more common in Galilee than in Jerusalem.


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