Jesus taught us to love our enemies. This was something new, because loving your neighbor or friend was obvious, but to love your enemy? So He never said that we should not have enemies—He assumed we would… just like He did…and we were supposed to love them nonetheless. In the Old Testament no prophet ever advised God’s people to make sure that you had no enemies. It was understand that if a man or woman loves God with all their heart, and others as themselves, that they would still have enemies—-perhaps even enemies of a more intense variety. Living in harmony with everyone else is not possible in world where people follow Jesus Christ; obeying and serving God seems to stirs up hatred, animosity and enemies. That seems counter intuitive, but look at how hated Jesus was and all the enemies He made!
So, do you have enemies? I do. There are people out there that truly hate my guts. I don’t like it…it saddens me…but if you knew them, you probably would not judge me too harshly. I am far, far from perfect, but those that I know that are truly my enemies, are opposed to me because of what I believe in and stand for, more than for my questionable intelligence, objectionable opinions, improper actions or physical shortcomings. What are you “for” that makes folks not like you?
Victor Hugo once said, “You have enemies? So does every man (or woman) who has done a great deed or created a new idea. (An enemy) is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it (if you have enemies); Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.”
Look at anyone that’s accomplished anything worthwhile and you can see that what Victor Hugo said is true; you can always judge a man not by his friends, but by the quality of his enemies. A good man will never have enemies who are anything but petty and childish. Consider those that hated Moses, David, the prophets and Christ Himself.
When I first began to find that I had people that really did not like me, said bad things about me and hoped for my demise, and we truly my enemies, I was shaken.. and frankly quite depressed. But it is a part of living in fallen world. Maintain a luke-warm faith in Christ and you might live with no enemy your entire life. But believe passionately in something…..stand up for a noble or sacred cause…determine to fight for what is right—-and you will have enemies.
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
My point to all of this is that those we count as enemies are normally in great disagreement with our positions and beliefs, jealous of what we have, or offended by our very existence. But what they say about us, in their effort to get others to join them in hating us, is revelatory and significant. Sometimes they say things that are untrue, nearly true about, or even totally true. But an enemy never creates a compliment, positive observation or uplifting remark about you if they are truly your enemy. If something “good” is said about you from your enemy, it slipped and probably was not intended; an enemy does not say good things about you to build you up. Quite the contrary! They want to put you in your grave! You will never hear Putin saying anything congratulatory about Zelenskyy.
So why all this talk about enemies today. The message today is about what the greatest enemies of Jesus said to Him and about Him while He was on the earth. And again, remember, they were not trying to help Him, improve His attractiveness, or bring others His point of view when they spoke to Him. But unintentionally they offered more authenticity and proof to who Jesus is and why He came than any modern day apologist ever could. Theologians and liberal scholars might be unsure about who Jesus was , but Jesus’ arch-enemies, the demons, knew precisely who He was——and trembled because of it.
Okay, so here are the few times the demons spoke to Jesus and what they said:
First, the demon in the synagogue:
“ They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He<a>a> commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.”(Mark 1:21-28, N IV)
This is the first time it happened. The demon blurted it out! I know you! You are the Holy One of God!” The demons were afraid—-they knew who this man was and they were terrified! Don’t think for one second that the demons don’t know what they are up against. They’re not match for the Son of God—-or for those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Next it involved pigs:
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. (Matthew 8:28-32, Paraphrased)
Again, they knew who He was. But demons are not all-knowing, They had been having a hay-day in ancient Palestine and then Jesus, the second person of the Trinity appears, and they’re dumbfounded and shrieking because of their precarious situation. They’re not about to insult the King of Kings or slander Him. They knew better than that—-they’re not fools. They did not mess around with Jesus Christ——-neither should we. He had the power to send them into the abyss right then and there for eternal torment—they were shaking in their boots!
The next time Jesus rebukes the demons He was again healing the sick:
“While curing the sick, Jesus was approached by demons, who called out, “You are the Son of God!” Jesus rebuked them and ordered them not to speak because they knew He was the Messiah.” Again, they said what they knew was true and obvious and were very careful to not offend the Son of God! These demons knew the danger of mocking, insulting, lying against or showing a lack or disavowing Jesus Christ. They were not in His service—-they had lost that standing aeons ago—-but there was no denying that He was God in the flesh and they were but wretched little demons…..they knew their place.(Luke 4:41 Paraphrased)
The last time the demon merely shrieks! It had no words to offer! Mark 9:14-29 (Paraphrased)
A man came to Jesus and told him his disciples were unable to cast out a demon from his son. Jesus asked that the boy be brought to Him. Upon approaching Jesus, the demon caused the boy to convulse. The man told Jesus that the demon had forced the boy into fire and water in an attempt to kill the boy. The father asked Him to help “if you can.”
Jesus replied, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.”
“I do believe,” the man responded. “Help my unbelief.”
Jesus order the spirit to leave the boy. Once again, the demon made the boy convulse, and with a cry, the demon left. The boy laid on the ground motionless. His father thought he was dead, but Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him up. Later, the disciples asked why they were unable to drive out the demon. Jesus told them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Okay, so what? The demons were afraid of Jesus. Jesus was more powerful than they were—-we all know this. They hated then, and they hate all mankind. That’s quite obvious. But what strikes me is that these beings, evil as they were, would not deny what the entire universe knew to be true: Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God……He is the Holy One….He could have sent them on to hell with the snap of His fingers to be tortured for eternity…they could do nothing without His permission…at His sight they shrieked because they recognized His power, His authority and His connection to Almighty God.
The demons know who Jesus is. They call him the “Son of God” (Matthew 8:29).
They know that he has absolute power over them and can choose either to cast them out or not. There’s no negotiation here as if they were equal partners at the negotiating table; Jesus is superior, and they know it.
They know that in the future they are appointed for final torment. They wonder if Jesus has come to start that final judgment. They say, “Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). “We know there’s a time coming where we’re going to get final torment, but not yet, Jesus…please!”
Now, this is a simple question: Do you know what the demons know in this regard? The demons did not discuss the matter or argue about His ability to do this or that—-THEY KNEW THE TRUTH AND IT SCARED THE WITS OUT OF THEM. Do you know this Holy Son—-this divine being that is in total control even now?
One day, living or at the judgment, we will shout for joy….or we will shriek like the demons. I will be shouting for joy! What about you?