And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;
I do not like this time of year. The Halloween season has grown darker and darker over the years and I just do not like it. Not one bit. There is a great deal of focus on the occult and on spiritual things. One writer posited that the druids — a sort of priestly order for the Celts — celebrated Samhain (pronounced something like sah-ween) as a time when the veil between the spiritual world and the physical world was thinned. There are many cultures that have similar holidays — I am thinking specifically of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Day — but they all share this idea of the dead and the living; the spiritual and the physical getting very close to one another.
Jesus, in this morning’s verse, called His disciples to Him and gave them power over unclean spirits and sent them out to preach the gospel. It is no accident that power over unclean spirits and preaching the gospel go hand-in-hand. Whenever the Good News is preached; whenever salvation is offered, there will be opposition from unclean spirits.
I suspect that the Holy Spirit, dictating to Mark, had something specific in mind when He juxtaposed the freeing of a man from demonic possession, the healing of a long-standing hemorrhage, the raising of a little girl from the dead, and this statement about the disciples being given power over unclean spirits. Placing them near one another and in that order may mean something. I am not going to pretend that I know what it is.
What I will do is walk through them and see what they all have in common. Specifically: the compulsion of someone to seek the power of God and the exercise of the power of God. The Gerasene demoniac was compelled by the demons to come kneel before Jesus and God’s power was applied to that man’s life, resulting in freedom he likely never knew before. The woman with the hemorrhage had been bleeding for twelve years (ironically, the same number of years Jairus’ daughter had been alive) and was compelled to find a cure for her suffering — a cure she found in the power of God acting in conjunction with her faith. The little girl; Jairus’ daughter had died and Jairus was compelled to come to Jesus because no one else could help. And God’s power raised this girl from the dead. Before Jesus calls His disciples to Himself, there is a brief story about how the folks in His home town did not belief and He did not do many miracles.
I, too, have been called to Jesus and sent out by Him. He commissioned all believers to go into the world and preach the Good News. Before I can go out and see the power of God at work, I must be compelled to come to Him; I must be called. And I must answer that call and obey that commission. Let me go out and seek to obey my Master’s commission to me. When I do, I will see God’s power at work and there will be victory over the unclean spirits — both those in my own life and those around.