Stories of deliverance pepper the gospels. In every instance when confronting an evil spirit, Jesus took authority, banished the evil, and set the individual free. In fact, while on earth, “exorcist” may have been His most noted title in the community. The writer of 1 John describes Christ’s ultimate mission: “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8, NRSV). We know that a large percentage of the gospels is made up of miracle stories, many of which are exorcisms. Mark, for example, records four of the 13 healings as exorcisms. Because the culture largely understood sickness as a spiritual condition, it could be argued that any healing was a form of deliverance. Peter summarized: “[Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38, emphasis mine).
The Mission of Jesus
Why was the defeat of Satan so important to Christ that He devoted much of His earthly ministry, and ultimately, went to the cross for it? Because it was the only way creation could be restored back to the Father. Genesis records that God created a perfect creation where man enjoyed intimate fellowship with God and was given authority over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). By deception from the devil, however, man forfeited his dominion, handing creation into the grips of the enemy (Genesis 3:1-6). A new kingdom was formed; and so ensued a cosmic battle against God and the devil.
Loosening the Enemy’s Grips
Jesus entered a world governed by Satan, “the god of this world” — “the ruler of the power of the air” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). His earthly mission was military-esque: To dethrone this counterfeit kingdom to begin the redemption of creation. And so He did. Through His miracles, He disarmed Satan’s oppression over humanity. By His death and resurrection He triumphed over the powers of darkness, making “a public spectacle of them” (Colossians 2:15, NIV). With the endowment of His Holy Spirit, He gave you and me His same power (Romans 8:11), so that we too can “overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13-14).
“God also highly exalted [Jesus] and gave Him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
Jesus is given authority over spiritual powers, human leaders or difficult circumstances — anything with a name. His triumph over everything in opposition to God is just as active today as it was while He was on earth. The difference now is that we live in Christ’s victory and He shares His authority with us. In His Name, we too can do great and mighty works (Mark 16:17-18; John 14:12)!