Why do you think Jesus could cast out demons? Because he was God? Ahhh, but he hadn’t yet defeated Satan on the cross and in his resurrection from death. So far, he had only defeated Satan’s temptations in the desert. Well, then was it because the demon-possessed man was ready to change his ways and avoid doing whatever had attracted the evil spirit? There’s no indication of that. Jesus kicked demons out of unconverted people all the time.
So, where did Jesus’ authority come from? Simply, the Father gave it to him. And Jesus passed it on to his disciples (see Luke 10:19) — which includes you if you believe in him and follow him and learn from him.
Authority was one of the temptations that Satan offered to Jesus (see Luke 4:5-8). Obviously, there is two kinds of authority: good and evil, or heavenly and worldly.
Good authority is based on love. Jesus didn’t cast out demons because he could. He did it because he cared. And since demons hate love — they can’t stand being around it, which is why they’re always fighting against it — when perfect love is what speaks to the demons, whooosh, they are gone.
Perfect love contains all the power of God, because HE IS love. Perfect love means caring so completely for the one who needs help that we are willing to go to the cross for them. We don’t love this well: Our selfishness and other sins get in the way. In our attempts to make up for this lack, we recite special prayers, such as “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle….” as if it were a magic formula. However, overcoming evil requires much more than calling upon angels or the Blessed Mother or other saints or even Jesus himself. It requires love: our own genuine, sacrificial, selfless, prayer-inspired love.
Evil authority has no love. It seeks to make us more important than others, it control others, it oppresses others, it ignores the needs and wants of others, it misses opportunities to serve others, it neglects to empower others to use their own God-given authority. It places us under the authority of Satan.
As we intercede for others and pray for our own lives, we can rely on Jesus’ authority, but we must not suppose that he’s going to do anything other than love. And love is no quick fix. It takes time to overcome evil, and as we wait, we are given multitudinous situations in which we can grow in our own ability to love. Thus, Jesus passes His authority on to us.
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© 2001 by Terry A. Modica
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