Demon’s Recognition of the “Son of God”

Gospel accounts of the supernatural realm of principalities recognizing Jesus as the Son of God came in a specific hierarchical sequence. The archangel Gabriel announced to Mary her miraculously conceived baby would be the Son of God although no one on Earth had yet to recognize him as such.[1]

First of the supernatural powers to distinguish Jesus as the Son of God was by none other than God, Himself. Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Voice of God called out: [2]

MK 1:11 “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (NKJV)

John the Baptist testified to what he had seen and heard that day when he baptized Jesus of Nazareth. “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”[3]

Fasting for 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism, Satan approached Jesus in his emaciated condition. Satan cunningly began his temptations saying to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” Nevertheless, Jesus quoted from the Scriptures to successfully rebuff the temptations.

Jesus began his public ministry traveling from Nazareth to a Capernaum synagogue where he taught. A man in the audience was possessed by an “unclean demon” and its voice cried out: [4]

LK 4:34 “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (NKJV)

Commanded to be silent and to come out of the man, the demon threw him down into convulsions, then came of the man leaving him unharmed. Those who witnessed the exorcism were “amazed” exclaiming Jesus was someone of authority and power causing his fame to quickly spread.[5]

It would not be the only instance when demons proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. Mark and Luke wrote that whenever demons saw him, they forced their hosts to fall down before Jesus crying out, “You are the Son of God.”[6]

Mathew, Mark and Luke record another especially harrowing encounter with a demon-possessed man in the Gerasenes (Gararenes) region on the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee.[7] He lived nake without a house among the tombs and could not be restrained by anyone – chains and shackles would only be broken into pieces. Obviously, out of fear people avoided the area of the tombs.[8]

Arriving by boat from across the Sea of Galilee, the demon-possessed man spotted Jesus, ran to him and bowed down before him. A voice of the demon within the man cried out asking for mercy:

MK 5:7 “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” (NKJV)

Appealing to Jesus by the name of God for mercy, the demon demonstrated Jesus was subject only to the authority of God. The evil entity also recognized that Jesus had complete power and discretion over the demons.

Asked for his name, the demon answered Jesus saying, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”[9] When Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man, Legion implored Jesus for mercy not to be thrown into the abyss; instead, asking that they would be allowed to enter a nearby herd of swine.[10] Jesus granted the request and the demons entered the herd of pigs which then charged down a steep hill into the sea and drowned.

Herdsmen of the hogs ran into the town and told their story of what had happened. A crowd gathered and went out to see things for themselves. They saw the former fearsome demon-possessed man clothed and calmly sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Fear gripped the crowd imploring Jesus to leave them alone. Jesus honored their request telling them to return to their homes and he sailed back across the sea. Meanwhile, the healed man proclaimed throughout the town what Jesus had done for him.

The Book of Acts, written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke, recounts another demon encounter that did not end well. Some Jewish exorcists, the seven sons of high priest Sceva, attempted to invoke the name of Jesus saying to the demon, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”[11] 

Not impressed by the authority of their command, the demon retorted, “I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?”[12] By the words of their own command, they did not acknowledge the power and authority of Jesus, rather only the person about whom Paul was preaching.

The demon reacted by causing the possessed man to overpower the seven sons and beat them to a point they ran from the house naked and bleeding. Word spread throughout Ephesus causing fear and praise for the name of Jesus.[13]

Accounts of the exorcisms carried such a degree of credibility, the enemies of Jesus believed the witnesses.[14] Rather than believe Jesus was performing the exorcisms by the power and authority of God, the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub, another name for Satan. In response, Jesus asked two rhetorical questions:

LK 11:18-20 “”If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (NKJV)

In the supernatural realm, God was the first to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as His own son. Secondly was Satan followed thirdly by his demons who recognized and bowed down to Jesus as the Son of God. What then should mortal people believe?

 

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REFERENCES:

[1] Luke 1:30-32, 35.  CR Matthew 1:20-22.
[2] Mark 1:11. Luke 3:21-22.  NKJV. CR Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:32-33.
[3] John 1:32-34. NKJV.
[4] Luke 4:34. NASB. CR Mark 1:24.
[5] Mark 1:27-28; Luke 4:36-37.
[6] Mark 3:11. Luke 4:41. NKJV. CR Mark 9:17-27; Luke 6:18.
[7] Matthew 8:28. NetBible.org. Footnote 1.
[8] Matthew 8:29-34; Mark 5:1-13; Luke 8:26-39.
[9] Mark 5:9. NET.
[10] Luke 8:29-33.
[11] Acts 19:13. NET. Acts 19:13-17.
[12] Acts 19:15. NET.
[13] Acts 19:13-17.
[14] Matthew 9:34, 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15.

Sanhedrin Insider Sources – Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea?

One of the mysteries of the Gospels is how the authors gained knowledge of inner workings of the Jewish Council. Two possibilities were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea – actual ruling members of the Sanhedrin’s Jewish Council.[1]

Early on, Nicodemus wanted to learn more about this new celebrity, Jesus of Nazareth. With his stature in the Jewish Council, it seemed to open the door to set up a meeting with Jesus. Great caution was necessary with Jesus being the archenemy of the Council; where exposure of their meeting could have dire consequences.

Taking the big risk, they agreed to a secret night-time meeting. An unofficial summit, so to speak, where one of the rulers of the Jewish Council, Nicodemus, met clandestinely with the leader of its archnemesis, Jesus of Nazareth.

Miracles performed by Jesus rang an element of truth with Nicodemus asking, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”[2]

It was the response that completely threw Nicodemus when Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Incredulous, Nicodemus asked, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”[3]

For a Pharisee who prided himself for righteously following the letter of the Law, a single act, to be born again was an entirely foreign concept. It was completely contrary to Judaism’s beliefs which does not provide a clear path to the afterlife.[4] Pulled from a MyJewishLearning.com webpage header: “We Don’t Know, So Must Make Our Lives Count.”[5]

Jesus continued, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”[6] Explaining further led to the most famous quote of Jesus in all the Gospels, often seen on signs and T-shirts at major sporting events and the name of a song by country music superstar, Keith Urban, “John 3:16”:[7]

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

Next in the Gospels came another incident involving Nicodemus, a confidential meeting among the Jewish Council members themselves. The scenario would not otherwise be known unless someone who was present during the private meeting divulged the details to John.

Sanhedrin officers had been sent to listen to Jesus hopefully teaching heresies, then bring him back to the chief priests and Pharisees. When the officers returned emptyhanded, the Council authorities were baffled and asked, “Why didn’t you bring him back with you?” The officers responded, “No one ever spoke like this man!”[8]

Nicodemus asked his fellow Sanhedrin peers, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”[9] For asking this, they mocked Nicodemus, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”[10]

At the crucifixion scene of Jesus another Sanhedrin Pharisee is introduced, Joseph of Arimathea, a Judean town.[11] Joseph is identified as a rich man, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin Council and a follower of Jesus.[12]

Joseph first appears in all four Gospel accounts in the scene when Jesus hung dead on the cross. Taking great courage to overcome his fear of both the Sanhedrin and the fearsome Roman ruler who ordered Jesus to be crucified, Joseph approached Pilate to ask for the body.[13]

Arriving before the execution squad Centurion’s report, Pilate was surprised to hear Jesus was already dead.[14] Pilate first wanted confirmation from the Centurion that Jesus was, in fact, dead.[15]

Forced to wait for a decision, it was no doubt nerve-wracking – a despised Jew waiting in the Roman government local headquarters. Upon confirmation from the Centurion, Pilate granted the body of Jesus to Joseph.[16] Knowledge of these distinctive details were limited only to the Romans present with Pilate and Joseph.

Back at the Golgotha crucifixion scene, Joseph claimed the body from the Roman quaternion. He was joined by none other than Nicodemus who brought 75 pounds of burial spices, a mixture of myrrh and aloes – very specific details.[17] Together, the two Pharisee Council rulers carried the body of Jesus to the nearby unused tomb owned by Joseph where they wrapped the body in linens with the burial spices according to Jewish custom.[18]

In the next phase of the Gospel accounts, the Resurrection, neither Nicodemus nor Joseph are mentioned again, but they are still part of the story. As rulers within the Jewish Council, if not present, they were at least aware the Council again approached Pilate the next day on the Sabbath.[19] It was again a meeting with only the Romans, namely Pilate with his staff, and the Jewish leaders in attendance – none of the followers of Jesus were present.

Affirming to Pilate that Jesus was dead and buried, the Jewish authorities requested a means to secure the tomb to protect against theft of the body by followers of Jesus. To convince Pilate, they had to acknowledge Jesus prophesied he would rise from the dead after 3 days.[20] Pilate seemed annoyed by yet another meeting with the Jews and told them to secure the tomb as best they could.

No one had informed the followers of Jesus about the joint Roman-Jewish security actions. The exclusivity of the information is demonstrated by the women of Galilee who planned to go to the tomb at sunrise after the Sabbath thinking they could gain access to the body of Jesus. They wondered if anyone would be there to help roll away the stone from the entrance.[21]

How did the Gospel authors obtain insider information on the Jewish Council plans to trap and kill Jesus, their conversations, quotes from the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus, their request of Pilate to secure the tomb, and the chief priest’s response to the koustodia’s report of the missing body of Jesus? At least one insider or more within the Jewish Council had to be the source or sources of this information.

As ruling authorities within the Sanhedrin Jewish Council, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were privy to the inner workings the Jewish leadership. Each was called out by name in the Gospels. John, the eyewitness author, even quoted Nicodemus.[22] Was the insider source one of them, maybe both or perhaps someone else?

Insider information of the Jewish Council, if true, lends significant credibility to the truthfulness of the Gospels. One key consideration goes unstated making it a fact of silence – the Jewish Council did not deny the statements or actions of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea as written in the publicly distributed Gospels.

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:;

[1] John 12:42. John 3:1. Net.Bible.org. Greek text. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Joh&chapter=3&verse=1> “archon <758>” Net.Bible.org. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=758>  Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50. Net.Bible.org. Greek text. <http://classic.net.bible.org/search.php?search=Arimathea&mode=&scope=> “bouleutes <1010> Net.Bible.org. 2020. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=1010>
[2] John 3:2. NIV.
[3] John 3:4. NRSV.
[4] Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews. Book II, Chapter VIII.14. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false> Moffic, Evan. “Do Jews Believe in an Afterlife?” ReformJudaism.org. 2020. <https://reformjudaism.org/practice/lifecycle-and-rituals/death-mourning/do-jews-believe-afterlife>  Gilad, Elon. “What Is the Jewish Afterlife Like?” Haaretz.com. 2019. <https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-what-is-the-jewish-afterlife-like-1.5362876>
[5] Rose, Or N. “Heaven and Hell in Jewish Tradition.” MyJewishLearning.com. 2020. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/heaven-and-hell-in-jewish-tradition>
[6] John 3:6. NET.
[7] Rossen, Jake. “The Unbelievable Life of the ‘John 3:16’ Sports Guy.” 2017. <https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/500515/unbelievable-life-john-316-sports-guy#:~:text=The%20%22John%203%3A16%22,%2C%20but%20have%20everlasting%20life.%E2%80%9D>  Urban, Keith. “Keith Urban – John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 (Official Music Video).” YouTube.com. 2015.< https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GCEB_enUS885US885&ei=X8ffXtCaI8-WsAXMz4fIAg&q=john+3%3A16+keith+urban&oq=john+3%3A16+keith+urban&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzoECAAQR1CC2hBYpO4QYP_wEGgAcAN4AIABSIgB_QSSAQIxMZgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiQxsi_ofXpAhVPC6wKHcznASkQ4dUDCAw&uact=5>
[8] Luke 7:45. NET.
[9] John 7:51. NKJV.
[10] John 7:52. NSRV.
[11] Luke 23:51.
[12] Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50-52, John 19:38. Mark 15:43. Net.Bible.org. Footnote #1. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Mar&chapter=15&verse=43#> Luke 23:50. Net.Bible.org. Footnote #2. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Luk&chapter=23&verse=50>
[13] Matthew 27:58-59; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51-52; John 19:38.
[14] Mark 15:44.
[15] Mark 15;44-45.
[16] Luke 23:51.
[17] Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17-19, 39. CR Luk3 23:33.
[18] Matthew 27:57; John 19:40-42.
[19] Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:54; John 19:42.
[20] Matthew 27:62-27.
[21] Mark 16:3.
[22] John 3:1, 4, 9; 7:50, 19:39.