One of the themes of the Bible is that we all face enemies in this life. Sometimes we may consider them a mere matter of circumstance, but even nowadays we are talking about someone who “fights temptation” or “fights cancer”. When someone dies, we say they have “lost the battle”. There is a reason why this kind of language suits us. The Bible speaks of this sin-cursed world as a battlefield.
In Genesis 3, after sin and death entered the world, God makes the first statement of promise: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will crush your head, and you will hurt his heel. (Genesis 3:15) God speaks of an ongoing war that will culminate in a final battle where there will be a clear winner and a clear loser. Although temptation, sickness and disease would reign in the world, they would be overcome.
The Bible can therefore be seen as an account of this battle and the lineage of the woman from whom the promised offspring would come. As we study our way through the Gospel of Luke, we can see it clearly in relation to this in Luke 8:26-56. It’s a long portion of Scripture that has three scenes. They pass, apparently disconnected, but they are not.
The first scene is a stop at a place called Gerasene, where Jesus and his followers would run into a demon-possessed man. He was a man who could be bound with chains and shackles, only to free himself from the supernatural force. When we come face to face with Jesus, we learn that he is not just one demon, but many. They reply, in unison, that their name is “Legion”. The story of Genesis 3 sets Adam, the son of God, against the Serpent. Here we have Jesus versus Legion. Adam should have crushed the Serpent, but didn’t. Jesus is not at the point where he will crush the Serpent, but he commands them to leave the man and they must obey! Jesus has the authority of God, and the demons don’t stand a chance.
The second scene brings us to Jesus being met by a man named Jairus, whose daughter was dying. He begs Jesus to come and heal her, and he answers. He wants to heal the young girl, because he came to overcome Satan, sickness and death. But on the way, the third scene imposes itself.
A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years also wishes to be cured. She pushes her way through the crowd and touches the hem of her dress. Instantly, she is cured. She knew if she could get a hold of Jesus, she’d be all right, and she was. To his surprise, however, Jesus remarks, “Who touched me? It was just a light touch, and so many others were touching him. How could he know what she had done? Terrified, she comes forward and Jesus says: “Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace.”
Just then, however, Jairus learns that his daughter is no longer dying. She is dead. She lost her battle. They say to him, “Don’t bother the Master any longer”, that is, Jesus. But he will not be discouraged. He came to overcome Satan, sin and death. He said to him: “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she’ll be healed. You can imagine the fear and frustration Jairus would feel. Does he believe this man? Finally, he trusts her and her daughter is cured! Jesus even conquers death.
This is the reason why Jesus came from heaven to earth and was born of the Virgin Mary. This is why he suffered, was buried and died. This is why he rose from the dead. The whole story holds together and reminds us of the battles we face. Each of these scenes: the demonic, the sick woman and the dead little girl represent the enemies we face: Satan, sickness and death. The Gospel of Luke was written to show us that Jesus is that offspring of Eve who would defeat all our enemies. He does this in an unusual way, however, as he faces them and dies on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus is his final victory, just as our resurrection will be ours. We face many enemies in this life, but we take to heart that Jesus defeated them all and we must trust Him and we will be saved.
— Everett Henes, pastor of Hillsdale Orthodox Presbyterian Church, can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.