Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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Tor the first time then, upon coming back to his own town,
when the Sabbath arrived, Jesus entered the familiar place oi



woi ship, and stood up to read. The President caused the roll
of the Prophets to be handed him, and he turned
perhaps to the appointed lesson for the day, per- T es ^ srea
haps to what came under his eye as the roll
unfurled. It was what in our version is Isaiah lxi. 1, 2. lie
read : "The Sjririt of Jehovah is on me: because Jehovah has
anointed vie. To bring good tidings to the humble has he sent
me / to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim to the captives
freedom, and to the bounden perfect liberty : to proclaim the
year of favor with Jehovah." * He sat down. All eyes must
have been riveted on him. lie opened his exposition witli the
deliberate and solemn announcement of himself as the expected
Messiah, in the words, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your
ears." They all knew that the passage stood in the middle of
the third great division of the book of Isaiah, that which they
always considered as predicting the person, the offices, and the
triumphs of the Messiah. That made the announcement all the
more impressive. In words of hearty and moving eloquence
Jesus proceeded to expound Isaiah. " Gracious words," says the
historian, " proceeded out of his mouth."

As he pressed his doctrine of universal charity upon them, a
kingdom not restrained by Jewish limits and bearing no vengeance
against other peoples, their old traditional preju-

,". . , •, t mi „ , , 1 . Jesus shocks their

dices began to be excited. I hey recollected Ins pre - U(licea
obscure origin. They said among themselves, " Is
not this the son of Joseph?" As if they had said, Is not this a
most pretentious thing in so young and unknown a man ? Jesus
perceived their captiousness and said, "You will by all means
scornfully apply to me the proverb, Physician, heal thyself de-
manding me to do in my own country what you have heard that
I have done in Capernaum. I reply with another proverb. No
prophet is accepted in his own country. In coming among you

* This gives the words as they stand
in t be original, in a translation as near-
ly literal as practicable. The historian
Luke varies the passage a little. Pro-
bably he quoted from memory from the
Beptuagint, and so gives "recovering of
night to the blind" as a translation for
'* the opening of the prison to them (hat-
are bound," and inserts after it, "to set

at liberty them that are bound," appar-
ently taken from (he Beptuagint \ b
of "let the oppressed go free, "in [sa,
lviii. (i, as if to complete the sense
note, Si ping's Harmony.) The pi
" and t\v t hee
who thou art, the Holy of God." Jesus spoke sharply to him and
said : " Be silent and leave him." Then the "devil," or " unclean
spirit," threw him down, tore him, howled, and left him. And
the people were astonished, and questioned among themselves and
said, "What thing is this? what new doctrine is this ? for with
authority and power he commands even the unclean spirits, and
they obey him." This occurrence greatly and rapidly increased



tho fame of Jesus through all Galilee, for then, as now, a crazy
man was an object of general notice.

It brings us at once to the consideration of the perplexing ques
tion of what is ordinarily called demoniacal possession.

In examining this subject we have the disadvantage of not hav
ing in our own times anything that quite corresponds with this
remarkable class of phenomena, or which is recognized as falling
into this category of maladies. We are remitted to the ancient
writers, and must learn what we can gather from the notices in
the classical authors and New-Testament historians. So far as
the latter are concerned, it is to be noticed that the word used by
them in reference to all these cases is one which does not mean
the Devil, Satan, but demons. The classical writers, except when
they indicate by a special epithet the contrary, used the word
as describing good-natured, or at least not malevolent beings ; but
the New-Testament writers, on the supposition that they meant
beings distinct from the afflicted individuals, invariably repre-
sent them as sinister or positively malevolent. The
classical writers sometimes loosely employed the
word to mean any spiritual existences out of man,
from the spirits of the departed up to the Supreme Being, the
Father of the gods ; but when they pretended to be precise they
described them as intermediate beings between man and the gods.
Plato says: "Every demon is a middle being between God and mor-
tal." He further says, that " Demons are reporters and carriers fr< >m
men to the gods, and again from the »ds to men, of the suppli-
cations and prayers of the one and of -c injunctions and rewards
of devotion from the other." * There were two kinds of demons.
The souls of good men after their departure were called heroes,
and raised to the dignity of (lemons;}' and there were also sup-
posed to be demons who bad never inhabited a mortal body4
Philo§ says that the ancients held souls, demons, and angels as the
Bamc. The demons who had once been in human bodies became
objects of worship among the heathen, and Jehovah is so often
called '"the living God" to distinguish Bim from these.]

Thfe classical

* Plato, 8ympot., pp. 202, 203.

f Plutarch, De Defect. Orac, and
Plato, Cratyhu.

X Plato, Tim., and Apuleius, De Deo

g Philo, De Oigantibus,
\ Deut. xxvi. 11; Vs. cvi 28 ; I
viii. 19; Deut. v. 20.


Josephus* incidentally gives ns liis opinion, and we su] nose

the opinion commonly entertained by his country me/., of demons,

who, he says, "are the spirits of wicked men that
The Jewish enter ^^ the bo( j ies Q f t]ie ij vm an( j ^j fa em
opinions. °

if they do not obtain help."

The New-Testament historians seem to give the impression that

they believed in the existence of separate spirits, for they call

them irvev/jLara^ who were intelligent,;}: power-

The New-Testa- f u ] § ev ii | an d imc lean.l Whether they held the

ment writers. ..»-,-,

opinion or Josephus, that they were the spirits of
wicked men who after death entered the bodies of the living to
torment them, or used the word in the sense of the classical
authors, is a question we must examine in the light of all that is
said by these historians in their narratives of cases of apparent
demoniacal possession. In regard to those possessions there are
two theories, which may be stated with their reasons in advance,
and we shall see how far each accounts for the phenomena re-
corded in the biographies of Jesus which we possess. We are to
ascertain what was the opinion held by Jesus and the New-Testa-
ment historians.

It is held by some that Jesus and the writers severally called
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, believed that demoniacs were

persons into whom evil spirits had entered, who-

eory. ever j-i lose S pi r its Were, but generally supposed to

be devils, Satan's angels, who held or possessed the demoniac,

using his body for their evil purposes. The reasons assigned for

this opinion are these :

1. The demoniacs beseech Jesus not to torment them ; they ask
and answer questions in a rational maimer ; they are said to leave
men and enter swine, etc.

2. Physical diseases are mentioned of those possessed with dev-
ils, where no mental ailment is suggested, as in Matt. ix. 32, where
it is said that " they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a
devil;" and as in Matt. xii. 22, "one possessed with a devil, blind
and dumb."

3. In the case of the youth described in Luke ix. 39, the symp-

Wars of the Jews, vii. 6, § 3. | § Matt. viii. 28-32 ; Mark ix. 26.

f Compare Matt. viii. 16 ; x. 1 ; Mark
ix. 20 ; Luke x. 20.

tMarki. 24; Luke iv. 34.

i Matt. xii. 45.
\ Matt. x. 1.


toms are those of epilepsy ; but the father assigns them to the in-
Alien ce of a demon, and Jesus and his disciples say nothing tc
contradict this theory.

4. The demoniacs professed that they -were possessed of de-
mons, as in Mark v. 9, and the same was asserted by their nearest
relatives, as in Matt. xv. 22, and Mark ix. 17.

5. The writers of the New-Testament histories observe a dis-
tinction between those who were diseased and those who were
possessed. In Mark i. 32 it is recorded : " They brought unto him
all that were diseased, and them that were possessed of devils."
The same distinction is in the passage in Luke vi. 17, 18. It is
said that Jesns himself maintains the distinction in a very marked
manner in his commission to his disciples, recorded in Matt. x. S :
"Ileal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."

6. The demoniacs knew Jesus to be the Son of God and the
Christ, as we learn from Matt. viii. 29, Mark i. 24, and Luke
iv. 41 ; and Jesus forbade them from proclaiming him as the

7. There are at least five cases in which Jesus seems to address
demons as existences separate from the persons afflicted. These
are recorded severally in Mark i. 25 ; v. IS ; Luke iv. 35 ; Matt,
viii. 32, and Markix. 25. In the first case Jesus bids the demons
be silent, and in the last to enter no more into the person who
had been possessed.

8. Jesus connects Satan with the demons; as when the seventy
returned from their mission and reported that even the demons
were subject to them through the name of Jesus, lie replied (Luke
x. IS): "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." It is
also observed that in Matt. xii. 25, Jesus replies to the suggestion
of his enemies that he was casting out devils by Beelzebub, the

Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 17 of 77)