Read yourself or listen to the author read it for you.

Imagine if you had been there to actually hear Jesus speak. His words brought amazement, conviction, hope, healing, miracles, and comfort as well as anger and terror. He knew how to play to His audience. His kind and gentle demeanor faded when faced with the conniving self-serving religious and political oppressors. He knew when to be quiet. He  answered questions with stories or, in some cases, responded with what seems like total non sequiturs.

Some heard His call and followed. Others chose riches or religion instead. Multitudes listened in stunned amazement and had their lives turned upside down. Relatives heard Him and declared Him insane. His words were described as gracious by the crowds. But there was one group who unquestioningly believed and obeyed Him – the demons. “Then, as the sun was setting, all those who had friends suffering from every kind of disease brought them to Jesus and he laid his hands on each one of them separately and healed them. Evil spirits came out of many of these people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he spoke sharply to them and would not allow them to say any more, for they knew perfectly well that he was Christ.” Luke 4:40-41  I wonder where we would have been in that landscape?

Jesus’ words have been sterilized, religionized and rationalized in our time. His radical teachings have become platitudes deemed either unattainable or greeting card ‘warm and fuzzies’.  Sadly we live as though they are mostly irrelevant or optional for our life choices. We now, thanks to current wisdom, get to interpret the Bible predominantly through the lens of literature, philosophy or poetry rather than as “words that will never pass away”. That gives us peace of mind as we set about to rewrite the character of God to fit our own present day sense of morality. Those who tried that before us, the ones who dismissed the Word of God to establish their own code of morality, did not fare so well. They ended up crucifying the Lord of glory, thinking they did God a service. (Hmm, didn’t Jesus mention that something like that would happen to His disciples right before His return?)

History repeats itself. The days of Noah are upon us, and Jesus warned that the most prominent marker would be deception. ‘Has God said???’  “… the Spirit very clearly tells us that in the last times some will abandon the true faith because of their devotion to spirits sent to deceive and sabotage, and mistakenly they will end up following the doctrine of demons…” 1 Tim 4:1V  Believing demons, in fact.  “So you believe that there is one God? That’s fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder in terror!” James 2  

What are the demons teaching theses days? We would do well to figure it out. Their strategy is not hidden, but the prevailing wisdom is that we cannot really know the truth – contrary to Jesus’ assertion that we could and that it would set us free. Although fallen angels tremble at His voice, they must be pleased with their efforts to distort it to the race He loves so well. For example, the context of that verse in James is basically a rebuke of the “ticket to heaven” Gospel that is so popular today. “To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, “So you believe that there is one God? That’s fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder in terror!” For, my dear short-sighted man, can’t you see far enough to realize that faith without the right actions is dead and useless.” Ja 2:18-20  Yet we seem content to trust that a life of intellectual agreement that “Jesus saves” is sufficient. Or that we can’t know so why try?  Effective error is so close to truth.

So we study the Book. Oh sure, there is plenty of room to explore the settings, the culture and background of those whose pens wrote it down. In fact that endeavor can enhance the relevance of the message if we are not looking for loopholes. The Pharisees were Scripturally fluent but they did not recognize the very Author when face to face with Him. Could that happen to us? On the other hand, the demons then and now had no doubt about Who they were dealing with. For us the question is the same one that Jesus asked back then  – “And what is the point of calling me, ‘Lord, Lord’, without doing what I tell you to do?” Luke 6:46

The demons obey because they must. We choose how we respond to the same voice that calmed the seas, spoke life into the dead, brought calm into chaos, and invited each of us to follow Him. “He who has ears let him hear.”   Selah

Here is a bonus reading for your consideration:

Then Jesus added, shouting out to all who would hear, “Listen with your heart and you will understand!”” Luke 8:8 TPT

His disciples heard the words (of the parable), but the deeper meaning eluded them.

Disciples: What were You trying to say?

Jesus: The kingdom of God contains many secrets.They keep listening, but do not comprehend;  keep observing, but do not understand. I want you to understand, so here’s the interpretation: The voice of God falls on human hearts like seeds scattered across a field.  Some people hear that message, but the devil opposes the liberation that would come to them by believing. So he swoops in and steals the message from their hard hearts like birds stealing the seeds from the footpath.  Others receive the message enthusiastically, but their vitality is short-lived because the message cannot be deeply rooted in their shallow hearts. In the heat of temptation, their faith withers, like the seeds that sprouted in gravelly soil.  A third group hears the message, but as time passes, the daily anxieties, the pursuit of wealth, and life’s addicting delights outpace the growth of the message in their hearts. Even if the message blossoms and fruit begins to form, the fruit never fully matures because the thorns choke out the plants’ vitality. But some people hear the message and let it take root deeply in receptive hearts made fertile by honesty and goodness. With patient dependability, they bear good fruit.”

…I hope you’re still listening. And I hope you’re listening carefully. If you get what I’m saying, you’ll get more. If you miss My meaning, even the understanding you think you have will be taken from you.

Luke 8:9-15, 18 V