Authority of the Lord: the Demoniac Delivered

Authority of the Lord: the Demoniac Delivered

Demoniac at Capernaum.

(The Gospel History, Section 30)

And he came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching: for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. And straightway there was in the synagogue a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil; and he cried out with a loud voice, Ah, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had thrown him down in the midst and convulsed him he cried out with a loud voice and came out of him, having done him no hurt. And amazement came upon them all, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, and spake together one with another, saying, What is this? a new teaching! for with authority and power he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him and come out. And the report of him went out straightway everywhere into every place of the region of Galilee round about.

Authority of the Lord: the Demoniac Delivered

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book I Poem V)

With authority, had Jesus called the four,
Had bidden water that it wine became,
Had cleansed the temple, taught successive crowds
A power may be in the world a thousand years
And none discern it—know to give it name;
But he who finds that latent property,
And knows to name it, he doth serve the world!

And thou, Capernaum, lifted up to heaven,
To thee ’twas given to discern that note
Unheard ’mongst men till Jesus came and spake!
In synagogue ’twas heard that Sabbath day
When Jesus straightway entered in and taught,
And, lo, thy folk, astonished, could tell why!
Authority, they said, was in their midst,—
The absolute “I say,” I, who know all!
Not thus their scribes them taught: “Moses hath said,”
“The Fathers,” or, “the Prophets”; never, I.
Nor satrap, monarch, wise man of them all
Since time began had dared thus forth to stand,
Absolute, and teach men the thing he knew
Untaught of any, fixed as firmament!
Now this did Jesus only among men;
They of Capernaum had the grace to know
And give fit name to attribute in Him
Which no man shared or shall share. Grace to thee,
Thou city greatly honoured, and how fallen!
We, who come after, grieve, nor may forget
That thou discernedst Christ’s Authority,
And taught us how to name that thou didst see!

To him that hath is given; seeing much,
City high-graced, Capernaum saw ope
Another vista of dominion, ruled
By sole authority of the Son of Man!
A man beheld He in the synagogue
Which had a spirit of an unclean fiend:
(Be there now left no foul-mouthed, filthy souls
Would seem to have given them up to unclean works,
Who ope their lips to gibe, nor care at what?)
And here a chance to lay a snare for Christ
And vex the souls of the rulers. So he cries,
That soul unclean, “I know thee who thou art,
“Jesus of Nazareth; ah, what have we
“To do with thee, thou Holy One of God?
“Art come us to destroy before the time?”

Jesus, who knew, addressed Him to the fiend
In occupancy of that house of soul;—
Rebuking him, He said, “Hold thou thy peace;
Come out of him.” And, lo that ghost, unclean,
In their midst threw him down, convulsing him,
Cried out with a loud voice, and then—came out,
Leaving the man unhurt! “Why, ’twas no more
“Than epileptic fit; the man came to
“In natural course;” wise in our generation,
We explain: thus, any fool can tell by clock,—
“Now, it is night,” nor ever stop to think
The earth has turned his place from source of light:
So, “epilepsy” satisfies to-day,
A name as good as another: but the cause,
Mysterious play of good and evil thoughts
On bodily conditions, what know we
Of this, or, how beleaguered soul succumbs
To powers of evil sitting at his gates?
But this we know: when rage and hate get in
To our poor shattered keep, then, as a flood,
The enemy o’erwhelms; we are possessed;
Our thoughts are not our own, scarce so, our words;
Quick may we hurried be to awful deed
If habitude of prayer be not with us:
But if we cry on Him endured as we,
Lo, sweet and sudden peace possesseth us!
The flood of evil hath ebbed forth: we lie
Calm and restored at the dear feet of God!

Let him who never knew the like of this
Scoff at “possession” as a dream of fools!
They of Capernaum, ’ware of the devil,
Saw this sign with amazement; questionèd
Among themselves,—“New teaching! What is this?
“With Authority and power commandeth He
“The unclean spirits; and they, too, obey
“His word and straight come out! What thing is this?”
Ah, happy dwellers in Capernaum
To whom was secret of our peace made known,—
That at the word of Christ all ill possession,
All lust and sloth, all malice, envy, greed,
Steal forth as vanquished leaguers,—leaving Peace!

And straightway the report of Him went out
Through all the villages and towns about.

Who, seeing apple fall, discerned straightway
That law which keeps the worlds in ordered place,
And knew to give it name, deserves our praise:
Grace to thee, fallen city, more, hast done!
Thou didst discern that Potency undreamed
Of men, the secret of our peace, and knew
To give it title due, Authority—
That which no man had used in his own right
Till Jesus walked the plains of Galilee,
Hill country of Judæa, taught in towns:
Men were there who had acted in God’s name
Wisely and well: were those who had usurped
The place and power Divine; killed and enslaved,
Enriched and magnified, e’en as they would:
Capernaum distinguished Him from these:
Thou has graced us with a gift, Capernaum!

St. Mark i. 21-28;
St. Luke iv. 31-37