Monday, November 28, 2011

Missio Dei - Communion message

Communion – a celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper

Jesus’ Last Supper was associated with the Jewish celebration of Passover.
Matt. 26.17-19 - On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

What was this Passover meal and what did it mean to the Jewish people?
The people of Israel went to Egypt to escape famine. They flourished there for a few generations. But a whole new regime came in that did not remember how valuable some of their ancestors were to the country. They grew suspicious of the Israelites and oppressed them and enslaved them. They cried out to their God and he heard them.
Exodus 6.5-7 - I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

Chapters 7-11 of Exodus reveal the signs of God’s power over and against Pharaoh and Egypt’s gods (in the form of plagues). God is ready to display his might one last time by destroying the first born of all of Egypt and preparing the way for the Israelites to leave Egypt and go to their own land. They were to have one last meal in Egypt that would serve as a constant reminder of what God had done for them.
The meal is described in Exodus 12
Verses 7-14 - Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs…This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance.
This lasting ordinance was reenacted every year that they were in the land.
Verses 26-27 - And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’”

The importance of this deliverance in the life and history of Israel.
Ps. 78.12, 42-3 – He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors in the land of Egypt…They did not remember his power – the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his signs in Egypt…
Ps. 81.4-7, 10 –Ps. 106.8, 10 –
Ps. 105.23-5, 37, 42, 44-5 – Then Israel entered Egypt…The LORD made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes…He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered…For he remembered his holy promise to his servant Abraham…he gave them the lands of the nations and they fell heir to what others had toiled for – that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.
We see that there were expectations on the people that God delivered. He made an agreement with them, a covenant, the Law. And they were to obey that covenant. God speaks to the prophet Micah of this agreement.
Micah 6 – I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you…then God discussed how he should be worshiped and obeyed. It wasn’t just the mere form of obeying the Law and the sacrificial system, he wanted their hearts as well – He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
When the people of Israel were reminded of the rescue from Egypt, when they pictured God as their redeemer, they were also to remember that they were to be obedient to God. They were to live like the redeemed. They were to model redemption.

Each celebration of Passover told the story of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt and the meaning of the various elements of the meal.
In times of exile or oppression (occupation) the Passover meal would have also celebrated the greatest act of deliverance but also looked forward to a great day when God again would deliver his people.
It is with this in mind that we discuss Communion.

We will look at Matthew’s account in chapter 26.26-29.
First, verse 26 - While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Jesus has come to give himself (his body) on behalf of his people. Jesus is the Word (the visible representation of God) who became flesh. And it is in this body that he paid the penalty for our sins to gain our deliverance:
1 Peter 2.24 - “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
It was through his physical body that he paid the penalty. We have deliverance from sin and death because of God doing this on our behalf through Jesus. Thus we begin to see a connection to the Passover.

That connection continues with the cup.
Verses 27-28 - Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
This recalls Moses in the desert, after the Passover in Egypt and their deliverance from Pharaoh’s army at the Sea of Reeds. Moses receives the Law, the covenant, from God on Mount Sinai. It is a promise from God that he will be their God and they shall obey his commands. Moses ratifies this covenant in
Exodus 24.6-8, where he offers a bull in sacrifice and takes the blood to impose upon the people how serious this commitment is –
Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Sometimes we are turned off by the mention of animal sacrifice and the use of its blood. But it had significance. The blood was seen as the life force of the animal and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. It shows that the covenant (and sin) is costly and cost something its life.

This idea of a covenant that Jesus is issuing is also found in the words of the prophet Jeremiah 31.31-34 - “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant… “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people… “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Listen to what he mentions, “a new covenant” and “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” One can definitely see the connection between Jesus’ words at his Last Supper and Jeremiah’s mention of a “new covenant”.

Verse 29 – I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Just as the celebration of the Passover meal in Jesus day was looking forward to a banquet at the end of times, when God overthrew all of Israel’s enemies and set up his complete Kingdom on earth, Jesus’ celebration of Passover looked forward. Jesus has offered us deliverance, but we long for a completion of his victory on earth.
Jesus here has in mind a final banquet at the end of times, when God completes his kingdom on earth that began with the resurrection and pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
In the OT, there was an expectation of an end times banquet.
Isa. 25.6-8 - On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
And we see Jesus pointing forward to some kind of final banquet when God inaugurates the completion of the Kingdom.
Matt. 8.11 - I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
(And there are other comparisons to the inauguration of the completed kingdom in some of Jesus’ parables that we will look at next semester).

Luke adds another element (that Paul picks up on). Luke records Jesus saying “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22.19).
Just as the Jewish celebration of Passover looked back to God’s deliverance from Egypt, our celebration of communion looks back to Jesus’ death on the cross. And just as, during times of occupation, Passover looked forward to a new day of deliverance, we are told to do this until Jesus returns.
1 Cor. 11.26 - For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
As we do this, we are expecting Jesus to return. Jesus tells us that he will eat and drink with us at that banquet when he completes and restores all things for all time.

We see that the early church took these words of Jesus seriously and celebrated this Supper of Jesus apart from the celebration of Passover. This was Luke showing how the early church carried out Jesus’ teachings (see Acts 2.42, 46; 20.7, 11; 24.30).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kingdom of God series: With the Kingdom comes...persecution?

This message was in conjunction with the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (see

With the Kingdom comes…persecution?
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. 5:10
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The key phrase…”because of me”.

Context: This command is from the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5-7). In Matthew, Jesus is portrayed as a new and better Moses. Moses was seen as the Lawgiver in the Hebrew Bible (received the Law on Mount Sinai). What we find in the Sermon on the Mount, is that often, Jesus quotes one of the commandments or one of the other rules from the Torah (or Law, like 5.21, 27, 31, 38) and he expounds on it, revealing the Spirit that God gave the command in. He wanted to deal with our sinfulness (both external and internal).
The people who heard this message would have been on the bottom rung of society’s status ladder. And here Jesus flips the entire social order based on his message and one’s reception of it. (The poor [in spirit], the meek/humble, the mourners, the persecuted…)

Blessed? On one level this word refers simply to being “happy”. But in this context, it refers to the happiness of those who participate in the kingdom announced by Jesus.  This is a deep inner joy of those who have long awaited the salvation promised by God and who now begin to experience its fulfillment.

Righteousness – a right relationship with God. That comes when one is rightly aligned with Jesus. We repent (change our agenda to match the King’s agenda), we are born of the Spirit and we begin a life of submission, obedience and allegiance to Jesus the King.
Righteousness here points to the character of the recipients of the kingdom. Those who display their loyalty to God will become the reason for their suffering. And they are to see their selves as blessed.
Their confidence in Jesus and what they hear and observe should produce a confidence in the future that can and should produce joy in the present in spite of their painful circumstances.

The result of righteousness is…persecution? Insults? People saying evil and untrue things about me? What kind of reward is that?
In another place, Jesus even expands on these “rewards”. “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.”

Ahh, reward in heaven. Eyes on the final reward.
They kept their focus on the final reward. I don’t think you can properly understand the book of Revelation without keeping the issue of persecution in your minds. There is a constant call from Jesus to “the one who is victorious” or “to the one who overcomes…” Revelation shows what the scene in heaven looks like, a portrait of praising the lamb who was slain (who also has experienced what they’ve experienced). This same lamb is the one “who sits on the throne” and to him be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever (Rev. 5:13)! There is even a scene where those who have been killed for their faithfulness to Jesus are shown to be serving Jesus day and night in his temple and experiencing his presence. Rev. 7:16-17. Earlier, these martyrs were asking how long until God would avenge their blood? They were told to wait until the full number of their brothers and sisters who were to be killed first (Rev. 6.9-11). Then, God would pour out his wrath on the wicked and judge the evil ones and avenge those who were killed for their testimony. This book was to assure those people who were suffering that Jesus was on his throne now and that he saw it all and was waiting, but that he would act.

Aligning with Jesus opens us up to the possibility of persecution. Jesus never promised us an easy life when we decided to follow him. In fact, his call to be a disciple is come and die.
Luke 9.23-24
He warns the disciples on several occasions:
Matt. 10.17 – Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. (But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it…)
John 16.2 – They will put you out of the synagogues, in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (Paul).
John 15. 18-21 - “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’
How different is this message from those who share “the gospel” or the plan of salvation with you and do not share these verses as well?

We see this played out in the life of the early church.
In the book of Acts, some of the early apostles are first arrested and then beaten because of their message (Acts 4.18; 5.40; 18.17; 21.30-32). One early follower was stoned (Acts 7.58-50). Some were brought before governing authorities (Acts 18.12-16; 24.2-9).
One of Jesus’ first twelve was executed (James the Greater, Acts 12.1-2). Paul was persecuted because he freed a slave girl from demonic presence and men who were making money off of her were angry (Acts 16.22-23). Paul and Silas were illegally beaten and imprisoned even though they should have been offered due process due to their privilege of Roman citizenship.
We see this played out throughout the rest of the NT. The readers of the book of Hebrews had experienced some type of persecution that included the confiscation of property (Heb. 10.32-34).
1 Peter is written at a time when his readers were experiencing persecution. “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…” (1 Peter 4.12, he goes on to connect the suffering of these believers to participating in the sufferings of Jesus).

Persecution is the backdrop of the book of Revelation with references to martyrdom throughout (6.9-11; 16.6; 17.6; 18.24; 19.2).
Jesus’ half brother, James was killed in the temple in Jerusalem according to early church historian Eusebius. Tradition states that he was thrown off the top of a wall around the temple, stoned and then clubbed to death.
Tradition of Paul and Peter’s martyrdom: Paul beheaded and Peter crucified upside down.
Roman historian Tacitus tells of the fire that burnt down % of Rome and Nero shifted the blame away from himself to Christians and began to torment them. Tacitus tells of the event where Nero had Christians dipped in pitch and set on fire to serve as torches in his garden at night. (Annals 15.44).
This movement spread in spite of brief, but at times intense, periods of persecution. Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimus Severus, Decius and Diocletian. These are some of the emperors who enacted state sponsored persecution over the first 300 years of the church’s life.

How God works it for good.
The early church actually seemed to value their experiences of persecution. After being flogged for preaching about Jesus, the disciples rejoice because they feel that they have actually been counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus. They are connecting what happens to them is what had happened to Jesus. Jesus predicted this. It is coming true and they’re rejoicing.
Think about that on one level. Jesus the king suffers and dies and yet he appears alive to them. He reveals that he is the true king. And all of the things that he predicted that would happen to them begin happening to them. Things like the appearance and power of the Spirit, healings, signs and wonders and…beatings!
After being stoned by a mob and left for dead, Paul reflects and tells his fellow believers “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14.22). Later on in one of his letters, he would write the chilling words of 2 Tim 3.12 - In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…

How does God let this happen to citizens of the Kingdom?
Jesus won our victory by becoming a sin offering and by letting the forces of evil do their worst to him and he overcomes them through his resurrection. We are to follow in his footsteps as we seek to be conformed to his image. We must experience the same things that he experienced.
Hebrews 5.8 states that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering.
There are several places in the writings of Paul that discuss sharing in Jesus’ suffering. Two places connect our sharing in his suffering to sharing with his glory (Rom. 5.3; 8.17). And one verse Paul seems to assume that if we want to know the power of his resurrection then we’ll want to share in his sufferings as well (Phil. 3.10).

It seems as if God used persecution to spread the message of Jesus in the early days of the church (as he may today as well).
In Acts 8.1-4 we see the result of the outbreak of full-scale persecution of the church:
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”

We can’t expect to follow Jesus into glory if we don’t follow him through the garden. That doesn’t mean that we should actively pursue persecution. Jesus cried out in the garden the night before his crucifixion, “Father, is there another way?” But when he receive his answer, he set forth boldly and looked toward the glory that he would receive by being obedient, he looked toward the gift of the Spirit he would bestow upon the church by his obedience and he looked toward the glory we all would share when he comes to complete his kingdom.
We may never experience that suffering. But we need to be aware that it is a possible part of following Jesus. We know that there are believers around the world who do not have the freedom to express their faith like we do here. How can we identify with them? When asked how we can help the persecuted church around the world, the first response is always, “Pray for us.”
Hebrews 13.3 - Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Kingdom of God is displayed in power

The Kingdom is displayed with power – Matt. 12.22-28

Context – Jesus heals a demon possessed blind and mute man. Crowds are amazed and want to know if Jesus is the “Son of David.” But of course, hatahs gonna hate. The say that Jesus’ power to drive out demons come from Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Jesus states that his ability to drive demons out of people is a sign that the Kingdom of God has come upon them.

Satan is identified by Jesus elsewhere as “the prince of this world” (John 16.11). Jesus showed in his exorcisms that the kingdom had broken into history. Jesus is invading Satan on his turf. Jesus does great damage to his territory. Jesus went around healing all of those who were under the power of the devil. 

How did Satan get this power?

For Jesus and the gospel writers Satan is the chief enemy of Jesus and the establishing of the kingdom of God. In Jesus’ ministry, especially in his exorcisms, Jesus gives evidence of the first stage of Satan’s defeat by casting out his servants from people.

We have to discuss, if God is sovereign (in control) and God is king, then why does Jesus call Satan the “prince of this world”? Why does he have power on the earth and the ability to terrorize God’s people (and those who aren’t God’s people).

There is not a real well developed outline of the origin of Satan and how he became the “prince of this world”. We see him in some form in the early days of creation. We find “the tempter” in Gen. 3.1-15 who distorts and contradicts God’s words to Adam and Eve (“Did God really say…”).
Question: what is he doing in the Garden of Eden? How did he get there? Like I said, nowhere does the Bible give a detailed account of his creation or his rebellion. There are some writings by Jewish theologians that speculate on where he came from and what his mission is.
In a writing called Wisdom of Solomon, it states “God…made man in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy (of man having this image), death entered into the world.
Another writing called The Life of Adam and Eve elaborates on Satan’s motive and his role in the fall of humanity. When one of God’s angels ordered Satan to worship the image of God in Adam and Eve, Satan answered, “I will not worship one inferior and subsequent to me”. Consequently God expelled the devil and his angels from heaven to the earth. Satan then explains to Adam “And immediately we were made to grieve, since we had been deprived of so great glory. And we were pained to see you in such bliss of delights. So with deceit I assailed your wife and made you to be expelled through her from the joys of your bliss, as I have been expelled from my glory”.
Other verses that have colored our view of Satan but are not explicitly describing Satan:
Ezek. 28.11-19 – This was a prophecy condemning the King of Tyre and predicting his downfall. The prophecy discusses his apparent greatness by describing his greatness and even his presence in the Garden of Eden. He is called a guardian cherub (angel like figure). He was expelled from the “holy mount of God” and thrown to earth because of his pride in his own beauty. He will eventually come to a fiery destruction.
In Isaiah 14.12-14 there is a prophecy condemning the king of Babylon. Again, this figure is has been cast down to earth. He is called the morning star (Latin: Lucifer). It was his pride (again) that was his downfall. He wanted to rule on a throne over God himself, he wanted to make himself like the “Most High.”
In both of these cases, this is a prophecy against foreign kings whose pride caused them to mistreat God’s people, they did not acknowledge God’s role in their rise. But you can see how these passages have colored the popular views on Satan’s origin and his original role in tempting Adam and Eve.

Satan’s role: Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, Satan appears to be this accusing presence that attempts to separate people from God.
1 Chr. 21.1 – “Satan rose up and incited David to take a census of Israel.” This act angered God because it was seen as a lack of faith. David was measuring his might instead of resting in the belief that God was the one who had given him all of his victories.
In two prominent passages, we see Satan in his role as “the accuser” which is what the term ha-satan means in Hebrew (or the adversary).
In the most famous passage, Job 1.6-2.7, Satan appears with the “sons of God” and opposes God by challenging the genuineness of Job’s right relationship with God, claiming that Job follows God because God has blessed him with wealth, family and good fortune. God allows Satan to strip Job of his wealth and kill his seven children. Job continues to follow and worship God, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” That’s not good enough for Satan, who accuses Job again. Job is now personally afflicted with a painful disease. And even though the rest of the book has Job questioning why God allowed this when Job has been so upright before him, Job does not lose his faith and continues to follow God. His wife believes that God hates Job and tells Job to “Curse God and die” already. Job’s reply shows his integrity: “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all of this, Job did not sin in what he said.

In Zech. 3.1-2 – we see Satan in his role as accuser. He tries to disqualify the high priest by accusing him of his past sins. But Satan’s accusations cause God’s goodness and glory to stand out, God has forgiven Joshua all of his sins despite the accusations of the accuser.

So if God is sovereign, and it appears from these passages (especially Job) that Satan’s power is limited to what God allows him to do, why is he still allowed to accuse and tempt God’s people? It seems that God allows this evil (and Satan’s accusations and his attempts to undermine him and his people) as a contrast to his goodness. And also, when God’s people remain faithful to Him, God receives even more glory as his people show themselves as committed to him. In the NT, Paul believes that Satan was allowed to torment him with a “thorn in the flesh” so that Paul would be reliant on God and his grace. His thorn made him in himself weak, but that forced Paul to lean more on God and his power than on his own strength. Therefore, Satan’s work actually gave God greater glory through Paul’s reliance on God’s grace.
So, perhaps God allows Satan to exist to test our faithfulness. If we remain faithful in spite of attack, God is glorified. When we encounter his opposition, we experience God’s grace and power when we rely on him for our strength and allow his power to work through us.

Now moving to the NT and specifically the ministry of Jesus, we see Satan as the adversary of Jesus. We see him tempting Jesus while he was fasting and praying in the wilderness (Matt. 4.1-11). He is the enemy of God’s work as he tries to snatch the word of God away from those who hear it (Matt. 13.39). He is called the “evil one” (Matt. 5.37; 6.13) and “the tempter” (Matt. 4.3). Jesus also calls him “the prince of this world” (John 16.11).

It is with this worldview of Satan and his power that Jesus came and announced that God’s kingdom had come. It was one thing to announce it, but Jesus displays evidence that it has come. He does so by attacking Satan on his turf.

Now we see Jesus displaying God’s power by casting out demons. And Jesus connects this display of power to the coming of God’s kingdom. How does it display this?
Like I’ve already said, Jesus has called Satan the “prince of this world.” We’ve seen what his role is. Jesus displays God’s power over the servants of Satan and tells a brief little parable that pictures Satan as a heavily armed man (prince) hoarding his possessions. His possessions are those who have been created in God’s image. This is consistent with the rest of the NT.
1 John 3.8-10 - The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.
Prior to our life in Christ according to Eph. 2.1-3, it seems that we followed “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” and Satan’s spirit was at work in our disobedience. This made us deserving of God’s wrath.
And the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (2.14-15) states that Satan has a limited period where he holds the power of death. He uses this power keep us subjected to him as, prior to our new life in Christ, we had a fear of death. We can see this as Satan distracts those who fear death with instant gratification (pursuing earthly pleasure) as a way to distract us from the pain and certainty that death provides (if we have no hope of eternal life that we receive from Christ.)

But these episodes, like Jesus casting out the servants of Satan reveal that not only was God’s Spirit and power working through Jesus but they were evidence that God’s kingdom had come to them and that Satan’s rule has been weakened (and in fact, Satan was becoming powerless over the people who belong to God’s kingdom).
In Acts 10:38 – Peter discusses how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
This was shown in him casting out demons (like this episode) but it may have shown itself in illness – Jesus offers freedom to a woman who had been tormented by disease by stating:
Luke 13:12, 16 – Woman, you are set free from your infirmity…Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
God’s power was displayed to in his ability to attack the devil and it was a sign that the power of God was with him (see Acts 10.38). Jesus is battling Satan on his turf.

These victories over Satan and his “spirits” show Jesus to be the Son of God. In fact the people want to know if Jesus could be “the Son of David”?
What did they mean by Son of David? This was a royal title. The messiah, or the great king who was going to rescue his people was to be a descendant of the model king of Israel. Their deliverer would be from his line. By asking this question about whether Jesus was the “Son of David”, they were wondering, could this man be the deliverer we have been waiting for? They were under the power of the Roman Empire. They could not understand why God’s chosen and holy people were under any kind of oppression. They eagerly expected deliverance. And that deliverance would come from a “son of David.” As you read through Matthew’s gospel, he definitely points out that, “Yes, Jesus is the son of David. He is the one who will deliver us.” But Jesus’ deliverance will not be from Roman occupation. It will not lead to a new government and an earthly king on an earthly throne in Jerusalem. The deliverance that Jesus will bring is release from the power and captivity of our sin and a rescue from Satan’s power.

NT Wright – Jesus is letting the people know that Israel’s God is powerful and active in and through Jesus. Jesus is showing that he has engaged Satan in battle. The exorcisms are not only the release from bondage for a few possessed people. For Jesus (and the gospel writers) they signaled something far deeper that was going on. Ministry was head-on war with Satan. Jesus regards his exorcisms (and the healings of those whose condition was attributed to the work of Satan) as a sign that he was winning the battle, though it had not yet reached its height.
On one level Herod Antipas is still in charge of Galilee and the Romans are the overlords of the entire middle east, but there is a different oppressor who is receiving a devastating blow and who will so be conquered.

If I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. This tells a story: Israel’s God will one day be king; the establishment of that Kingdom will involve the defeat of the enemy that has held Israel captive; there are clear signs that this is now happening; Israel is really being liberated.

What does this mean to us? Jesus has defeated Satan on his turf. It doesn’t always look like it, but he came to deliver us from the power of sin and death (both domains of Satan).
This all comes back to the fact that Jesus is the king. Those who submit to King Jesus find themselves no longer bound by Satan’s power. We no longer have to fear death. These are two of the areas of Satan’s power that Jesus has overcome on our behalf.
Col. 2.15 – Jesus disarmed “the powers and authorities (of Satan), he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Eph. 1.21-22 - Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand have placed Him “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion…God place all things under his feet…”

Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has already won the decisive victory over Satan. But, the battle still continues. The total separation between good and evil comes at the end. In the meantime, Satan’s goal is to keep people under his rule or to distract God’s people from giving glory back to God.
He snatches the word of God’s kingdom from hearts before the grasp its truth and submit to it (Matt. 13.19).
2 Cor. 4.4 - He blinds the minds of unbelievers “so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ…”
He will increase the intensity of his attacks on God’s people when he realizes how quickly his time is running out (Rev. 12.12).

Fortunately, Jesus has won the battle and has given us tools at our disposal to overcome Satan’s attacks.
Paul tells us that we need to put on the armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. That armor includes: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, our faith, our salvation and the word of God.
We are to call upon the power of the Spirit that our submission to Jesus gives us to actively resist Satan (see James 4.7 and 1 Peter 5.9).

We need to take comfort in knowing that as powerful as Satan is, he can do nothing apart from God’s permission (as we have seen in Job’s story). And perhaps we can learn from these episodes like Paul who saw that Satan’s attacks were opportunities to rely more fully on God’s power and grace so that God could get even more glory from Paul’s service.

We can perhaps learn from the early churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), who were undergoing intense persecution. They were encouraged by Jesus himself to be faithful and he promised great blessings to those who overcome the attacks of Satan through relying on the victory of Jesus.