In Jesus’ world illness of various kinds was due, people thought, to possession by demons. Today’s gospel portrays Jesus as one who has power over these supernatural forces of evil. He “rebukes” them.
Jesus too comes from the supernatural world. As God’s Son, however, Jesus has power over the evil forces in that supernatural world. That is why Luke, the gospel writer, tells us that Jesus “rebukes” the supernatural forces of evil. He rebukes the life-threatening fever which has laid Peter’s mother-in-law low. And he rebukes the demons in the many people who are brought to him for healing. Luke’s language shows that he is describing what we today call “exorcisms.” Freed from demonic possession, these people are healed at once. There is no period of convalescence. Peter’s mother-in-law, we heard, “got up immediately and waited on them.” Her healing helps explain Peter’s willingness, reported in the next chapter of Luke’s gospel, immediately to leave his work as a fisherman in order to follow Jesus.
The demons leave the other people whom Jesus heals, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” Unlike the many who witnessed Jesus’ healing and refused to believe in him, these evil inhabitants of the supernatural world recognize Jesus as a fellow inhabitant of that world – though unlike them a good one. Jesus rebukes them and does not allow them to speak, we heard, “because they knew he was the Christ”: the long awaited anointed servant and Son of God. Jesus did not want to acquire the reputation of a sensational wonder-worker. He was that, but he was so much more.
Especially significant is the information that at daybreak, “Jesus went to a deserted place.” Why? He needed to be alone with his heavenly Father. If Jesus, whose inner resources were incomparably greater than ours, needed those times alone with the Lord, we are fools, and guilty fools, if we think we can make it in reliance on our own resources alone.
That’s why we are here. To receive all the goodness, love, purity, and power of Jesus – our elder brother, our lover, and our best friend; but also our divine savior and redeemer. And when we have him, we have everything.