Conduits of Healing and Liberation, Part 3

Conduits of Healing and Liberation, Part 3 February 1, 2024

Healing and Liberation


Next Jesus embarks on an itinerant circuit throughout Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, or the good news of the arrival of God’s just world within the synagogues throughout Galilee. The story makes a point to specifically name that the gospel work includes “driving out demons.”

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(Read this series from the beginning at Part 1 and Part 2.)

Preaching the arrival of God’s just world in the synagogues includes exorcisms performed in the synagogues. These exorcisms aren’t anti-synagogue, anti-Jewishness, or anti-Sabbath. Instead they’re opposing the Roman Empire coopting the synagogue and the Sabbath. They’re oppositng the complicity of those in power with the Roman Empire. They’re opposing the Empire’s possession of sacred places in both space and time. 

As I shared last week, whatever we make of it through our scientific lenses today, exorcism was a common practice in Jesus’ world. That practice typically gathered zero pushback from the establishment. But Jesus’ exorcisms in Mark’s gospel are different. Those in power push back against Jesus’ exorcisms immediately, and are threatened by them. This is because exorcism in Mark is a metaphor for exorcising Rome (see Mark 5:9):

Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:6)

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” (Mark 3:22)

So what are we to make of Mark’s stories of exorcism and healing in our post-enlightenment world today?

Through rising Christian nationalism, a political party has coopted evangelical Christianity. Misinformation takes advantage of vulnerable White Christians through their personal biases and bigotries. Partisan fidelity has “possessed” evangelical Christianity to the point that, like those in the exorcism stories in Mark, they simply cannot free themselves. To those outside of Evangelicalism, it’s quite puzzling how those who claim to follow Jesus can be so loyal to such an unChristlike ideology. Evangelical Christianity today needs an “exorcism” from demons like White supremacy, Christian nationalism, heteropatriarchy, and authoritarian totalitarianism. Just as the injustices of the Roman empire coopted the Temple state in Jesus’ community, our societal demons today have possessed larger sectors of Christianity.

The good news in the Jesus story is that we see the Jesus movement grow from the margins of Galilee through nearby villages to “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

And today, whether we use Christian language to describe it as the kingdom, God’s just world, or the reign of God or use more accessible language about the way of distributive justice, the way of love, and the way of compassion and caring, our justice work can continue to grow, too. We may feel like our justice work is small, and it may be beset by contemporary obstacles, but we should never underestimate the power of local efforts toward making our communities a safer, more just place for everyone. We may feel like we are only working in a “nearby village,” but every act, big or small, has a ripple effect and we never know just how far those justice ripples will travel. Today, as Jesus followers, we too can “cast out” the demons of injustice and be conduits of healing to those injustice has harmed. 



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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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