For those of us who are older, and those who are younger with a touch of nostalgia and retro-yearning, you probably remember this question after the sudden disappearance of the Lone Ranger and his sidekick, Tonto. "Who was that masked man?"

Two similar questions are asked about Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry:

The first question is about his teaching: "What is this?" (Mark 1:27).The second question is about his mighty power: "Who is this?" (Mark 4:35-41).

These are very vital questions that must be answered by each of us. (We will look at the second question in more depth next week.) But to understand the importance of these two questions, we must first ask an even more important question:

"Why is this?"

The Gospel of Mark makes clear the "WHY" of Jesus' coming in a strange but powerful story about a man trapped in the hopelessness of hell's grip (Mark 5:1-20). When we look at this man, we see what Satan wants to do in each of us — this is a true glimpse of hell on earth!

  1. a. Possessed: Controlled by a demonic spirit (Mark 5:2).
  2. b. Isolated: He lived in the place of death, in fact, he was living death! (Mark 5:3)
  3. Uncontrollable: Unable to be bound, not only to himself, but anyone else! (Mark 5:3-4).
  4. Self-destructive: Sleepless, helplessly crying out, and inflicting pain on himself! (Mark 5:5).
  5. Insightfully-enslaved: Recognized Jesus as Son of God and that Jesus had God's power to destroy hell's grip in his life (Mark 5:6-8).
  6. Battleground: Not an easy fix — all but two other of Jesus' miracles are instantaneous, but this one required persistence (Mark 5:8).
  7. Depersonalized: Having lost his personal identity to the evil powers, he has no name and is only identified by the legion of demons inhabiting and controlling him (Mark 5:9).

You see, Satan wants to dehumanize and enslave us. He wants to take the person created in the image of God and then pollute us and isolate us. He wants to make us uncontrollable and self-destructive. He wants us to be insightful into spiritual realities and unable to do anything redemptive with that knowledge. He wants to make our lives a spiritual war zone and if possible, to possess us completely (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Without Jesus, our spiritual destiny would be the same as Legion. In fact, that is exactly what we were before Jesus:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3 niv).

Now we all know something deep down inside where our humanity reaches out to God! We know...

  • That something is broken about our world...
  • That while people are basically good and something of God is in them, created in the image of God, we also sense that we are all flawed in some perverse way...
  • That because of our rebellion, our world is broken — that our weather and our ground and our oceans and our wind can violently threaten us and that our bodies, which are so wonderfully and intricately complex, are vulnerable and decaying and that death can step in and destroy us and those precious to us...
  • That Satan really is the "Ruler of this world" (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11) who must be defeated for us!

And all of this is so very different than what the incredible universe around us still hints that God made us and all that is around us to be very good, but it is not very good, it's mostly good, and yet irreversibly broken and often capricious and dangerous.

So the "Why is this?" of Jesus is simple. He came to defeat Satan's attack on us! And He reverses all the things Satan does:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV).

So when we meet Jesus in the middle of these important questions...

"What is this?" We can answer, "These are the very words of God given to save us from disaster!"

"Who is this?" We can answer, "This is my Deliverer, the one God said would be coming, and I believe he has come for me!"

This Jesus is my Deliverer!
And when we go back to Mark that is who we see: Jesus, our Deliverer! Come to give himself to ransom us from darkness (Mark 10:45)! He neutralizes the power of evil behind our deepest primal fears — the things broken in our world and controlled by the evil one who would destroy us.

Jesus has power over the deep — the elemental forces of our universe that can breakout against us (Mark 4:35-41).

Jesus has power over the demonic — the evil powers that would invade and possess us (Mark 5:1-20).

Jesus has power over disease that isolate, afflict, and bankrupt us (Mark 5:25-34).

Jesus has power over the impending darkness of death that separates us from life and those we love (Mark 5:21-43).

This Jesus is my Deliverer! And my Deliverer has not only conquered, but he is coming for me! And he will set all things right!

And this Jesus can be your Deliverer, too!