In my recent devotional reading of the Gospel of Mark, I began to wonder about something I know that I’ve noticed before but not thought deeply about: the fact that the demons knew who Jesus was.
In Mark 1:24, the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue of Capernaum cries out, “…I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”. In verse 34, Jesus is said to have not permitted the demons to speak “…because they knew him.” In Matthew 8:29, the demons call Jesus the “Son of God”.
So, the question is: How did they know who Jesus was? A couple possibilities came to mind.
The Spiritual Perception Hypothesis
Given the demons are from and in the spiritual realm, not the natural realm, it seems plausible that they can perceive what the spiritual nature of things and spiritual happenings. On this hypothesis, the demons knew who Jesus was because they could perceive, in the realm of the spirit, that He had a special nature, distinct from other humans.
The Natural Observation Hypothesis
Given the demons have some ability to interact with the natural realm (possessing people, communicating with and through people, etc.), it seems plausible that they have some ability to observe the happenings of the natural world. On this hypothesis, the demons knew who Jesus was because they had observed His life, specifically that He was sinless, and thus knew he was somebody very distinct from the other humans they observed.
Now, both of these two possibilities limit the demons’ knowledge of the person of Jesus to their observation of him during His earthly life and ministry. The Spiritual Perception Hypothesis offers that the demons observed Jesus during His life and ministry and could perceive, in the spiritual realm, that Jesus had a unique nature. The Natural Observation Hypothesis offers that the demons observed Jesus during His life and ministry and deduced, because of His persistent sinlessness, that He had a unique nature.
The Heavenly Relationship Hypothesis
Given the fact that Jesus saw the demons fall like lighting from Heaven (Luke 10:18), he must have existed alongside the demons prior to their fall, and thus it seems plausible that they had some relationship and knowledge of Him at that time. If fact, we know from other passages of Scripture that Jesus is the Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17) and that all the angels were present at the Creation (Job 38:7). From these considerations, it seems plausible that the demons knew who Jesus was because they recognized Him in some way. I can almost imagine them thinking, “hey…we know you!”
The Heavenly Relationship Hypothesis offers that the demons had some perception/observation of the personality of Jesus prior to His earthly life and ministry.
There may be other possibilities, but currently, I lean toward the Heavenly Relationship Hypothesis.
What do you think?