Exorcism is commonly known as driving demons out of a demon-possessed person. Many people do not believe either in demons or exorcisms. They are skeptical and wary of them. Yet, Jesus was not shy or timid about evicting evil spirits. He personally performed a number of exorcisms, as related in the New Testament. One of the most well-known reports of Christ performing an exorcism is this one:
“When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake [Sea of Galilee], in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area. They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time? There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. Matthew 8:28-32, NLT
This same story is also told in Mark 5:1-20 and in Luke 8:26-39. Other occasions when Jesus removed demons are found in Mark 1:21-27 and Luke 4:31-37. Jesus performed at least seven exorcisms that we know about. Jesus also gave the power of exorcism to 72 of His disciples. He bestowed this power and other powers on them.
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” Jesus answered, "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.“ Luke 10:1, 17, 19 NLT
My good friend Bob Christopher pastored several churches in North Carolina from 1981 to 2001. In 1988 Bob began taking numerous short-term mission trips to many areas of the world. After he retired, he and his wife moved to Texas to be closer to their children and grandchildren. My wife and I became friends with them when they joined our church and fellowship class.
Even today, though up in years, he is by no means completely retired. He has taken over 50 mission trips to all parts of the world. The trips were arranged by the International Commission, an evangelistic and discipleship ministry based in Lewisville, Texas. The Commission has a working relationship with the Foreign Mission Board of the Baptist Church.
Bob told me about three occasions during these mission trips when he observed exorcisms in demon-possessed people. The exorcisms took place thousands of miles apart on separate continents and over the space of fifteen years.
The first occasion took place in 1989 in Santiago, Chile. He was preaching at the Argamedo Baptist Church. A lady in the congregation was continually interrupting him and disrupting his preaching. According to Bob, she was a constant "chatterbox". He continued to preach, and eventually the deacons of the church took her to another room and exorcised five demons from her.
Each time a demon came out of her, she screamed. Later that evening, the lady was in her right mind and sane (similar to the story told in Mark 5:15). Bob described her as "sweet. She told of being freed from the demons, about her love for Jesus, and asked for the congregation's forgiveness.
Another occasion took place in Xai Xai (pronounced Shy Shy), Mozambique in 1990 at the Xai Xai Church. A young lady about thirty-five years old said that her demon was about to show itself.
Then she went into what Bob describes as a trance. Bob watched her as she tucked her head to her chest, looking first down, then to the side and up at the ceiling and then again to the other side. She repeated the process for nearly ten minutes. Bob didn’t see a demonic spirit, but he viewed the actions of the lady and heard the demon speak.
Bob witnessed a third exorcism in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2001 at the Missi Baptist Church. While Bob was preaching, a young woman about eighteen years old who practiced witchcraft, went into a trance and began to slither on her side like a snake across the floor. Bob said he did not know how she propelled herself, but her body moved just like a snake. Some deacons prayed for a few hours, and then other deacons would take over. Finally, the evil spirit was exorcised. Relief came to the lady, but only after the two days of prayer.
This last exorcism is similar to the event related in the book of Mark, when Jesus performed an exorcism that the disciples had not been able to accomplish. The disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, "Why could we not drive it out?" And Jesus said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer." March 9:28-29
Many in the medical profession try to explain such conditions as being caused by a physical or mental illness. However, cures for physical or mental illnesses take long periods of time. The exorcisms described above are similar to those that Jesus performed because they caused an immediate chance in the troubled person.
Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—began shouting at Jesus, “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched;then it came out of him without hurting him further. Luke 4:33-36 NLT