A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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Jesus, as He is represented in the Gospels, never refused His healing offices; but equally He never asserted Himself, without being first requested on behalf of the patient or by the patient himself. The story of the Gerasene maniac is an exception to this rule. Here the Evangelists describe Him as making approaches to the patient and attacking the demons. If this were so, it may well be asked why the maniac ever came nearer to Jesus ? The story is untrue to the character of Jesus as represented elsewhere and the suggestions advanced in our discussion of it point to a different interpretation. In this my intention is not apologetic, but an attempt to penetrate to the truth about Jesus, and I am not convinced that there is sufficient evidence that Jesus did believe in devil-possession. If He did, what are we to say of His attitude to Peter ? When Jesus boldly foretold His rejection and death, Peter began to rebuke Him ; but He turned on Peter, saying, ' Get thee behind me, Satan' (Mark viii, 33). Undoubtedly, this is the most authentic saying preserved in the Gospels. Peter could never have forgotten that, and he would scarcely have passed it on to Mark if it had not been said ; but if there is anything clear about the story at all it is that the word ' Satan J was applied to Peter. To the Gerasene patient Jesus is reported to have merely put the question, ' Who are you ? '
In the previous chapter we saw how the belief in the influence of Satan was developed in the post-Exilic period. Mental diseases were then attributed to devil-possession, but and this is a point of importance it was never thought that the evil spirits entered into possession of a man at will ; they were only able to do so by the permission of Jahweh, who used this as a method of punishing sin. Obviously, a conception of