Acts 19:13-16 (HCSB)
13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!”14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.15 The evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize—but who are you?”16 Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.
There are reasons behind the Bible. Not every event in the life of the church was recorded. Some were recorded because they had great historical significance. Some events made the cut because of the lessons they taught. And some events, I am convinced, were recorded for posterity just because they were funny. This is one of them…
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the passage as well. So here are my thoughts:
First, Luke tells us that these men were already in the exorcism business. I don’t know much about Jewish exorcisms, but I imagine you could make a pretty good living at it. Your clients really want what you got. Then Paul comes to Ephesus and these men hear stories of how he could cast out demons with his used Kleenex (see last week’s edition)! So what you have here are some local boys who think they’ve figured out a way to corner a niche market. If they could do what Paul did, business would boom.
The problem with their plan is that they didn’t know what they were dealing with. You see, the name “Jesus” isn’t a magic word like “Abra Cadabra”. He’s the King of the Universe and has power over the demonic. And he’s stated that he’s more than happy to loan us the use of his name. But in order to borrow his authority means we are first submitted to his authority. Obviously, these guys weren’t submitted to Jesus and they got, what we call in Texas, a butt-whippin’. The Scevas boys lost their skivvies.
I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.
The name of Jesus remains as powerful today as it was then. At the name demons flee, sickness leaves, the sinful are rescued. And Jesus wants you to use it…in your life…even for your own benefit. But you need to be submitted to him. That way, you’ll honor the name and not misuse it for any gain other than that name’s glory.