In each of the gospels, instances of people being de-possessed are recounted several times, and, in general, it is told that Jesus and His disciples healed multitudes of the sick and demon-possessed. We learn a lot from observing the nature of these encounters. They give us a window into how Jesus subjugated evil spirits, not only on earth, but also in the spiritual world. In each encounter, the evil spirits recognize the divine power in Jesus and beg for mercy. There are profound principles at work here that have to do with the reason that the Lord suffered to be born on earth. In order to battle with an enemy, a person must be with them in close quarters, hand-to-hand or sword-to-sword so to speak. So it was with the Lord. God, in His essence, could not come into the presence of people, spirits, or angels because the divine fire of His love and truth would instantly destroy anyone, just as it would destroy a man to come too close to the sun. In order to do battle with evil on earth and in the spiritual world, Jesus had to become human so that He could engage and defeat them without destroying their life and freedom. This process is explained in detail in the blog on the glorification. Here, lets get a picture of the enormity of the battles the Lord accomplished.
There are many scriptures in the prophets and the gospels that refer to the Lord’s battles against the hells. The nature of the the Lord’s conflict with evil was one: face to face, and two: from the power of His divine soul. Swedenborg says that these battles were not verbal arguments, but a confrontation of wills, truth, and force. The hells enormity is beyond our ability to comprehend, so the battle to put them back in their place had to be on a scale far beyond our knowing. Evil beings (people) in the spiritual world have artifices and treacherous abilities many times greater than the most evil people on earth. Jesus was vulnerable to them because He had hereditary evil in His body and could therefore be tempted. He was just a single man in a body; yet, with the divine power in Him, He fought the armies of hell by Himself. There is no greater power than the power of divine truth. Divine truth occupies the very heart of power from pure goodness, and evil spirits facing off with it are repelled and leap headlong to bury themselves behind rocks and caves. On earth, we see a hint of this in the Gospels in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus tells His disciples three times to stay awake and support Him, for He feels tired ‘even to death’. He is so assaulted by evil forces that He sweats blood from the pores of His body. He suffers so much that He asks God to ‘take his cup away,’ but He nevertheless adds that ‘God’s will be done.’ Later in the Garden, we see a hint of the power that He commands, (but disciplines Himself not to use), when He is betrayed by Judas and captured in the garden of Gethsemane by Roman soldiers: “Now when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). It is as if He merely flexed a portion of the divine power within and the light from His body knocked them to the ground.
Here are some of the scriptures that speak of his battles and victories and describe him as a warrior.
“Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth”. (Isaiah 63:2-6)
“For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him”. (Isaiah 59:17-19)
These verses emphasize the glory of His strength; His glory arises from a pure and masterful love of truth that contains an inner strength of such stunning power no artifice can resist it. In the presence of His power the evil masters burn and sufficate, and must hide themselves in dark corners. Over and over again, He confronts and defeats, face-to-face horrid forces of evil that had festered and grown out of control. In Isaiah 64:15, He is called “A hero and man of wars;” in Psalm 14:8-10, He is called “the King of glory, Jehova the Mighty, the hero of wars.” John 12:31 reads: “Now is the Judgment of the World: the prince of this world shall be cast out.” All of these refer to the great work He did of fighting and subjugating the multitude of evil forces, and how He put them back where they belong in hell.
As Jesus battled the evil that had possessed humanity and overrun the spiritual world, He also battled the hereditary evils in His own body as He grew. Swedenborg describes the little known severity of this:
“That the Lord’s life, from His earliest childhood even to the last hour of His life in the world, was continual temptation and continual victory, is evident from many things in the Word of the Old Testament; and that it did not cease with the temptation in the wilderness is evident from what is said in Luke: “And when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from Him for a season” (Luke 4:13); as also from the fact that He was tempted even to the death on the cross, and thus to the last hour of His life in the world. Hence it is evident that the whole of the Lord’s life in the world, from His earliest childhood, was continual temptation and continual victory. The things that were disclosed appear in the sense of the letter so slight as to be scarcely anything; for to speak and to answer in this manner is no temptation, when yet His temptation was more grievous than can ever be comprehended and believed by any human mind”. (Arcana Celestia, n. 1960)
By being born on earth, Jesus had access to evil forces and evil forces had access to him. Jesus had access to them because He was born from a human mother, and anyone born on this earth has hereditary evil passed on to them. We receive hereditary evil from the body of the mother and from the soul of the father. Since Jesus’ soul was from God, and therefore divine, He did not receive evil from the Father, but only from the mother (as we discussed earlier). Because he possessed hereditary evil in his body, Jesus could be tempted and attacked by evil spirits. Swedenborg informs us that Jesus was doing the work of putting evil spirits back into their place in the spiritual world on a large scale. He describes that when Jesus confronted evil spirits, perhaps hundreds at a time that had made a siege on a society of heaven, they would run and seek refuge in caves in the deepest parts of hell. The light from Jesus was like scalding water to them. The atmosphere of love from Him caused them to be unable to breath, as if they were in a vacuum, and they would be forced to return to where they belonged.