A triple false testimony of the devil about Jesus

In this Sunday’s verses of the Gospel, Jesus strictly commands Satan to be silent when he calls Him “the Holy One of God.” He said: “Quiet! Come out of him!” (Mk 1:25), literally: “Put a muzzle on.” He had a reason to say so, says in his commentary for the Sunday, January 26, 2024, for the Heschel Centre at the Catholic University of Lublin Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, a Bible scholar and author, head of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio and Vatican News.

It may seem at first sight that the words of an unclean spirit who has possessed a man serve a good cause. However, the devil’s testimony was incomplete, premature, and destructive, hence Jesus’ unambiguous reaction.


The devil calls Christ “Jesus of Nazareth” and “the Holy One of God” (Mk 1:24). However, he is someone far more significant: He is God.

As God, Jesus has absolute power, which is mentioned by Christ’s listeners, astonished by His teaching, when they say: “What is this? A new powerful teaching” (Mk 1:27). The Greek text is much more straightforward: “A new teaching with authority” (Greek exousia). Jesus’ authority made the devil follow His commands, stay silent, and leave the possessed man.


The scene of the liberation of the demon-possessed man comes from the beginning of Christ’s activity. In the Gospel according to Mark, it is the first miracle performed by Jesus. Such a confession of the evil spirit at this point was inappropriate, and Jesus’ mission could be misunderstood.

The extent of the risk of misunderstanding Jesus’ message is also demonstrated by what happened after Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi. Namely, Peter failed to grasp Jesus’ announcement of his passion and even began to admonish Jesus, who said that he would suffer. Jesus told Peter: “Get behind me, Satan (literally in Greek: enemy). You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mk 8:33). The first words in this citation mean literally: “Trust me,” i.e., follow me rather than impose your vision of the Messiah.

Destructive character

The devil’s incomplete and premature statement about Jesus could have been very destructive. It did not lead to a confession of the truth because the devil is a liar and the father of lies (cf. Jn 8:31-59). It could have undermined the mission of Jesus by forcing an incorrect and incomplete image of Him.

This Sunday, we might ask ourselves: “What is my image of Jesus?”

About the author:

Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik has a doctorate in Oriental Sciences from Oxford University and another doctorate in Biblical Studies and Archaeology from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Jerusalem. A former spokesperson of the Polish Bishops’ Conference (2015-2020) and then director of the International Communications Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. In October 2022, appointed deputy director of the Abraham J. Heschel Centre for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the Catholic University of Lublin, as of July 2023, head of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio and Vatican News.