26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes,[b] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus[c] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”, for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed[d] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
When Jesus got to shore on the east of the Sea of Galilee, why was a demon-possessed man there to meet him? Had the demons pulled the flesh that housed them to the shore to oppose Jesus and try and defeat him? There were a legion of demons living in that shell. Literally, that would be about 5,000. However, it may have been a metaphor like a ‘boatload’. Either way, Jesus arrives and a pack of demons is waiting for him, located inside a naked and tormented man’s body. The man’s soul shared that same house of flesh. I doubt demon’s sleep, so I doubt the man had any peace. In a tormented home, he was kept awake all night by horrors and fears and visions. By day he would hear voices speaking corruption, whispering lust, and annihilating him. Yet, maybe he dragged the flesh that housed them all to the shore to meet Jesus. Maybe he could not clothe himself, he could not free himself, but he had heard of Jesus.
Unfortunately, I think that the demons dominated the interior life of this man. I think they had an appointment with Jesus. It looks like Jesus had called the appointment because of the language of the man. Although, as we see when he is asked his name, it is not the man’s soul that speaks, it is really the multitude of fallen angels who torment him. They try to turn the tables on the meeting that Jesus has called. They name him. In ancient cultures, when you name someone you have authority over them. However, after their thrust for power they retreat into a whimper and beg the one with true authority not to torture them with his justice.
Jesus has commanded the spirits to come out of the man, but they do not come out at once. They want to broker a deal. Why does Jesus allow this? In so bargaining they will make greater spectacle of themselves and they will plunge pigs into a watery grave. Jesus asks their name, in so doing he shows them who truly is calling the shots here. After they reply and take their proper position in this argument, Jesus gives them permission to go into the pigs. Who gives permission but one with authority. Jesus owns them. Jesus is the master of all the angels, fallen and otherwise, and he still issues commands which must be obeyed. Satan would seem like their master,but Satan himself is a sniveling underling who has ideas above his station. He can not rescue his minions from the hand of true justice and authority. The mind of a pig can not survive in competition with the mind of a demon. However, for the man created in the image of God, his contest with a legion of demons is at an end. He is at peace. Joy and laughter can now well up within him, free to flow from the redemption from Jesus. He knows who has healed him, it is Jesus. In another way, he is only an initiate. He knows he knows nothing of his wonderful saviour. He sits quietly hoping to learn. He is a natural candidate for discipleship. But that is not his calling. He is to be an apostle with one calling. He will have a simple message: “Jesus once found me in a ruined state. He transformed me from within. He has given me freedom.” Then again, that is the testimony of all of us who have truly met Christ. He has taken us all from darkness into light. He has freed us all from the voices of our flesh. We all have a story to tell.
However, the power of the miracle leaves us with puzzlement at the reaction of the people. They want none of this. They want Jesus to leave. They have experienced great economic lost and all they see is the threat to their income. With no pigs to sell, who will put bread on the table? Yet standing there with them is the very Bread of Life. Standing there with them is the one who will come back to the hills nearby and feed a legion with baskets to spare. But they are earthy, worldly, practical, pragmatic, and lost. Jesus will knock on the doors of their conscience with the constant rapping of the freed man’s testimony. However, they will turn away from life and embrace a path which seems right to them. They will rebuild their empire which spawned an ungodly legion. They will rebuild an economy which filled their bellies with unclean flesh. they will rebuild a kingdom that Jesus has defeated and the Kingdom of God will walk away.
What is this life about? Why do your children still need jobs and money and community, when these things can lead us so far astray? Take our work and our homes and our churches and cast out the impurities. Help us to walk gladly toward the gate of death without working for fleshly immortality. Let us embrace a life of death that we may truly live. Let us be crucified daily so that we may live resurrected daily. Let us walk in your way and build your Kingdom, for your glory. Amen
- Where does Jesus go?
- What is the condition of the man before and after he meets Jesus?
- Why does Luke tell us about yet another exorcism?
- How is your spirit oppressed? How would Jesus set you free?
- How are those around you oppressed? How would your testimony set them free?