A Man with Demons in Him
(Matthew 8.28-34; Mark 5.1-20)
26Jesus and his disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. 27As Jesus was getting out of the boat, he was met by a man from this town. The man had demons in him. He had gone naked for a long time and no longer lived in a house, but in the graveyard.
28The man saw Jesus and screamed. He knelt down in front of him and shouted, “Jesus, Son of God Most High, what do you want with me? I beg you not to torture me!” 29He said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to go out of him.
The man had often been attacked by the demon. And even though he had been bound with chains and leg irons and kept under guard, he smashed whatever bound him. Then the demon would force him out into lonely places.
30Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?”
He answered, “My name is Lots.” He said this because there were “lots” of demons in him. 31They begged Jesus not to send them to the deep pit, where they would be punished.
32A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and Jesus let them go. 33Then the demons left the man and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
34When the men taking care of the pigs saw this, they ran to spread the news in the town and on the farms. 35The people went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they also found the man. The demons had gone out of him, and he was sitting there at the feet of Jesus. He had clothes on and was in his right mind. But the people were terrified.
36Then all who had seen the man healed told about it. 37Everyone from around Gerasa begged Jesus to leave, because they were so frightened.
When Jesus got into the boat to start back, 38the man who had been healed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him off and said, 39“Go back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you.” The man then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for him.
Some people playfully use the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Usually they’re kidding. But they are flirting with a subject that is far more real than they know.
Mention the word “devil” and a Halloween street scene comes to mind with red-suited, barb-tailed, pitch fork wielding devils of all sizes mixed in with the princesses, witches and super heroes. But evil is a dark reality in the world today. And it has been since the seduction of Eve.
In this passage we meet a man possessed by evil spirits and see their destructive power in his life. We also see Jesus banish these demons and restore the man to peace and health.
As this passage unfolds, Jesus and his disciples have just arrived by boat on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee. During the crossing Jesus had demonstrated his power over nature by calming the wind and sea during a fierce storm. Now he displays his authority over the spirit realm. And it was quite a display:
- a demon possessed man long known in the community for his erratic behaviour and superhuman strength, now sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind
- demons begging for mercy from Jesus
- a herd of pigs rushing down a steep hillside into the lake, where they all drowned
There was no doubt that Jesus had done something beyond human explanation. There were two responses to this supernatural event – the people of the region were overcome with fear (v 37), and the man who had been set free told people all over town how much Jesus had done for him (v. 39).
Whether we fear Jesus or love him depends on our relationship to him. Have you taken time to get to know him?
Almighty God, at whose word even demons tremble, set me free from anything that binds me. Fill me with such joy that I can’t help telling others what you have done for me. Through the all powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.