Our scripture this morning is Luke 8:26-39.
So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.
This passage tells us of Christ’s power over demons, but there is more to learn from the story. First, the region of the Gerasenes is not a Jewish area. Jesus went to the Gentiles specifically to minister to them, that God’s love and plan of salvation would be known to them.
The demons recognize Jesus immediately, just as Satan did in the temptation passage (Luke 4). They don’t threaten Jesus because they hold no power over Him. In fact, they beg Him for mercy. Jesus sends them into a herd of pigs and they are not seen again. The man who was possessed is now calm and rational, which apparently frightens the people.
Why are the people frightened? Perhaps they realize that there are “demons” in their lives that they cannot get rid of themselves, just as we cannot. Only the power of Jesus can save us and we must give up these things that separate us from God. Also, if Satan and the demons recognize Jesus, why don’t we? The powers of evil have no choice but to obey Jesus. God gave us a choice and we must choose to submit our lives to Him. Finally, the restored man asks to follow Jesus, but He sends the man back home to “tell them everything God has done for you” (v. 39). This is the same call Jesus places on our lives, to go in faith, sharing the joy we have found in a renewed relationship with God.
Loving Lord, we are grateful for the coming of Jesus to teach us about You and ourselves. Help us to share the Good News that through Your love and mercy, we can all be saved to eternal life. Amen.