The Lord Jesus calmed the mighty storm. Imagine it. All the winds and waves raging, creating a terrifying howl, filling your boat with water…and then up He rises… commands…and everything slows to calm.
Jesus and His bewildered disciples sailed their boats to the other side of the Sea to the region of the Garasenes. Many Gentiles lived there. When they got out of the boats, a man came towards them. He had been roaming around the lonely tombs that were cut into the rocky hills around the water.
The man was from the local city, but had been driven out because he was dangerous. He was possessed by powerful demons, and they had driven him insane. He had been bound by chains on his hands and feet and put under guard, but the demons gave him supernatural strength to break free. He simply tore the shackles apart. Nobody was strong enough to control him or keep him from harming others. The people of the nearby cities ran him out of town. He had lived among the tombs for many years, naked and isolated, with no home of his own.
Imagine the terror this one man brought to the people of their area! He was so violent that nobody could pass through his direction on the road. Yet the worst victim was the man himself. Day and night he cut himself and slashed his own skin with rocks. What terrible bondage.
The evil one and all his demonic followers long to destroy humankind. This desperate soul shows exactly what they would like to do to the rest of us if they could. We are the beloved of his great enemy, the God of the universe, and Satan delights in using us as pawns against Him. The best way he can do that is to get us to hurt ourselves and each other.
When the man first saw Jesus, he was far away. The demonic forces drove him to run frantically towards Christ. Jesus commanded, “‘Come out of this man, you evil spirit!’” The man fell at Jesus’ feet and cried out with a loud wail, “‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?’”
The demons were talking through this man, using his throat and his mouth, and they were being extremely rude. They were basically telling Jesus to mind His own business.
Isn’t it interesting that they knew exactly who Jesus was? Deep in past eternity, the demonic beings had been angels, serving God in Heaven. Jesus was there with them, the Son of the Father who sits on the Everlasting Throne. They had seen Jesus in all His divine majesty. In spite of their privileged position in the eternal realms, they chose to rebel against God…and His Son. They waged a war against the angelic host that remained loyal to God and lost. The Lord cast them out of Heaven. Now they roam the earth seeking who they can destroy. When the evil spirits were confronted with the presence of Christ, it didn’t matter that He came in the from of a Man; He was still God. They understood His power and holiness, and they couldn’t bear it.
The evil spirits also knew that their time to torture and harass humanity was not going to last forever. Humans may have sided with Satan in the Garden and submitted the human race to his rule, but God wasn’t going to allow that bondage to last forever, and they knew it. When the evil spirits complained that Jesus might torture them before the appointed time, they were talking about the day when God will judge the wicked spirits just like He will judge unrepentant humans. They will all be punished at the end of this Age. These demonic beings were afraid that the Son of God might send them to their punishment ahead of time!
Did you notice that they didn’t argue about whether Jesus could do it? These deceitful, low down, dirty spirits knew that they couldn’t trick Him or have any real power against Him.
Jesus asked him, “‘What is your name?’”
“‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many’”
Wow. A legion was a troop of Roman soldiers that could be made of up to 6,000 men. There were many, many demonic spirits tormenting the poor man.
They kept begging Jesus not to send them into the Abyss. Imagine if you were a disciple watching that discussion! Out in the distance, there was a large herd of pigs… at least 2,000…feeding along the mountainside. The demons began to beg Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’” Anything was better than the Abyss!
So Jesus gave them permission, saying, “‘Begone!’”
The demons came out of the man and went into the pigs. Their evil presence sent all those pigs into a mad stampede down the steep side of the hill. In their madness they rushed into the sea and drowned in its waters. Imagine the thundering of their hooves, the splashing chaos, and the squeals of the helpless creatures. Imagine the shock of the herdsmen as their animals fled to their own deaths. This was the world the demons wanted to create. They brought insanity, life among the tombs of death, self-hatred and self wounding, and total destruction of property. Whoever owned those pigs lost a great amount of their wealth that day.
The herdsmen ran off to the city and began telling everyone what had happened. People began to come out to see. Pretty soon, the whole city was there. When they arrived, they saw the man who had been tormented by a legion of demons. Only now, he was sitting quietly at the feet of the Lord Jesus. He was fully clothed and in his right mind.
What a beautiful Savior. What a beautiful moment of peace, relief, restoration.
When the crowds saw this, they were terrified. They had lived for years with this man’s horrible behavior. They had agonized over how to stop him and protect themselves from his violence and terror. They had guarded their children from him and changed their paths to avoid him. They were fully aware of how impossible it was for this man to be okay. They were deeply aware of the miracle, and their immediate response was to be terrified.
Not delighted at the man’s transformation. Not filled with hope that a Healer had come.
The men who had seen it all happened began to tell the crowd how Jesus had cast the demons out. They explained how the pigs rushed into the water. The people of Gerasenes and the whole region around began to beg Jesus to leave. They did not want this Man in their region.
So Jesus went down and climbed into the boat. He could have lashed out at their rejection. He could have tried to explain Himself or persuade them. He could have pushed back with a blow of power. But in breathtaking humility, He simply turned and walked away.
The man who was set free came to Jesus and pleaded with Him. He wanted to go with the Lord! But Jesus sent him back. He said, “‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.’”
Imagine how painful this man’s insanity had been for his family for all those years. Imagine how amazed and happy they were to see him calm, in his right mind, and able to share life with them. The Lord Jesus had restored life in a beautiful way. It was not just for this one man, but for all those who loved him as well. This man had a whole life of dignity to reclaim, and Jesus sent him to it.
The man was so deeply grateful to Jesus that he began to go around the whole region of the Decapolis proclaiming the Good News of what Jesus had done for him. The Decapolis was a region of ten cities that was almost completely on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River from the nation of Israel. It was Gentile territory. The people that lived there were despised by the Jewish people. But now, this man…this Gentile…who had been in such wretched bondage to evil was going out to those regions and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ! God had chosen him for the most sacred task of all: He became a herald for the King of kings and Lord of lords!