…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 evilspirit 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…. (Luke 8:26–39)
As you walk with the Master, you will move from one experience to the next. Jesus will be teaching you through each one, and always His next teaching will be building on what He just taught you. So don’t lose sight as you read this passage that the disciples have just gone through a harrowing ride. They have just seen Jesus through His spoken word still the winds and calm the waves. Matthew writes that the disciples were amazed. Mark says they were absolutely terrified. Luke, ever the one to include all the details, says they were amazed AND terrified. They had seen Jesus heal the sick. They had even witnessed Jesus through His spoken word raise a young servant from the dead — though they had not actually seen the dead boy arise since he was miles away. But now they had seen creation itself obey! Their emotions had made the journey from fearing for their lives to terrified amazement in just one instant. If i had gone through that experience, i know that i would still have been processing it. It’s not an experience that you go through and then just turn it off and go forward to the next thing. Remember — they knew Jesus was the Messiah — but they had never envisioned a Messiah like this! And they were still asking, “Who is this Man?” (Luke 8:25).
As soon as they arrive on the other side, just as Jesus is getting out of the boat, the men are there at the shore to meet them. One other thing to remember — the night before, as they got into the boat, Jesus had told them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake” (Luke 8:22). The disciples had no idea why they were going to the other side of the lake. They had no idea what Jesus’ purpose was or who they would encounter. But Jesus did! Nothing with Jesus is random! He doesn’t waste an experience or an encounter. Nothing is inconsequential. So, on your journey, don’t try to come up with your own next step — follow the example of the disciples — keep following Him wherever He goes — and you will be right where He wants you to be — in the midst of His activity — and His purpose — for His glory!
Matthew reports that there were two men who were possessed by demons (Matthew 8:28). Apparently one was the spokesman, because Mark and Luke only reference the one. They were homeless, naked and living in tombs. They were strong and violent, able to break their chains and shackles, and escape those who were guarding them. With a shriek, the one screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” Even before Jesus had said or done anything, they had come to the shore to meet Him. They were there as He arrived. The demons within the men knew more than the disciples did. They knew who Jesus was. They knew He was the Son of the Most High God. They knew His power. They knew His mission. They knew that one day He alone would judge them and cast them into eternal damnation. Their plea was not about whatHe would do — that was a foregone conclusion. Their plea was about whenHe was going to do it. “Have You come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29).
These men were controlled by a legion of demons. (For reference, a Roman legion was as many as 6,000 men!) And that multitude of demons not only knew who Jesus was — they believed! They believed Who He was, in the authority that was His, in the judgment that was to come and the torment they faced. They even believed in prayer! They were begging Jesus not to send them into the abyss. Jesus had already commanded them to come out of the men. Their plea was that Jesus would allow them to enter into a herd of 2,000 pigs, because they knew that Jesus would not permit them to enter into anyone else that was there on the shore.
Please understand this. The demons knew Who Jesus was. They knew the prophecies that they would one day be judged by Him. They also knew that the day of judgment had not yet come. But keep in mind that the demons can no more see into the future than you or i can. Their knowledge and beliefs was founded in what God had said through His prophets. Beyond that, they do not have foreknowledge.
So when Jesus granted their plea and gave them permission to enter into that herd of pigs, they had no idea what was coming next! But Jesus did! And that entire herd of pigs bolted for the lake and drowned. Remember, Jesus doesn’t “do” random! He has a purpose and a plan in everything that He does!
Before you get too sympathetic about those 2,000 pigs, i want you to be mindful of how much Jesus valued those two possessed men. He valued them over the lives of those pigs. Be mindful of how much He values you and me. He values us so much that He was willing to lay down His own life for us. The Father gave His Son so that we might have everlasting life. What’s that compared to 2,000 pigs?
And the men who had been set free from the bondage of the demons — at least one of them (Luke 8:38) — begged Jesus to allow him to go with Him. But Jesus told him to go back to his family “and tell them everything God has done for you.” And Mark tells us that the man went all through the ten towns of that region proclaiming“the great things Jesus had done for him” (Mark 5:20).
It is sad to note that the herdsmen and the people of that nearby town were more concerned about the pigs that had died than the men who had been delivered. Jesus was in their midst, but sadly the demons believed in Him much more than the townspeople. As a result, Jesus left them and crossed back to the other side.
Imagine what the disciples were thinking through all of this and as they continued on their journey with Jesus. Not only does the wind obey, but the demons believe. Not only does He still the storm, He sets captives free. And there is nothing random about anything that He does!