The Swine Driven into the Sea - James_Tissot

The Miracle of the Healing of a Demon-Possessed Man

Most of our minds are password-unprotected. The content that we allow ourselves to dwell on is staggering: the articles and books we read, the music we listen to, the images we look at, the ideas we are convinced by, and even the people with whom we identify. Our hearts are much like a home. Charlatans come knocking at the door. If we succumb, they take what they want and sometimes leave behind a secret entryway into our heart. Then they can come and go at their pleasure. And amazingly, much of the time, we just sit back and let it happen.

Healing of a Demon-Possessed Man
Material: Mentally ill man
Formal: Normal man
Efficient: "For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man." (obedience, authority)
Final: Salvation
Aristotle's Four Causes

In the gospels Jesus frequently healed demon-possessed men, women and children, but in this day and age, we don't really like to think that way, do we? Saying that someone is possessed makes us shift in our seat. We say, "No, she just has mental illness," "No, he's just an angry man," "No, she's just a drug-addict," or "No, he just can't control himself." But the fact remains, most of these people were not always like this. Something happened to them along the way. Let's look at the miracle of the demon-possessed man from the gospel of Luke. It gives us some insight into what exactly demons are and how to deal with them.

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:26-39

In our day, this man would be labeled a lunatic, classified as a schizophrenic or said to be exhibiting some sort of psychotic behavior. Aren't we all troubled at times by reoccurring thoughts in varying degrees? What ideas possess your waking and sleeping hours? Demons cloak themselves in ideologies, fear, lusts and power. They even roam about from one person to another. The most simple example of this is when we see people passing anger to each other like a hot potato.

Now many demons will come knocking at the door of our heart, and be assured they are nothing to worry about. That's for sure. We have the power and right to say, "No, you can't come in." They knock all the time. The approach us on the Internet. We'll find them in a troubled friend. We even glimpse in our own heart. They are certainly nothing to fear. In fact, the last thing you want to do is fear them. If you ask them their name like Jesus did, they might respond, "My name is Jealousy," or, "My name is Living in the Past," or "My name is Never Satisfied." There are so many of them. And they not the person in which they dwell. It's essential to not make that mistake. In the ship lives rats, but the ship is not a rat. Of course, there are much worse demons out there, but we need not worry about any of them. Because you don't have to let them in. You can just witness their pathetic state and know they are not for you. They will argue to us, lie to us and try to trick us, but we do not need to allow them in. And don't argue with them. It's a battle worth ignoring. Because by just engaging in battle, they will win.

Much of the Beatitudes dealt with how to deal with demons and mostly it's counterintuitive to our nature: love the enemy, give the other cheek, give also your cloak, pray for them. Just don't let them make a home in your heart. Your home is made for the Spirit of God.

In the particular story we're reading which takes place in the countryside, Legion begs Jesus to not send them to the Abyss. Jesus responds with mercy and sends the host of demons called Legion into the pigs, who then rushed headlong into the lake. Why did Jesus not send them to the Abyss? Why be merciful to demons? Why doesn't Jesus just send all of the demons to the Abyss right now? Wouldn't that end all the wars, heal all families, clear the minds all the crazies? It may do all that, however, if he were to send all of the demons away, so many are presently caught up within his people. Wouldn't they go to the Abyss as well, just like the pigs went into the lake? God's beloved people would be driven there with the demons. No, Jesus must heal his sheep. God is patient. He will wait until every last one of his children are free. God is not hasty.

After the air cleared, the man requested that he continue on with Jesus, but instead Jesus sent him home. Have you been sent home by Jesus? Did you go there? The pain he caused others in his town must have been overwhelming. Can you imagine the embarrassment? The man had to return so the Spirit of God could heal those he hurt. However, the townspeople wanted to keep the status quo. They didn't want Jesus to do any more miracles in their town. They were imagining the loss of livelihood. Clearly, they are the ones who needed healing as well. Could it have been that the townspeople were the ones who had thrust all the pain and suffering into that crazy man? Did they supply the demons? It makes me wonder. They wanted to get rid of Jesus as soon as possible.

How about you, can you "return home and tell how much God has done for you"? That's so many of our calling, but for many, it's the most difficult thing to do. For many of us, home is where all the hurt and pain is. But like the man in this story, Jesus sends us there to heal what has been broken.

We all have rats scurrying about in our ship, we've all let them in at one time or another. How do we get rid of the ones we've allowed access to our heart? We can't go home and do much good until we are cleaned up, can we? There is another who comes knocking at our door and it's essential that we not turn him away. The feeling we get from this interloper will make us uncomfortable. But he comes not to destroy, but to cleanse us from the inside out. This is the person who rules over wind, waves, sicknesses and demons. You'll recognize him by the fruit, the free gifts which he places at your doorstep: "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). When he comes in, he turns on a bright light in our heart, which causes the demons to scatter and to flee for cover. When Jesus fills us, there's no room for any darkness at all. We must give him access to every corner and to the hidden closet.

The last thing to note about this incident is that Jesus did not stay where he was unwanted. The people were afraid that he might actually change them for good, so they asked him to leave and "he got into the boat and left."

Tags: commentary, miracles