Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
19 June 2016
St. Augustine once said, “The devil is like a mad dog that is chained up. He is powerless to harm when we are outside his reach, but once we enter his circle, we expose ourselves again to injury or harm.”
Certainly in this day and age, we can see Augustine’s words ring true, especially after the world has witnessed another mass shooting, this time in Orlando.
My scripture text for this morning is about a man who somehow got inside the devil’s circle and had become possessed. But this story has a happy ending when he was delivered and his life restored.
Our text is Luke 8:26-39.
26Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
When Jesus arrived in the region of the Gadarenes, it was no accident. He knew there was once man who needed deliverance and our Lord traveled across the Sea of Galilee to find and deliver this man. When they reached the shore, they were greeted by a scream that echoed throughout the hills. Out of nowhere, a filthy looking naked man, with wild blazing eyes burst on the scene. It appeared that the presence of Jesus upset him greatly.
I find it telling, that it was the supernatural forces of evil within the man who immediately recognized Christ’s divinity, but no one else did. Today evil, it is still with us, but it has changed its appearance.
- What was once called demons is now called spirit guides.
- What was once called séances is now called trance channeling.
- What was once called reincarnation is now called regression therapy.
- What was once called the occult is now called New Age.
The Bible speaks of evil spirits as a matter of fact without any excuse or apology. A lot of people have no problem with the supernatural forces of good, such as:
- Holy Spirit
However when it comes to the supernatural forces of evil, it becomes a different story. We doubt the forces of evil with names such as these attached:
- The devil,
- Demons or demon possession
There is widespread skepticism and even ridicule. That’s the postmodern world that we live in.
When I was stationed at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in the late 1990’s, we lived about 5 miles from a small cemetery. There was one grave that had become a tourist attraction, the grave of the famous Indian, Geronimo; it was a 4’ pyramid of round stones. People far and wide would come and leave coins, cigarettes, bottles of beer and other type of trinkets. I later found out that Geronimo’s tomb was nationally known in psychic circles as a place to receive some type of “psychic energy.
The spirit world of today often takes on different forms and disguises. It appears innocent and harmless. When a person begins to dabble in the “spirit world” it may seem interesting and fun, but depending on how deep you go, it could have an adverse effect.
In regards to the man of the tombs, we don’t know what he did or did not do, whether he was abused, had a bad childhood or had become involved in hallucinogenic drugs or participated in a form of Satanism. We do know he was forced out of the village.
Now I suppose if a psychologist or a psychiatrist had been present back then, this man could have been diagnosed with a variety of psychological disorders, but whatever the condition, this man was a total mess. No doubt he would have been hospitalized or given medication to control his behavior.
Root causes and diagnosis’ aside, Jesus arrived at the right time. Throughout the Gospels, when Jesus comes into a person’s life they are often challenged, upset or transformed, which was what happened in this case.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says: If any person is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things become new.
Many of us have a testimony of how a personal relationship with Jesus helped or delivered us through difficulties, trials or temptation. There are others through the assistance of God, who have found their help through AA, the intervention of family and friends, medical doctors and counselors. But the important thing is that God came into our lives and we were better for it.
There is one final thing that impressed me about this story.
Verse 39 Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
If they had Father’s Day back then, what a great gift Jesus gave to the man’s father. He probably had not seen him in years, but…
- The man of the tombs was finally free.
- Before he was violent, now he is peaceful.
- Before he roamed naked in the cemetery, now he was fully clothed.
- Before the evil forces possessed him, now he was in his right mind.
- Before he was a terror, now he was full of gratitude.
- Before he was hopelessly lost, now he was a child of God.
That’s the message in a nut shell. Do you need more of Christ in your life? Jesus has the ability to change, release, or deliver a life for the better. I have seen a bumper sticker that says, “Jesus is the answer; what is the question?”