Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that, even though Satan may be the ruler of the world (John 12:31), God is Sovereign over Satan, Mark 1:27. Praise God that Satan must ask God 's permission before engaging with God's people to cause them harm. Job 1, Luke 22:32.
Confess the sin of either being ignorant of this truth or not truly understanding this.
Please read Luke 8:26-39 - The phenomenal power of Jesus is displayed.
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
V26. Where it takes place.
Luke tells us that Jesus and the disciples sailed to the country of the Gerasenes; Matthew calls it the Gaderenes; there is also the variant of the Gergesenes. So, which is it? I do not know. In fact, nobody knows. It is one of those issues that we just have to accept and move on.
V27. Who will be affected.
There is another difference between Matthew and Luke, and that is the number of people involved. Matthew writes of two men; Luke focuses on one, but that does not mean that he only thinks there was one man. He probably hones in on the man who must have been taking the lead in the situation. Again, this does not point to an inconsistency in the Bible, but of authenticity. Different men focus on what they see as important in their relaying of what they remember.
As soon as Jesus steps out of the boat, the man is confronting him. He is in a terrible physical and mental condition. Naked, unrestrainable, violent, self-harming (Mark 5:5), experiencing frequent seizures. He had given up living in a home years before, choosing to live among 'the dead' in tombs. This man was in a brutal state, and he was not someone to mess with. Why was he like this? Because his being was owned, possessed, by demons. What are demons? Demons are evil angels who rebel against God in eternity and spend their existence trying to destroy everything associated with God. Luke speaks of demonic activity, whether it be references to demons, being demonized, unclean or evil spirits, twenty-nine times in his gospel.
V28. Jesus' authority accepted.
Given what follows, it is interesting that the man comes to Jesus rather than running from him. Did Jesus' power draw him to come? The man is yelling and screaming at Jesus, and yet the demons possessing him know whose presence they are in. That's why he falls to the ground when he reaches Jesus. It's not that he trips because he is running. Mark tells us that he ran to Jesus; it's because the demons are requiring the man to bow before Jesus. Their deliberate use of the term “Son of the Most High God” is because they know the mind of Jesus on this. As is frequently the case in these interactions between the demons and Jesus, they want to reveal what Jesus would have kept hidden – his Deity. When Jesus left the glory, he 'covered' his Deity in human form to fulfil God's eternal plan of salvation. The demons wanted everyone to know this, thinking that it would serve their attempts to thwart the purpose of God.
V30. Jesus asks the demon's name.
That this is an exceptional occasion is seen in Jesus' asking the demons their name. Why? It's hard to say, but maybe it was because he wanted to show the disciples and those with him the magnitude of what he was dealing with and his power. The response is “Legion”. In the Roman legion, there were between 6,000 and 7,000 men. Whatever the specific number of demons possessing this man, they were numerous.
A plea for mercy quickly follows the revelation of their name. Jesus has already commanded them to leave and, while not resisting this because they know they could not, these evil spirits begged Jesus not to torment them. What do they mean? They are asking Jesus not to send them to their final eternal destination, the abyss, Revelation 20:1ff. In his account, Mark uses the word 'adjure' in reference to their pleading, which conveys the degree of intensity in their appeal, Mark 5:7. This is serious stuff; these demons are fighting for their lives in the face of Jesus' absolute power over them. Their plea is that they might be permitted to enter a large herd of pigs on the nearby hillside. Mark puts the number at around 2,000, Mark 5:13. In permitting them to do as they asked, Jesus is not granting them permission to escape the abyss. The demons leave the man and enter the pigs, how that is possible who can tell. We know so little about what is and is not possible in the spiritual war that is being waged around us all the time. But on this occasion, the permission granted was acted upon, and the result was dramatic. It must have been a staggering thing to see. One minute these 2,000 pigs are quietly feeding away, and the next, they are cascading uncontrollably down the hillside and over the edge into the lake where they are all drowned. It must have been some sight and generated some noise. The devastation of the pigs left no one in any doubt, including the formerly demon-possessed man, of the scale of the possession he had previously endured.
Debate surrounds the reason why Jesus permitted the destruction of these animals. Was it an indication of his indignation that they were being kept by Jews, something which was clearly against the Law of God, or was this a gentile-owned herd, and he was simply giving precedence to human life over animal life. I don't know; if I had to choose, I would probably go with the latter. I think this highly visible manifestation of Jesus' power, including the preservation of the life of this man, was the paramount issue. Jesus came to proclaim the good news of the power of the gospel to save, not to address specific cases of Lawbreaking, although there were occasions when he did address such behaviour when it related specifically to his mission, John 2:13ff.
V34. The Reaction.
The herdsmen on the hill were shocked at what they saw. The sheer trauma of it hitting them on so many levels. The sight, the sounds, possibly the thought of the financial loss. They immediately fled the hillside, telling anyone who would listen what they had witnessed. Word spread quickly, and soon the place where the tombs were was filled with people wanting to see for themselves what had happened. What they witnessed would have been wholly unexpected. The formerly, demon-possessed, naked, grossly violent man is sitting clothed and at peace at the feet of Jesus. It's unbelievable. So unbelievable that they are filled with fear. Not at the man, they would never have cause to fear him again, he would become an evangelist, but at the power of Jesus. You may think this is irrational; look at what Jesus had done to the man who had been terrorizing their community for years. Surely such power and the one who manifested it, would be lauded, heralded, welcomed into their homes; not so. They unanimously, with respect borne of their fear, ask Jesus to leave the area. Surprising? Not really when you think about it. For is that not the case with all unbelief. What rational explanation is there for a person to reject the Lord as their Saviour from eternal damnation – none. It makes no sense, and yet people will not have Jesus to be their Saviour and Lord.
V38. Go and tell.
For the 'saved' man, it was different. The demons had begged Jesus to let them flee from him; now, this man begs Jesus to let him go with him. What a story he could tell. Surely, he would be a great asset to Jesus. Through his testimony, he could bring real life to the message of the power of the Kingdom of God. But Jesus declines the request. Instead, he instructs the man to go and tell his family and others about what God had done for him. Mark says he began at home and reached out to the surrounding cities in an ever-increasing circle of activity, Mark 5:20. Note Jesus' clear revelation of himself as God. He would not have the demons do it on their terms, but he was not beyond doing so on his terms when it suited him. Jesus is always in control.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 122A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 58 - Which is required in the fourth commandment?
Answer - The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, in particular, one whole day in seven.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for the power that he possesses.
Thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ continues to protect his Bride from those who would do her harm.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley