Jesus’ Life and Ministry
An Unlikely Disciple
WHAT a frightening sight as Jesus steps ashore! Two unusually fierce men come out from the nearby cemetery and run toward him. They are demon possessed. Since one of them is possibly more violent than the other and has suffered much longer under demon control, he becomes the focus of attention.
For a long time this pitiful man has been living naked among the tombs. Continually, day and night, he cries out and slashes himself with stones. He is so violent that nobody has the courage to pass that way on the road. Attempts have been made to bind him, but he tears the chains apart and breaks the irons off his feet. Nobody has the strength to subdue him.
As the man approaches Jesus and falls at his feet, the demons controlling him make him scream: “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I put you under oath by God not to torment me.”
“Come out of the man, you unclean spirit,” Jesus keeps saying. But then Jesus asks: “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion, because there are many of us,” is the reply. The demons revel in seeing the sufferings of those they are able to possess, apparently taking delight in ganging up on them in a cowardly mob spirit. But confronted with Jesus, they beg not to be sent into the abyss. We again see the great power Jesus had to conquer even vicious demons. This also reveals that the demons are aware that an abyssing along with their leader, Satan the Devil, is God’s eventual judgment for them.
A herd of about 2,000 swine are grazing nearby on the mountain. So the demons say: “Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.” Evidently the demons get some sort of unnatural, sadistic pleasure from invading the bodies of fleshly creatures. When Jesus permits them to enter the swine, all 2,000 of them stampede over the cliff and drown in the sea.
When those taking care of the swine see this, they rush to report the news in the city and the countryside. At that, the people come out to see what has happened. When they arrive, why, there is the man from whom the demons came out, clothed and in his sound mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus!
Eyewitnesses report to the people how the man had been made well. They also tell about the bizarre death of the swine. When hearing this, great fear grips the people, and they earnestly urge Jesus to leave their territory. So he complies and boards the boat. The former demoniac begs Jesus to allow him to come along. But Jesus tells him: “Go home to your relatives, and report to them all the things Jehovah has done for you and the mercy he had on you.”
Jesus usually instructs those whom he heals not to tell anyone, since he does not want to have people reach conclusions on the basis of sensational reports. But this exception is appropriate because the former demoniac will be witnessing among people that Jesus now will probably not have opportunity to reach. Moreover, the man’s presence will provide testimony about Jesus’ power to work good, counteracting any unfavorable report that might be circulated over the loss of the swine.
In keeping with Jesus’ instruction, the former demoniac goes away. He starts proclaiming throughout the Decapolis all the things Jesus did for him, and the people are simply amazed. Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39; Revelation 20:1-3.
◆ Why, perhaps, is attention focused on one demoniac when two were present?
◆ What shows that the demons know about a future abyssing?
◆ Why, apparently, do demons like to possess humans and animals?
◆ Why does Jesus make an exception with the former demoniac, instructing him to tell others about what He did for him?