Jesus and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee to a region inhabited by Gentiles. We can be certain of this by taking note of the fact that they were tending pigs. There was a man there who had been possessed by a legion of demons. He was out of his mind, naked and dangerous. The people there had chained the man, only to see him break the chains with strength beyond that which is normal for a human. We can easily see that these demonic forces had deprived the man not only of his right mind, but of his human dignity as well, living as he did naked, alone and amongst the dead in the tombs.
Jesus comes upon the scene and wants the demons out of the man. The demons, knowing exactly who He was (8:28) begged Jesus not to torture them. Jesus grants their request to be sent into a herd of pigs and they ran the entire herd into the lake and were drowned. I must tell you that if I were the owner of those pigs, I wouldn’t be any too pleased that Jesus had just destroyed my entire livelihood; the text tells us that the tenders of the pigs ran into town and told everyone what had happened.
The people came running to see for themselves, but when they arrived they saw the crazy man dressed and sitting at Jesus’ feet, just as sane as they were; they were afraid. The idea of a Jew coming into their area and having complete authority over demons seems to have scared the you-know-what out of these good folks, and they asked Jesus to move on…
Jesus did so.
The man who had been saved by this begged to go with Him, but Jesus told him to stay and resume his normal life, telling everyone what God had done for him, and this the man did.
There are some very interesting things in this story that we should carefully take note of:
First, the demons know exactly who Jesus is, and they are terrified of Him. By extension, don’t you suppose that they are just as terrified of the Holy Spirit who indwells you?
2. Jesus had complete authority over those demons, and they did exactly what He ordered them to do.
3. When the Gentiles saw the power and authority of Jesus, they too were afraid and begged Him to leave them alone, which He did for the time being. Do you suppose that the terrified demons and the terrified Gentiles had something in common, other than their terror?
4. Jesus told the man to tell everyone what God had done for him, but when He had performed miracles for Jews, He was in the habit of telling them to be quiet about it. Let’s adopt a working theory that Jesus wanted the Gentiles to know about what the “Jewish God” had done for one of them to prepare the ground for another visit, and see where the story leads as we continue our adventure in Like’s narrative…