and crying out with a loud voice, he said,
"What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, donít torment me."
For he said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"
He asked him, "What is your name?"
He said to him, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
He begged him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
Now there was on the mountainside a great herd of pigs feeding.
All the demons begged him, saying,
"Send us into the pigs, that we may enter into them."
At once Jesus gave them permission.
The unclean spirits came out and entered into the pigs.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea,
and they were drowned in the sea.
Those who fed them fled, and told it in the city and in the country.
The people came to see what it was that had happened.
They came to Jesus, and saw him who had been possessed by demons sitting,
clothed, and in his right mind, even him who had the legion; and they were afraid.
Those who saw it declared to them how it happened to him
who was possessed by demons, and about the pigs.
They began to beg him to depart from their region.
As he was entering into the boat, he who had been possessed
by demons begged him that he might be with him.
He didnít allow him, but said to him,
"Go to your house, to your friends,
and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you,
and how he had mercy on you."
He went his way, and began to proclaim in Decapolis
how Jesus had done great things for him, and everyone marveled.
What does this reveal about Jesus?
Jesus is Lord over demons and can bring the demon-possessed back to their right minds.
Notes & Applications:
Here we see how demons reckon Jesus. When they see him, they fear because they know of their coming eternal torment in hell which Jesus will put them through. (Jesus isn't Santa Claus!) Thus in Matthew they declare: "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" There is a popular misconception about devil and his angels and their place in hell. They will not be ruling there, they will be tormented there. They don't want to go there. Another thing we notice is that there is no power struggle going on here. If Jesus tells them to do something they do it! Sometimes I wish the Christian community would be as obedience to Jesus as demons are. They understand the concept of the Lordship of Christ. Humans are worst than demons. When Jesus speaks, demons listen and hail him as the Son of God. But most humans don't listen to him, and of those who do, few submit to His Lordship.
Casting out demons is not a matter of ability, but of authority. One needs no special magical powers to cast out demons. There is much misconception in the secular world about struggle against spiritual forces. Movies are made which introduce concepts of magic which humans can use to overcome spiritual forces. That is not Biblical. Satan would like nothing better than to get people caught up in concepts of magic in order to dissuade them from the truth. Demons respond to authority. They think in terms of hierarchy. But then again you can't use Jesus name itself like it was a magical incantation or the spirit may get wise to your deception.
Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. Acts 19:14-16Here the spirit recognized Jesus and Paul as proper authority figures, but that the sons of Sceva were not.
What's the deal with the pigs?
I think the concern these demons had was that Jesus would cast them out and throw them into hell. It's interesting to note that they prayed to Jesus, asking him a favor. It's seems that Jesus will listen to anyone who humbly submits a request before him, even if it comes from demons! So if he listens to demons, do you think he'll listen to you? Jesus isn't Santa Claus, but he is gracious even to demons.
However, typical of demons, they also had a plan to get their way nonetheless. For good is it to inherit a bunch of pigs. Humans were their objective. But if they could get Jesus to agree to them being cast into pigs, they could later kill the pigs and be release to roam the land looking for another victim.
"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first."
There were two different reactions to these events. The people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. But why? Hadn't he just healed this demon-possessed man? I suspect some viewed him as in league with the demons and blamed him for the destruction of the pigs, as the Pharisees would later accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan. Others, upon hearing how the demons reacted to Jesus, may have been simply afraid of him as the demons were. But it is interesting that Jesus told the demons to leave and then the people told Jesus to leave. Makes you wonder if perhaps they were satisfied at having these demons committed to this one guy's body. But now they were released like a disease and the who populace felt threatened.
But the man healed had a different reaction. He wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus didn't let him. At times we have ideas about how we would like to follow Jesus. But Jesus may have different ideas for us. In many cases his disciples had to leave family to follow him, of which he promised rewards. But this man he sent home. Was he not fit to be a disciple? Jesus had cast out demons from Mary Magdalene, who become a prominent woman in his ministry. Certainly this man was no less qualified. And why is it that with most of his other miracles he tried to discourage people from talking too much, but he encourages this man to do so?
Perhaps as Jesus was cast out of the land, he left this man behind as a witness of his grace and mercy, concepts of which the towns people may have overlooked. And of course his greatest witness would be to his own family of whom he would appear as if one risen from the dead. In this way Jesus would provide a more open door in the future to this region.
An allegorical application may be that as we turn to Jesus, he brings us back into a right state of mind. I find that most unbelievers (or "pre-believers") though they may be wise in the ways of the world are often infants, unreasonable and often irrational when it comes to spiritual matters. But having been clothed with Christ and sitting with him, one becomes in a right state of mind.