By Dr. Donald Whitchard
“Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of God? I beg You, do not torment me”. For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. It had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles, and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demons into the wilderness.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”, because many demons had entered him. They begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So, they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them, and He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.
Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear, and he got into the boat and returned. Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.” He went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”
- Luke 8:26-39 (NKJV)
Jesus and His disciples had just crossed the turbulent Sea of Galilee, made smooth by just a word from Him. Arriving at the eastern shore of the lake, there are ten cities populated by the Gentiles, mostly Roman citizens who had little in common with their Jewish neighbors on the other side. Near the ten cities, known as a Decapolis, a man comes running up to Jesus whom the Scriptures tell us is possessed by demons. Matthew and Mark affirm that this poor wretched soul lived among the tombs, wild and uncontrollable, and his horrendous situation made him someone to be pitied and a figure of supernatural terror that seemed out of anyone’s control. Scripture does not tell us how this man’s condition began or progressed, but being from a Gentile or pagan background as this man was, it would be logical to assume that he served the numerous deities that were a part of Greek and Roman religious life.
A theory worth examining is that these “gods” and “goddesses” were not so much the product of ancient imagination, but may have had their origins in the worship of fallen angels who rebelled against God and formed their own type of worship. These fallen angels are whom the Bible refers to as “demons”. They are totally evil (Luke 10:17-18), powerful (Luke 6:29), numerous (Mark 5:8-90, unclean (Matt. 10:1), and are under the leadership of Satan (Matt. 12:24-30). Regardless of what some people tend to believe or think, demons are not and never will be on an equal level with the power and person of the Sovereign Lord.
While demons without exception are malevolent, diabolical, treacherous, perverse, hateful, and irrevocably wicked, they are subject to the decree and will of the LORD and can do nothing unless God allows it, and only for a limited time in order to show fallen humanity the terrible consequences of disobedience, rebellion, and sin. Even the coming tidal wave of wickedness and debauchery that the Bible speaks of as a characteristic of the last days is controlled by God as a means of judgment and punishment on wicked humanity and the evil beings who manipulate and control them. All who have rebelled against the LORD and have rejected the offer of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ, as well as the devil and his angels will be judged at the end of the Millennium and cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Matt. 8:29, 25:41; Mark 1:24, 3:11; Luke 4:41; Acts 16:19; Phil. 2:5-11; Rev.20:11-15).
These despicable beings came into this man and literally made his life hell on earth. He had supernatural strength that broke every chain and bond that the citizens of the towns attempted to restrain him in his fits of horrendous behavior. He ran around naked with all sense of modesty absent from his mind and character. In a desperate attempt to relieve himself of not just the physical pain, but the spiritual as well, he would cut himself with stones. He dwelled in the local cemetery, where he found solace among the remains of the dead in the tombs. This poor soul was beyond any hope. Then Jesus came to the shore, and with Him came the absolute power to rid this man of the malevolent creatures that were giving him nothing but torture, agony, and a sure journey to hell should the man die.
The demons see the One who is their mortal enemy, yet must bow to Him in abject terror, knowing full well that He has the Sovereign and absolute power to cast them into the Lake of Fire for all eternity if He so desired. These minions of Satan, who had foolishly and irrevocably turned away from their role as the servants of God to follow the prideful archangel Lucifer in a vain attempt to overthrow God and gain the rule and worship this rebellious creation envisioned. The Scriptures tell us that a third of the angels joined in the rebellion, forever losing their place in heaven and are consigned to join Satan in hell as an everlasting punishment for the wickedness they instigated (Matt. 25:41; Rev.20:10). These malevolent beings who have brought misery to many people throughout history now cower in terror before the King of Kings. The demons are like the school bully who makes life miserable to the other students until someone more powerful overwhelms him, humiliates him, and makes him surrender. They beg the LORD not to send them into the place reserved for final judgment.
Here we see proof that all things are to come under the subjection of Jesus Christ, including the forces of evil. With a word, Jesus commands the demons to leave the man. There is no discussion, no compromise, no second thoughts, and no cowardice except from these fallen beings who pitifully implore the LORD of all creation not to send them out of the country. Demons need someone or something to possess in order to carry out their work of destruction and evil, hoping to torment another soul who is not near the care and compassion of the Lord Jesus. If a demon can cloak a person’s mind to have thoughts of the world and the flesh, then the spiritual battle is almost complete. The final action is to cloud the person’s mind against the need to submit themselves to the will of the LORD. The best ammunition a demon has is to draw someone away from the protection of God by making them believe that they are all right in and of themselves and that they don’t need any help from God, placing their ego on the altar of pride and self-assurance.
Jesus now has these creatures under His Sovereign control and do whatever He wants with them. He grants their cry and allows them to leave the man and go into a nearby herd of pigs, which were being raised by local farmers to feed the Roman army and citizens of the cities. The animals are suddenly possessed by the demons and are driven to a steep incline near the edge of the sea where they leap off and are drowned. Again, the demons have no one to inhabit and go away to find another unsuspecting individual upon which to inflict calamity. The pig herders see all of this and run into town with the news, resulting in the people to come and witness what was going on. There they see the man who had been a terror to the region now clothed and in his right mind. You would think that there would be a proclamation of gratitude from them. The man who had been in such a state of turmoil was now free. They told Jesus to leave. What?
It is apparent that the lost value of a bunch of pigs was more important than the welfare of a man’s soul. Jesus does not argue with them or rebuke them for their callousness. He leaves. These people had essentially told the LORD what they thought of Him and His act of love and authority. This is a picture of the rejection by much of humanity throughout the history of the world toward the claims and compassion of Jesus Christ, and that is not just sad, but terrifying in terms of the eternal consequences. The grateful man, however, sees clearly that Jesus is more than a man, but God Himself. He begs Jesus to take him along, but the LORD tells him to go back to his friends and family and tell them about the great things God has done for him.
The man obeys and starts giving his testimony around the ten cities, causing amazement to come upon everybody. The next time Jesus comes to the area, the spirit of rejection that could have brought the area to spiritual destruction has now subsided and He is graciously welcomed. This is due to the part of the man who was the first Gentile missionary. It is little wonder that the Gospel flourished in Gentile areas as written later in the book of Acts. All of this came about by the work of this man who was freed from his spiritual tormentors and told the story for the rest of his life. Such is the power and might of our Lord Jesus. Glory to God.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.