b) Freedom from a Legion of Demons
“They (Jesus and His disciples) went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!’ For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you evil spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this to the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:1-20)
After Jesus and His disciples landed their boat on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they met a man possessed with evil spirits, who lived in a graveyard where the tombs probably had been cut out of the hills. He constantly moved about, shrieking, and wounded himself with stones. So strong was he that he broke the chains with which the local people had attempted to bind him. Since herds of pigs were close by, it seems that the inhabitants of this area were Gentiles, not Jews.
When Jesus commanded the evil spirit to come out of the possessed man, the evil spirit – or, more accurately, a legion of spirits – recognised Jesus as “Son of the Most High”, left the man and entered into a nearby herd of pigs – so numerous were the evil spirits!
Through this healing Jesus again clearly demonstrated His authority over the spirits. When other people from this community investigated what had happened, they found the man free from the demon, sane and clothed. Yet, sadly, they responded not with joy and thanksgiving but with fear, and begged Jesus to leave! Is it possible that they valued their pigs more than the health and welfare of the man once tyrannized by demons? Or were they afraid of the power of Jesus that overcame the power of the demons?
The man himself, however, wanted to accompany Jesus, surely out of appreciation for what Jesus had done to help him. But Jesus had another plan for him. “Go home to your family,” He said, “and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” When the man obeyed Jesus, was he not also “following” Jesus, having become His disciple?
Have you ever told your friends how much the Lord has done for you? Is there any fear in your heart that blocks you from sharing this good news?