HG065-66 Matthew 8:18, 23-34, Mark 4:35-5:20, Luke 8:22-39
22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” 26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 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. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For 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 demon into the wilderness. 30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. 32 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. 33 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. 34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 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. 36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. 37 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. 38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
This passage comes after quite a busy day for Jesus and His disciples. The crowds are thick and after a great deal of preaching outdoors Jesus says; ‘let us go over to the other side’.
At this point they send the multitude away, get into the boat and set sail with Jesus aboard. It would seem that there were quite a few disciples at this point as they were not the only boat who were making the five mile trek across the lake.
But something happened; a storm of tremendous power descended upon them all very suddenly (Matt 8:24). And there was Jesus asleep in the back of the boat! What peace He enjoyed whilst the others were panicked and fearful and afraid for their lives! Four of these disciples were hardened fishermen giving force to how bad this storm really was; if these seasoned fishermen were afraid it was quite something. They were to learn their need of a power outside of themselves for this divinely appointed trouble.
Jesus was then awakened and He arose and said: ‘Peace, be still’. In a moment all was calm – very calm. The contrast couldn’t have been clearer. But Who is this who speaks and it happens? Mark’s Gospel says they were afraid during the storm but they were very afraid after it. His humanity and divinity was on full display here: a man exhausted after a day’s work sleeping through a storm and God who, with words, controls His creation. All weather is controlled by God, even the snow:
They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.
(Psalm 65:7, Psalm 89:9, Psalm 104:7, Psalm 106:9 say similar things)
Now we turn to the words Jesus spoke afterwards: ‘why did you fear? How come you have no faith?’ They received a not-so-gentle rebuke: they no longer feared the wind and the waves but were now in awe of Jesus.
How is it that after we have seen God move amazingly that we are so quick to forget? We are faithless but He is faithful. Did He cast off His disciples because of their lack of faith? Did He cast them off when they sinned? In all this Jesus was patient and showing great love. What great comfort this is! When we fail He, at least, will not desert us or cast us off.
It was Jesus who initiated this journey saying: “Let us go over to the other side” and when He does this He brings us through to the other side. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).
After the storm that Jesus calmed we see here another case of calming that is of more infinite value – the calming of a soul. It would seem from the reading that this man was the only reason why he crossed the lake in the first place though a valuable lesson was taught to His disciples on the way.
Yes, He came to seek and to find. The man He came looking for was tormented by a legion of demons: A Roman legion was 6000 men. This man had unusual strength that with whatsoever they bound this man he would break the chains. He lived as a wild man and perhaps more like a wild animal.
The man who is the devil’s has no control over himself whereas the people of God (2Ti 1:7) hath not been given the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. It would be obvious to say that the man in this passage was not of sound mind until Jesus saved him.
This man, when he saw Jesus, immediately came running to Him and worshipped Him. The demons in this man recognised Jesus and called him the Son of the Most High God. What other people couldn’t see, the devils within this man could see, for they knew Him from before times and now trembled and feared awaiting the just judgement. Let’s note that knowing who Jesus is could not save them and as we see later with the people asking Jesus to leave, knowing who Jesus is is not enough to save as the devil and the people disown Him. What have we to do with you? was not only the question of the demon-possessed but of ordinary people.
There are some among Christians who do not believe in demon possession and see all these stories in the Bible as quaint but simple story telling;
Luke describes demon possession, and in our present sophistication we presume he meant some form of mental illness. Today, psychiatrists, physicians, and psychologists seem to have a new name for an age-old problem.
That is not to say all these problems are demonic but we cannot discount the spiritual.
This passage is the most detailed of all in the Bible about a man who has an unclean spirit. This would probably have been put down as a mental illness today but the problem lies in the fact that up to the present day the disease of epilepsy or psychosomatic problems are not transferable to another especially to a herd of pigs! Unlike in this passage where the pigs do a suicide run!
Irena and I have had experiences with such people and they have knowledge which is not of this world – one man who we went to visit in Macedonia said to us ‘You believe you are sons of God – no you are children of the devil’ and this before we said a word to him! Demon possession and unclean spirits exist today just as in Jesus’ day.
The other extreme of people are those who see demons in everything and give credit to the devil for things he has not done! Both extremes need to be avoided. The devil is at work today and his aims and temptations are the same – he want to steal, kill and destroy and tempt us:
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
The way to avoid these pitfalls is to submit to God and resist the devil.
Satan is real and powerful but he is not as powerful as Jesus who defeated him at the cross and rose again. Those who belong to Jesus need not fear for our trust is in Jesus, His Name and His blood.
The demons were fearful of being cast into the abyss. They had to ask for leave to go into the pigs. Just as they had to have permission to be in the man in the first place. The demons couldn’t care whether they were in a pig or a man for they need flesh to do their work. Jesus, though values this man highly for he travelled all that way just for him: for this purpose Christ was revealed – to destroy the works of the evil one. The 2000 or so pigs did not like their uninvited guests and committed suicide disembodying the demons again. Maybe the demons, as a result, got what they feared anyway and went into the abyss.
Here we can see the power of Jesus again not just against storms but also the power of demons.
The Gadarenes was where the apostate Jews lived and probably why the demons were happy to stay there in that region where they even kept pigs, a complete ‘no, no’ for Jews. But these people were given a chance to repent but they rejected Jesus for fear; fear that did not lead to repentance but to a fear of judgement. They behaved the same as the demons and the thing they feared most will come upon them.
What should we expect in the world? Most people will reject Jesus but there are some, the ones and twos, here and there, that will accept Him. Jesus went over the sea and through the storm for one man and He came from Heaven to earth for us and through the storm of the cross and though very few are saved He saw the travail of His soul (Isa 53) and was satisfied.
It is strange to me that there are many places in the Gospel where people are cured and delivered of so many things but never get another mention. It seems that they were healed and made free but what happened in the rest of their lives? Were they born again? Were they only delivered in things of the flesh?
This is why I like this passage; we see the healing and transformation and then we see fruit; this is truly one that has been set free not only in the body but in the soul too. We see here that he begs to be with Jesus and this is how we all ought to be; to yearn to be with Him who has done all for us. So the desire is laudable indeed. Except there is work to be done in the meantime.
We see that this man is turned away; it is not his lot to go with Jesus; Jesus has another purpose for him. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We need to let God be God in our lives and follow His purposes and we will rest and abide in Him.
Now purpose is given to this man; go back tell your friends how great the things He has done for him. This is the duty of every Christian; Jesus is not a secret for ourselves only; we are to glorify God in our bodies and that includes our tongues, telling others as He gives opportunity what He has done for us. Not just to each other as Christians good as that is but to tell unbelievers too. What would we say if we were asked what has God done for you? If we are in a living relationship with Jesus then our testimony should be fresh/recent.
And let us take note of where this formally demon-possessed man has to go; home; not abroad but home! If there he cannot be a witness then he is truly a fake. If at home you cannot prove yourself a Christian then abroad you cannot either. It is at home that you are truly tested whether you are what you claim to be and what Jesus claims to be. We cannot hide from our friends and family who know us so well as to whether we have been changed!
The result is that this man published the good tidings about Jesus in the very place that Jesus was told to depart. Isn’t this mercy? All that heard marvelled.
What have I to do with you, Jesus? If the answer is not everything then why are we here? Do we come to worship, to fellowship, to hear God’s Word out of duty? Surely not! Everything we do should be inspired by this question as a response to his amazing love and in telling others what He was done for us so that they too can marvel.
Let us also take great comfort in the power Jesus: power over the storms in life, power to bring peace and calm, power that shows us His love and care for each individual.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Larson, B., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1983). Luke (Vol. 26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 09:00 03 March 2018.