Summary: Jesus' authority over the demons is demonstrated. Because He has authority, we can be certain that as we do His will, we will accomplish what He appoints us to do and what He empowers us to do.
“They sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’ For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion,’ for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So, he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
“When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So, he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
Who would ever listen to a maniac? Would you? I believe the answer to that question should be, “That depends!” Of course, if we were talking about a real maniac, a raving lunatic who was obviously unhinged, few of us would give heed to what the person said. Someone who stripped naked and howled at the moon would not be a fit candidate for us to listen to, whatever that person might be saying.
I suppose that it is possible we might listen to someone that was called a maniac, under specific conditions. For instance, if we knew that the person indeed had been a raving lunatic, but suddenly the individual was transformed and speaking rationally, we might just pause to consider what was being said. It is likely the case that we would definitely listen to someone known to be a maniac if we knew them to be violent and destructive, but unexplainedly they were serene and reasonable, speaking in a calm and intelligent fashion. The point is, people can change. Maniacs can become people of character. And though we may be cautious in giving them our full attention, we can be induced to at least hear what they are saying.
In Luke’s Gospel, we meet a man who was a maniac. He was transformed by the Word of the Master. When that man wanted to follow Jesus closely, standing with Him as He returned to His home base, Jesus wouldn’t permit the man to follow. In fact, Jesus indicated that He had a more important role for that man to fulfill. The transformation from maniac to messenger is the focus of our study today.
IN THE COUNTRY OF THE GERASENES — “[Jesus and His disciples] sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” [LUKE 8:26]. Some older translations, following a few more recent New Testament manuscripts, indicate that the boat in which Jesus rode landed in the region of Gadara. Most older manuscripts, and consequently, newer translations that are based on these older manuscripts, recognise that the boat landed in the region of the Gerasenes. The region of Gadara was located at the south end of the Sea of Galilee. The Region of Galilee, however, was located at the northern end of the Lake, and this region was the area where Jesus focused most of His ministry.
Though Jesus did minister in other areas nearer to his home base, He appears to have been in the Country of the Gerasenes almost by accident. Nothing is truly accidental with Jesus, however. He had been teaching all day. Standing in a boat and speaking to those on the shore, He had at one point told a parable about a sower [see MARK 4:1-9]. The disciples didn’t really understand the parable, so Jesus was forced to explain the parable to them in considerable detail [see MARK 4:10-34]. Exhausted from teaching the entire live-long day, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us go across to the other side” [MARK 4:35b]. It would appear that Jesus and His disciples were travelling from Capernaum to the Plain of Bethsaida on the eastern shore of the lake.