Summary: Does Jesus have authority over the difficulties in your life? What if God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers on time, do you still trust Him? In this study we see Jesus take authority over the powers of darkness and death itself.
The last half of Luke 8 gives us two incredible stories of Jesus combating the forces allied against humanity - the hosts of darkness under the control of Satan, and darkness itself: death. Just before this episode, Luke records for us Jesus’ control over the elements as He calmed the wind storm that threatened to scuttle the disciples’ boat. Now we see Jesus commands much more than just the weather, but all the powers of the universe and we’ll see that what He calls us to do is drop our fear over what is allied against us and trust Him no matter what!
Verses 26 - 39 The Legion of Demons
Verse 25 - the area of the Gerasenes (or Gaderenes) was probably southeast of the Sea of Galilee. It was populated by gentiles - including what was known as the Decapolis or Ten Cities - which did not belong to any country but were self ruled. That is, by the way, why we find a herd of pigs there. Pigs were unclean to the Jews. Luke shows Jesus continued efforts to reach out to the gentiles, though His primary mission was to the Jews first.
Verse 27 - notice that although the man was driven out of town and lived alone among the tombs - avoiding human contact - when Jesus arrives the man is waiting for him on the shore. I wonder if the demons weren’t going on the offensive to scare Jesus away from their territory. We know from Daniel that demons do claim geographic regions. Matthew tells us there were two men - apparently only one did the talking.
Verse 28 - But even if that was the demon’s original intent - when it (or they) saw Jesus they realized it was not battling but begging that they needed to do. Sometimes it isn’t until we really experience the real presence of God that we understand the real power of God in our lives. The demons basically said to Jesus "we have nothing in common." They were not bowing down in worship, but in unwilling submission. And just because a person uses God-language or even quotes from the Bible doesn’t mean they speak the truth or are saved.
James 2:19-20 Even the demons believe - and shudder! ESV
What is demon possession? We don’t know exactly, but we do know that it is possible. I do not believe it is possible for a Christian to be possessed, but certainly influenced and even oppressed ("Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world" 1 John 4:4). Demons are able to control human bodies and make them do and say things they would not normally do - what a horrible existence!
Verses 29 - 30 Notice that the demon didn’t come out right away - that’s somehow because they could get away unless Jesus actually knew their name. A "legion" was the largest segment of a Roman army - between 3 and 6,000 men.
Verse 31 - Jesus had the power to send these filthy creatures to the Abyss - or Abuso in Greek. This is a place of torment where certain demons are kept until they are released during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 9 - Bottomless Pit).
Verses 32 - 33 They knew Jesus was going to throw them out but they wanted to strike a deal. Apparently demons can also possess animals. It was only by Jesus’ permission. The animals (Mark says 2,000) I’m sure panicked and ran down and killed themselves. They were intent on torment and that’s what they did to the pigs. And that is always Satan’s end game in our lives too: torment. Not pleasure or peace or security or happiness - though he promises all of those.
Verses 34 - 37 Two pieces of undeniable evidence are placed before the people of the region - the man they knew as out of control was now totally normal, and the herd of pigs that had been normal was now dead - and all this came under the direct control of this man Jesus. Their reaction was fear over the power of Jesus and perhaps anger at the loss of profit from the pigs. What is your reaction to the power of Jesus in someone’s life or when you read it in the gospels? Do you want to repel Him out of fear? Jesus complied with their wish and never returned. Don’t make that mistake in your life.
Verses 38 - 39 What a totally different reaction. The people want to never see Jesus again; this man never wants to leave Jesus’ side. Isn’t that the reaction of someone who has been saved by His grace? But Jesus wants him to go and be a witness, just like He tells us to go and be a witness of what He has done for us. Jesus doesn’t ask us to all be PhD’s in Theology or Apologetics - He just wants us to go back home and live our lives and share what He has done. And so he did.