Summary: What fears cause us to back away from the Presence of the Lord? Fear that He will require more than you are willing to give? We can probably relate to some of the same fears that these people did many years earlier.
Fears that Keep Us from His Presence
INTRODUCTION: Jesus did many miracles when He lived on earth. One of those miracles involved the deliverance of a demon-possessed man who had been living among the tombs for a long time. He was so out of control that he could no longer be around people. He couldn’t live in a house or wear clothes. The people had tried to subdue him with chains, but he broke the chains. He was such a threat to people that they couldn’t even be out on the roads at night. He was so controlled by demon power that he was a danger to anyone who came near him.
Today’s scripture is found in three of the four gospels with slight variations. Just before this event takes place the disciples were about scared to death by a storm on the lake. As if this weren’t enough for one day, they witness the sight of this demon-possessed man immediately confronting Jesus when they arrived in the region of Gerasenes across the lake from Galilee. Maybe they were thinking that they could all gang up on him if Jesus needed help.
This was pagan territory and these people were Gentiles who were not familiar with the miracles and power of Jesus. We know this because no self-respecting Jew would keep a herd of 2000 pigs. Pigs were considered unclean animals and Jews don’t eat pigs, keep pigs or have anything to do with pigs. In a largely Gentile area, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. What his disciples saw that day was that not only can Jesus calm the wild waves of the sea but also he can even calm a wild, out-of-control demon possessed person. At any rate, this story of “deviled ham” caused so much fear that Jesus was asked to leave the region. Verse 37 says, “then all the people of the region asked Jesus to leave them because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.”
You would have thought that the people would have been happy to see this uncontrollable person restored to his right mind, dressed and no threat to anyone, but they weren’t.
1. The Reaction of the Different People:
(a) The demon possessed man: The demon possessed man was the first to stand in the presence of Jesus. He shrieked and fell to the ground before Jesus--but not to worship Him though. This reminds me of Philippians 2:10 “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” They (the demons) addressed Him as “Son of the Most High God.” The Message Bible says, “What business do you have messing with me? You’re Jesus Son of the Most High God but don’t give me a hard time.” Jesus had started to order them out of the man. They didn’t want to worship Him, but they recognized His power and they dreaded it. They had three main fears:
1. They didn’t want Jesus to torment them before the time. Matthew 8:29, "Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?”
2.Mark’s gospel account said they didn’t want to be sent out of the area. (Mark 5:10). Demons usually were thought to have certain territorial areas and this region was one of them.
3. And they didn’t want to be sent to the Abyss where they could no longer do their destructive work. In scripture the abyss was the abode of demons, a place of confinement or punishment. (See Rev. 9:1 and Rev. 20:1-3). Luke 8:31.
The demon possessed man was so controlled that when Jesus asked him his name they answered for him and said, “LEGION,” which in scripture represented a unit of Roman Soldiers or 6000 indicating tremendous power.
They begged him to let them go into the swine. The reason for this was that at least they would have a body to operate in and to continue their destructive work. Jesus said, “GO.”
(b). The swine herders: Usually several owners had pigs in a herd, rather than just one owner. When the swine herders saw 2000 pigs rushing over the cliff to their destruction once the demons entered into them, they were scared to death and ran to town to tell everyone what had happened. Maybe it was to incense the people against Jesus. In ancient thought the water or sea was a form of the Abyss so actually it appears that the demons met one of their fears where they couldn’t continue to do their destructive work. The pigs were no longer alive so they didn’t have a body to operate out of. They were confined to a lake which represented the abyss. I think they, in fact, realized all their fears.