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Summary: Can we be free from all the insanity and self-destruction in today’s world? Salvation is for every day and eternity. Let’s examine Jesus’ saving a gentile from his insanity in Luke 8:26-39.

Can we be free from all the insanity and self-destruction in today’s world? Salvation is for every day and eternity. Let’s examine Jesus’ saving a gentile from his insanity in Luke 8:26-39.

Captive to Insanity

Luke 8:26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee.

They “arrived” is literally “they sailed down” to the region. In a multilingual society this area had various names, the region of the Gergesenes, Gadarenes, and Gerasenes depending on whether a village or the whole region was being referenced. This was on the opposite side of the lake from Galilee.

From the Old Testament Girgashites, Gerasa is modern Jerash in Jordan, southeast of Galilee, where Jesus found a man who had allowed evil to possess him. All experience fleeting bad thoughts. When they fester, they can turn into evil actions. Who will bring us back from the brink of destruction?

Evil is a dangerous downhill path towards insanity. Murderous nationalism, terrorism and greed enthusiastically destroys the world, worshiping power and money. Not every insane act is found in a drooling wreck living in a graveyard. The insanity around us is ubiquitous, but there is someone who can save us, Jesus.

Luke 8:27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town.

Jesus was coming and the devil was probably not very happy. After calming a storm on the lake, a different challenge awaited the Lord on land. A man was there, possessed by many demons. The Greek more accurately says the man wore no outer garment. He only wore his underclothes.

Luke 8:28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!”

Recognizing Jesus as the Son of God from afar, the demons made the man run towards Him. Demons recognize Jesus, but some people do not. They know their future is a place of torment. It is also the place where unrepentant sinners are headed.

Luke 8:29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

Most of us want the world to get better, but don’t want to change. We want evils like addiction, crime, corruption, dishonesty and homelessness to end, but like the townsfolk, we seek to control evil because we don’t know how to overcome it. Jesus came to overcome and conquer evil.

Luke 8:30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons.

Are Bible demon stories just ancient ignorance? Carlton Cornett writes that ‘For a professional pursuit that prides itself on its uncompromising search for “the truth” of psychological functioning, psychotherapy has often gone to seemingly absurd lengths to avoid considering the possibility that the spiritual dimension deeply affects human life.’ [1]

[1] Cornett, Carlton. The Soul of Psychotherapy: Recapturing the Spiritual Dimension in the Therapeutic Encounter. Simon and Schuster. 1998. vii.

Jesus made no apologies for dealing with a man with obvious mental problems. We would perhaps diagnose it today as dissociative identity disorder (multiple or split personality). Some experts are open to the idea of demon possession even arguing for “possession syndrome” as a separate category of mental illness. [2]

[2] Spiegel, David. Dissociation: Culture, Mind, and Body. 1994. American Psychiatric Press, Inc. 131.

Luke 8:31-32 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission.

We don’t often experience demons in public. We isolate the mentally ill in institutions. Some professionals admit there is a mysterious and little-understood spiritual dimension to psychopathology, such as schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Jesus commanded the impure spirits to leave and gave them permission to enter a herd of pigs.

Freedom from Insanity

Luke 8:33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.

Along Lake Galilee there is only one spot where this could have occurred. Sometimes in solving a problem, destruction occurs. Why did Jesus give permission for this destruction? It rebuked those who disregarded Israel’s food laws for the sake of money.

Luke 8:34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran.

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