Summary: Jesus crosses borders to bring peace and salvation.
“Ghosts in the Graveyard”
Here is a rather eerie story.
In Chapter 4:35 we are told that it was in the late evening that Jesus and His disciples set sail across the lake to the “region of the Gerasenes.”
And, on the way they had gotten caught in a storm.
Now, they had finally reached land.
It was probably getting pretty late by this time, and the night was pitch black.
They got out in an area, a part of the side of the lake where there were lots of caves in the limestone rock, and many of these caves were used as tombs in which dead bodies were buried.
So, in the best of times it was an eerie place; in the dead of night it must have been downright frightening!!!
And out of the tombs, to meet Jesus and the disciples comes the welcome wagon, shall we say.
But instead of bringing with him a pie and a warm smile, this welcome wagon brought danger.
We are told that this man who lived among the tombs was so strong that no one could subdue him, and that he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
And when he saw Jesus from a distance, he started running toward Him.
At this point, most people would have jumped right back in their boat and headed home.
Instead, Jesus waits for him to come.
And when he gets to Jesus he falls down on his knees in front of Him, shouting at the top of his lungs, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
And that is a pretty good question, in a sense.
I mean, what are Jesus and His disciples doing here, in this cemetery late at night?
Why did they come here?
Geographically, Jesus has ventured into Gentile territory.
And Gentiles were any people who were not of the Jewish faith.
And for a Jew to have anything to do with a Gentile would threaten to make the Jew unclean.
But Jesus is breaking down barriers that separate Jews from Gentiles, clean from unclean.
And while we are talking about “uncleanness,” graveyards were also considered to be contaminated.
For a Jew, touching the a dead body, or contact with graves made you unclean.
And so, the man who rushes out to meet Jesus is about as unclean as you can get!!!
He spends his days and nights howling like a wild animal.
He has been driven away from all human contact, and the demons seem to have stripped this man of every shred of humanity he may once have had.
The people have tried to chain him “hand and foot” in the tombs, but he has torn “the chains apart and [broken] the irons on his feet.”
No matter how much we may hate to admit it, some of the mentally ill homeless persons in our cities, especially those who exhibit violent behavior, can bring about the same fear and repulsion in people today as the demon possessed man did some 2,000 years ago
Yet volunteers at homeless shelters or at homes for the mentally ill often struggle to try and overcome their fear of the persons they are trying to help.
And if they are able to overcome their fear and repulsion, they are often surprised to discover human beings beneath the rags, the smell, and the wild language.
I am in no way trying to say that people living with schizophrenia or some other debilitating mental disorder are somehow “demon possessed.”
I am just saying that persons with these kinds of conditions are sometimes treated with the same kind of fear and disdain as this guy in the tombs.
But look how Jesus treats the man.
Jesus neither runs from him, nor does he try and shoo him away.
And instead of seeing a monster or an inhuman cast-away…
…Jesus sees a man…
…a man possessed, but still a human being created by God, cowering under the weight of the demons which have possessed and overtaken him.
The man is so overtaken that the demons do the talking for the man.
When Jesus asks for his name, the demons chime, “My name is Legion for we are many.”
And then, they beg Jesus “again and again not to send them out of the area.”
But recognizing that they aren’t going to be able to ward off Jesus…
…they aren’t going to be able to stop Jesus from saving this poor guy’s soul…
…Legion tries to strike a bargain with Jesus.
We are told that, “a large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.”
This point alone, continues to drive home the point that we are in Gentile territory, because, for the Jew pigs were unclean!