Summary: I know that some of us came to the church this morning with a thousand problems at home or at work. How big or how many problems do you have? Give Jesus your problems because he can handle it. Claim his promise because he is the promise-keeper. Don’t be a
26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times 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 wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they 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. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
This narrative of Jesus against the power of evil is recorded in all three gospels. Matthew tells this story a little less in detail than Luke, but Mark gives us more detail than Luke.
Story like this, dealing with the supernatural realm of the unclean spirit, reminds me of my youth back in Burma. I joined a retreat in a small remote town call Kyautme, a town that belong to Shan State and mostly inhabited by the Shan tribe, a tribe that believe a great deal in shamanism.
One day as I was touring the town during the break with a fellow camper, we came across a house with a large crowd inside and out. We join the crowd and as saw a shaman trying to talk to the spirit. A shaman is a member of the tribal society who acts as a medium between the visible world and the invisible supernatural world. So this shaman was trying to communicate with the spirit on behalf of the family.
He was meditating and dancing for quite a long time but there was no spirit coming to him. Usually what happen was the spirit would take over a shaman’s body and talk. For example, if this family wanted to communicate with their late mother, the shaman would evoke the spirit of her mother and let the mother’s spirit takeover his body. In this case, when the mother’s spirit took over the shaman and the shaman would speak as the mother. A shaman is usually a man, but in this case like this produce a woman’s voice because he is no longer himself but the late mother of the family that has possessed his body.
We waited there for about half an hour, but nothing happened. Than the shaman shouted to the crowd saying that he sensed that there were “Jesuses” among the crowd, that’s why the spirit wouldn’t come. The tribal people called Christians “Jesuses” because they don’t have a special term like “Christians.” What he meant was that when the Christians were around, the spirit wouldn’t come. So he asked, “If there any Jesuses in the crowd, please leave. All Jesuses go home!” We didn’t want to look obvious, so we didn’t leave. We pretended that we were not the “Jesuses” he was talking about and we didn’t want leave also because we want to see what it was like.
Another fifteen minutes went by and nothing happen, and the shaman got annoyed. We also needed to get back to the camp, so reluctantly we left. Some people in town told us later that the spirit came. Every time I thought of that incident, I had a mixed feeling because I miss the opportunity to observe the appearance of the spirit. I felt I had the disadvantage of being a Christian. On the other hand, I felt the advantage of being a Christian because I realized that I was protected by the Spirit of Jesus Christ since the evil spirit was afraid of my presence with the Holy Spirit.