Summary: Jesus commissions a former demoniac to be a missionary to a group of people who just rejected Him. Neither were worthy, but that didn’t stop Jesus.
Intro: A man often walked through a cemetery on his way home. One night, though, unaware that a new grave had been dug in his path, he tumbled in. For some time he struggled to get out of the 7 foot deep grave, but finally gave up and settled down for the night.
An hour later, a farmer out possum hunting came walking through the cemetery and he too fell into the grave. He began a desperate attempt to get out, unaware that there was anyone else in the grave. The first man listened to him for a few minutes, then reached over in the pitch darkness and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You can’t get out of here,” the man said to the farmer. But the farmer did.
To the Jews of that day, even to touch a grave was to be unclean for 7 days. (Numbers 19:16)
The demoniac of Gerasenes didn’t just wake up one morning and say: "Hey, I’m demon possessed." This wasn’t something he was born with. OR something that he just came down with (like the flu or a cold).
Somewhere in this man’s life, he made a conscious decision that he wanted to be free. He wanted to be free of God’s influence. He wanted to be free from restrictions & responsibilities of life. He wanted to be free to do what he wanted to do.
And now, as a demoniac, he’s become free… No shackle can bind him, no chain can hold him. He’s no longer bound by social conventions that tell him how to dress and or how to behave. He has no responsibilities to society - because society no longer wants him.
He has become totally free…
But his freedom cost him more than he could’ve ever imagined it would.
Illustration: For the Christian, there are two extremes that must be avoided with reference to satanic activity. As C. S. Lewis aptly put it:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, can be hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 46.
(v. 1-6) The demonic was out of control physically and mentally, and had a mixed response to Jesus. School shootings; terrorist attacks
The encounter is explosive. The disciples’ boat beaches near a graveyard and a herd of pigs. Both are ritually and culturally unclean for Jews. As Jesus steps out, a crazy man storms out of a cavern. Wild hair. Bloody wrists. Scratched skin. Fury encased in flesh. Naked bedlam. Arms flailing and voice screaming. The apostles gawk and gulp and put a foot back in the boat.
He had an inner spiritual problem. The people tried to help him by restraining him physically when his problem was spiritual. All laws and regulations can do is treat the outer man, it just affects the behaviors without touching the source. No laws could change this man. No code of moral standards could free him. Most of us know what Christian behavior is and is not. But I am saying that a list of laws won’t change your heart, and that’s the part that needs changed.
In verse 3 the text says, “no one could bind him ANYMORE.” Apparently at one time they could subdue him but as he all he did was grew worse, so much worse that he was a hopeless situation. I believe that back in chapter 4 when Jesus said, "Let us go over to the other side", He knew exactly where He was going and who was there. I believe He heard him crying.
We see from verse 8 that Jesus first commanded the demons to come out of the man. Through this we get a glimpse into the unseen world of the spiritual war going on all around us. For just a few minutes the invisible conflict becomes visible and we are offered a position over looking the battlefield. We hear nothing from the disciples throughout this encounter. I pitcher them standing and watching this whole event with mouths and eyes wide open. But really, they did the best thing they could’ve done by setting back and letting Jesus fight the battle. The worst thing they could’ve done would’ve been to grab a hold of the demoniac and try to wrestle him down. If he could brake chains then he probably would’ve broke some bones.
Illustration: When Jimmy Swaggart defied the orders of the Assemblies of God to refrain from preaching for one year, he assured the public that he was free of moral defect, for, he said, Oral Roberts had cast out the demons from his body over the phone. Oral Roberts confirmed Swaggart’s report, insisting he had demons and their claws deeply embedded in Swaggart’s flesh. Now that the rascals were gone, Swaggart and Roberts asserted, Swaggart could get on with preparing the way for Christ’s return. Evidently, personal responsibility for sin can be dismissed by blaming it on an external force. Yet Flip Wilson’s famous quip, "The devil made me do it" is hardly comedy when we’re talking about the biblical view of sin. The Agony of Deceit by Michael Horton, Editor 1990, Moody Press, pp. 132-133.