Summary: Don't be deceived by the lie of self-help. Jesus is your only hope.
Thank you for your prayers for Dale Pond and me as we traveled to Uganda and Tanzania to train pastors and to preach in the churches. We worked with over a thousand pastors who are hungry to learn how to build a Healthy Church.
Greg Smith, our friend from Atlanta, joined us. Greg is a great guy, but like most of us he was pretty mischievous in college. Dale and Greg went to Hardin Simmons University back in the 1970s. During that time the movie “The Exorcist” was released. It was a scary movie, not really based on the Bible, but it spooked a lot of people about demons.
As I said, Greg was known to pull a few pranks. One day he took the speaker wires going from his stereo system and ran them out his window and up in through the window of the dorm room right above his. He had a master key, so while the students in that room were gone, he hooked his speaker wires to their speakers.
He waited until the guys in the room were asleep that night and then he cranked up his stereo. He and his roommate could hear the music blasting up above him. They heard the guys jumping out of bed. They tried turning down their stereo. Nothing happened. They tried turning off their stereo and even unplugging it but the music kept blasting. So, they ran out of their dorm room screaming that their speakers were demon possessed. That went on for a couple of nights until they were convinced their whole room was demon possessed. Not really, it was just Greg playing a joke.
But demons are no joke. In this message we’re going to examine Jesus’ remarkable power over demons. Remember, Jesus and the disciples had just come through the storm. And when they finally reached the Eastern shore of the lake, it was probably early morning. That’s where they encountered another storm; and this storm was raging inside a disturbed man.
Mark 5:1-20. They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
We know exactly where this miracle took place, because there is only one location on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee where there is a steep cliff and there are still ancient tombs dotting the steep hillside.
This is one of the most remarkable miracles of Jesus. When I’m in Israel I always tell the travelers that when Jesus cast these demons into those pigs it was the first example of deviled ham in the world. Those animals went hog-wild and performed a perfect swine-dive into the water. They drowned themselves, so you might say it was soo-ey-cide.