Summary: It seems that Jesus travels to the Gerasense for a specific purpose.
It wasn't your typical day at the beach. Instead of beach umbrellas, lounge chairs and a sandcastle, we have a cemetery, a violent man, the supernatural, outraged citizens and pigs. And I'm pretty flexible, especially about beaches, but I draw the line at pigs on the beach.
This is week four of our Day at the Beach series. We have been looking at events from the Gospels that have happened on and around the Sea of Galilee, which as we have already explained wasn't actually a sea but simply a lake. And we are picking up where we left off last week.
It had been a pretty full day, what with all the teaching, healings and all. Then Jesus and the apostles had gotten into a boat and headed across the lake. When dark came a violent storm suddenly developed and the apostles figured that was the end and woke Jesus up, didn't want him to miss anything. But instead of joining in the panic Jesus commanded the wind and waves to stop, and they did. Amazing, not only was he in control of the physical he was in control of the natural as well. And now morning had come and he was about to show his control over the supernatural.
The group landed at a point identified here as Gerasenes which if we pull up our trusty map was here on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. It’s interesting as you study the New Testament and read how scholars try to identify communities by the descriptions given them 2000 years ago.
The first church Angela and I pastored together was outside of Sussex New Brunswick in a hamlet called Hammondvale. To even call it a hamlet was being charitable. There was nothing there, zip, nada zero. Maybe 40 homes and a chapel that had been built a hundred years before. But if you were to read the history of Hammondvale from the 1800’s there was some mining going on, there were a couple of stores and a hotel, a lawyer’s office and several other businesses. And yet 90 years later you would be hard pressed to believe that any of that had ever existed.
That being said, it has been by guess and by golly that we say with great authority that this is the location. Gerasenes hardly existed 2000 years ago and doesn’t exist today, but this is where they figure it was.
And as Jesus and the group landed and came ashore they were confronted with a most unusual greeting committee. I’ll let Mark tell you more. Mark 5:1-2 So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him.
I would suspect that this man had not been selected by the chamber of commerce to greet newcomers to town, he probably wasn't part of the official Welcome Wagon. But listen to how he greeted Jesus and the apostles. Mark 5:6-7 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”
Did you catch it? There was something very important in what he said. Let’s read it again. Mark 5:6-7 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”
Right there, do you see what he calls Jesus? Son of the most high God. This is one of the first people to recognize and identify Jesus’ true identity and divinity. Up to now we heard him referred to as “Lord” or “Teacher” but this is the first time he is referred to as God’s Son. Interesting.
Some times when I talk to folks and try to get a handle on where they are spiritually they will say “Well I believe.” Well sure, everyone believes something, even if it’s that they believe there is no God. Or they will say “I believe in believe in God” or “I believe in Jesus” Listen to what the Bible, God’s word says James 2:19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
And it would appear that this guy knew his fate, and he understood the truth of Matthew 25:41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’” So he knew that he was destined for an eternity of punishment and torment and yet he still chose to follow Satan. Wow, good thing people aren’t like that. Oh, I guess they are.