Summary: A look at the why and how of Jesus sending the demons into the pigs.
Drowning Pigs-That's Weird
It has all the elements that are needed to define a story as weird. A cemetery, two violent men, the supernatural and pigs.
The day had started with the Sermon on the Mount the morning before and Jesus had taught those that gathered around the basics of his Kingdom. How to deal with those we love and we those we don't love. What our responsibilities are with our emotions and our possessions. And at the core always lurked our motives. Why we were doing what we were doing and the impact it would have on God's kingdom.
After a morning of teaching Jesus made his way back to Capernaum taking time on the way to heal the leper, the Centurion's servant and Peter's mother in law. That evening saw him heal even more people and take some more time to teach what being his disciple was all about. And it was through his healings Jesus showed his control over the physical.
And then came dark and as Jesus and his apostles made their way across the Sea of Galilee in an open boat they encountered a storm, and is here that we see how 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 Jesus was about to show his control over the supernatural as well.
The group landed at a point identified here as Gadarenes which was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum. 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 the scholars say with great authority that they know where Gadarenes might have been located. Seriously, it 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 Matthew tell you more. Matthew 8:28 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.
This is week 5 of our "That's Weird" series here at Cornerstone and we've been looking at stories from the Bible that seem a little weird.
So far we have looked at an axe head that floated, a donkey that spoke, a fig tree that got cursed and a Prince who was hung by his hair. All stories that seemed a little strange to me. And understand that for some folks they just roll with it, they don't see those stories as weird at all.
When I was telling people about the series often they would offer suggestions. And some of their suggestions confused me, because they didn't seem all that weird. So, I guess like beauty weird is in the eye of the beholder.
So let's go back to the story.
I would suspect that these folks had not been selected by the chamber of commerce to greet newcomers to town, they weren't part of the official Welcome Wagon. But listen to how they greeted Jesus and the apostles. Matthew 8:29 They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?" Did you catch it? There was something very important in what they said. Let's read it again. Matthew 8:29 They began screaming at him, "Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God's appointed time?"
Right there, do you see what they call Jesus? Son of God. These are the first people we see who 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 by someone other than God. Interesting.