Summary: Jesus speaks His authoritative Word & the strife and rage of demonic possession flees & leaves a great calm in its place. Jesus exercised authority & compassion that freed people even from demon possession.
MATTHEW 8:28-34 [THE MESSIAH REVEALED SERIES]
PRINCE OF PEACE OVER THE SPIRIT WORLD
Previously Jesus has demonstrated His power and authority over diseases and nature. Now we see His power over the unseen supernatural world. Jesus brings back lost life and demonstrates Himself Lord of still other dimensions and darker realms. The Prince of Peace brings peace to men tortured and torn by mysterious tyrannical powers. He speaks His all-powerful authoritative Word and the strife and rage of demonic possession flees and leaves a great calm in its place. Jesus exercised authority and compassion that freed people even from demon possession (CIT).
Jesus’ meek power is authoritative in all realms and with all beings. Even before the crucifixion Jesus had absolute, universal authority. The men in the boat wondered what kind of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him. The demons know and will tell them.
I. VIOLENT DEMON POSSESSION, 28-29.
II. VOLATILE DEMON EXTRACTION, 30-32.
III. VANQUISHING THE LORD, 33-34.
The group having crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee arrives on the eastern shore in verse 28. “When He came to the other side into the country of the Ga/da/renes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.”
Jesus and His disciples made it the rest of the way to the other side of the lake with few words I imagine as they contemplated the overpowering event they had just witnessed. They came ashore below the middle of the lake, in the country of Gadarenes near the lesser known city of Gerasa, a predominately Gentile area. [The name Gadarenes comes from the town of Gadara, the capital of the region about eight miles southeast of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee.] The eastern side of the Sea of Galilee has limestone cliffs that are full of caves. The dead were buried there. Who else but a maniac would haunt the tombs.
Out of these tombs burst two exceedingly violent men. These men were so violent (÷áëåðïé), fierce, savage, even ruthless translates the word, that they were able to keep the whole community at bay. There were no flowers laid at these tombs. [This was no nominal possession as legions (Lk. 8:30) of demons possessed these men.]
“Three things in this verse would have shocked the first-century Jewish reader. First, Jesus purposefully entered Gentile territory. Second, He went to a cemetery, thought to be unclean because of the dead bodies, and also thought to be inhabited by evil spirits. Third, He was met by two men possessed by demons. Just as first-century people treated natural forces with greater respect than we do, they also respected more highly the forces of the spirit world. The concept of going face-to-face with demons was frightful to the first-century reader. These two men were so violent and dangerous that people avoided them.” [Weber, Stuart. Holman NT Commentary. 2000. Broadman & Holman. Nasnville, TN. P. 121]
Demon possessed people are under the control of one or more demons. Demons are fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God and are now evil spirits under Satan’s control. They help Satan tempt people to sin and have great destructive powers. Demons are disruptors of the whole life of man.
Verse 29 discloses the demons knew who Jesus is even though He is incarnate in human flesh. “And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
The Devil’s agents recognize Jesus and speak out through the men they possessed. They cried out in a sudden, startling, powerful voice fitted to shock weak nerves but not the cry of men about to attack. The men with the strength to break free of chains and shackles (Mk. 5:3-4; Lk. 8:29) that terrorized the whole region were subdued by the stranger who arrived in the neighborhood. Jesus was no more afraid of them than He had been of the storm.
The demons recognize Jesus as God’s Son. Now the fact that they believed Jesus was God and had an understanding of the purpose of life and eternal destiny did not save them (James 2:19). They were not willing to come underneath nor yield their life to Jesus’ Lordship [though they must still heed His command]. Mark says they even fell at His feet (Mk. 5:6), in acknowledgment of His authority, but not in worship.
It is obvious that despite their correct belief about who Jesus is, they are not headed toward heaven because they ask Jesus if He came to torment them before the time. To what time are the demons referring? To the day they would be cast into the bottomless pit (Rev 14:10; 20:10). They feared that Jesus had come to prematurely punish them. Here is also the indication that Christ has the power to hurl the demons into the abyss even before the appointed time.