Summary: If you really start to believe in who Jesus really said He was, then you’ve got to entertain the notion that he could radically change YOU too! That is scary!
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Luke 8:26-39 (NRSVA)
What do you do with a crazy man? (My wife maintains she married one!). In a very real sense the disciples were confronted with their boss, Jesus, whom they couldn’t understand. He did things…very strange and wonderful things. They had just docked at Gadera after a really weird and frightening experience on the Galilean Sea. It was weird in that they went through a storm that was so violent the boat was sinking; but they had to go down in the ship’s hold to wake Jesus up! He almost slept through all the excitement, but got up to tell the waves and the winds to “hush”…and they did! Weird!
Docking at the Gerasene side they no sooner got the boat tied up than they were confronted by a wild, shrieking madman. His hair was matted; he was naked, except for clinging parts of broken chains that couldn’t hold him down. He was not in his right mind…to say the least.
His “home” was living in the tombs that dotted the hillside. The man was like a wild animal, growling and threatening. Had I been one of the disciples it would’ve been a hard call to decide which craziness I wanted…the almost certain death of drowning back on the Sea of Galilee, or this mess.
When the man saw Jesus the fear started pouring out of him. In a spiritual “tug-of-war” the demons surrender to Jesus and beg him not to send them to confinement in the abyss…the place Revelation calls the final prison for Satan and all his demons. They chose to enter the pig herd, and that drove the pigs mad…they went over the cliff.
The man was healed, and when the townspeople got wind of how this had played out they came and begged Jesus to leave town. This is a story of destruction, deliverance and decision.
Sin is destructive; what an understatement! We all have pictures in our minds of the kinds of madmen that scare us…Sadaam Hussein, Charles Manson, and Adolph Hitler. They even look wild and unhinged! One that really gave me a case of uneasiness was Jeffrey Dahmer. If you recall back in the early 90’s Dahmer admitted to killing and cannibalizing nearly two dozen people. His dark side didn’t just show up one day. He had been killing all his life. He is the poster-boy for the doctrine of total depravity; that doctrine, by the way, says that you and I are no better than Jeffrey Dahmer. Given equal circumstances, total depravity says that any one of us could have done what he did…and worse! It says we’re capable of the vilest sin.