Summary: Jesus expands his ministry into gentile territory and is immediately confronted by evil. He overcomes the evil and in doing so assures us that he will overcome whatever evil that confronts us in our lives.
Luke 8:26-39 “Supreme Power”
One of the all time favorite Bible stories is the tale of David and Goliath. We all remember the story of gutsy little David, who was a shepherd by trade, going against the giant Goliath, who was a professional soldier. David was so scrawny that armor didn’t fit him, so without protection and armed with only a sling and five stones David faced Goliath. Goliath thought it was a joke, but stopped laughing when he was hit by a stone from David’s sling. David quickly slew the giant and gained the victory.
We love that story because it is the classic underdog story. The weak gained victory over the strong, the small over the big, and good overcame evil. But we miss the point of the story if we focus on David. David slew Goliath because the Lord was with him. God gave him the victory.
In the gospel text today, we have a rendition of the David and Goliath story, only this time it was Jesus versus a demoniac man. Like the story of David and Goliath, it inspires us. The story also empowers us to boldly step into new areas of mission and ministry.
We can get lost in the details of the story and miss its powerful message. The point of the story is not to prove the existence of demons. Nor is it meant to be a soapbox for animal right activists on the cruelty inflicted on a herd of pigs. The theological symbolism of water isn’t the main point of the story, either.
Jesus expands the scope of his ministry. He and his disciples leave the relative safety of Israel and Galilee and travel to the threatening, pagan, Gentile lands on the east side of the Sea of Galilee (the Golan Heights). Jesus steps out of the box in the same manner that he asks his follows to step out of the box when he made them witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outermost parts of the earth.
When Jesus entered the Gentile lands (the real world) he was immediately confronted by evil. Jesus didn’t flinch, though, he was more powerful than any demon or legion of demons. He immediately cast them out of the man both healing the man and destroying the demons.
The moral of the story is that there is nothing too powerful for God. As people of God, God is with us, and he will do great things in and through us. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think.”
We all have our personal demons. Though God accepts us for who we are and where we are at, God also wants to cast out the demons in our lives and grow into God’s image. The Christian Life is a life-changing experience—more than a rags to riches story—it is a transformation of our being. We may face the demons of depression, fear, inadequacy, self-hatred, pride, addiction, greed, or many others, but God is more powerful than our demons and gives us the victory.
Life contains many challenges. Our health, financial wellbeing, relationships can all be threatened at one time or another. There are times when we seem to be overwhelmed by life—life will destroy us. God is greater than anything with which life threatens us. God wants us to be more than we are and all that we can be. God has given us an abundant life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul writes to the church at Rome, “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us so.”
As a congregation, we face many demons—many challenges. The mission of reaching people and changing lives in the community of Surprise is daunting. We face the challenge of financing the ministry to which Christ has called us. We have land to pay for and our mission/worship center to build. Any one of these demons could overwhelm us, but God is with us and God is greater than any challenge or evil we may face.
Jesus never calls us to the status quo. He always calls us to step in faith outside our comfort zone and expand the circles of mission and ministry.
Jesus, however, doesn’t leave us alone when we go into the world. Jesus is with us—the same Jesus who defeated a legion of demons.
The only way we can lose is if we do nothing.