Summary: The demon possessed man had another side we never view. Perhaps this will help.

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June 23, 2013

The Preacher of Gergesa

At the edge of town a huge pecan tree had grown next to the cemetery fence. One day, two boys picked up a bucketful of nuts and sat by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the haul.

“One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy.

Now, the bucket was so full, several rolled toward the fence.

A third boy was riding his bike by the cemetery. He thought he heard voices so he stopped to listen. Sure enough, it was voices from inside the cemetery. He heard, “One for you and one for me.” He knew what that was.

“Oh, my goodness!” he shuddered, “It’s Satan and St. Peter dividing the souls of people buried there. He peddled as fast as he could, down the road where he found an old man with a cane, hobbling along. “Come quick!” the boy said, “You won’t believe what I heard. St. Peter and Satan are in the cemetery dividing the souls.”

“You’re a crazy kid,” the old man said. “Can’t you see I care barely walk?”

The boy, now more anxious than before, begged for help. “You’ve got to come hear this!”

With great effort and help from the young man, the pair stood by the side of the fence, where they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me…”

The old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been tellin’ the truth! Let’s see if we can see the Devil himself.”

Now, shivering with fear, they peered through the fence, yet they were still unable to see anything but gravestones and tall grass.

The old man and the boy gripped the wrought-iron bars of the fence even tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of Satan. At last they heard, “One for you, one for me, and that’s the last one for you. That’s all. Now, let’s go get those nuts by the fence and we’ll be done.”

They said the old guy made it back to town five-minutes before the boy!

Today’s selected scripture, Luke 8: 26 through 39 is about a man who lived in a cemetery. The story relates how he went from a lunatic to becoming a preacher. There must be a joke somewhere in this story, since I’ve known some preachers who could easily fit the lunatic category, but for now, we will stick with the story as relayed in Luke.

The preferred transportation to this destination city was obviously boat, as they rowed toward Gadarene or Gergesa, a place on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Some scholars believe Gergesa was the ancient site where Girgashites lived, yet it is more probable that Gergesenes’ was introduced by Origen Adamantius, an early church theologian, whose hometown was likely Alexandria, Egypt. Origen was a thinker and upset some church leaders. For this reason, he was never made a saint. He was not politically correct for the time. Some confusion in this part of the story can be cleared up by reading Syriac versions of Luke.

From Capernaum they would have traveled across the length of the lake. The town’s name means; “house of escape”, and comes from two words meaning house of application or purpose and place of escape for a refugee. In modern understanding, Gergesa was a summer home City designed as a delightful get-away near the water. This is “ocean-front property”. And, according to our Scripture reference, there was a cliff near this Community. Such a cliff has helped find the site, which has enabled a GPS location to be fixed.

You can see in your mind how this incident took shape. The boat slid up on the sand as a couple of disciples jumped out with ropes to secure the vessel. No welcoming party was expected, but there stood a man who lived outside Gergesa, waiting for Messiah. This man was not normal; in fact, the Scripture informs us that he had a demon in him for a long time. He was standing there without clothes, and his home was among the gravestones in the City’s cemetery.

Yeshua’s presence set off a demonstration of sorts; yelling and falling down. The man’s voice then said, “What have we in common, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you not to torment me.”

This was one person using the word “we”, indicating more than one influence in his life and body. He could have had multiple personalities, which would have confused the people of Gergesa, who likely banned him from the City limits.

This guy was physically very strong! Somebody bound him in chains and he was kept in fetters, but when he decided to break free, he just threw off these bonds and went screaming into the desert. Common signs of demon possession were found in this man, particularly the super-human strength. Other observations of demon possession included apparent access to hidden knowledge and utterances that are not languages, drastic changes in vocal intonation and facial structure. Sudden appearance of scratches and bite marks, plus lesions were seen. Today, the Catholic Church particularly, practices exorcisms with specific rituals to relieve people of these characteristics. However, Messiah didn’t do what an exorcism is normally thought of today.

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