Summary: This message explores the words and ideas that show up multiple times in this passage and give us indication of the different ways we can react to the storms of life that we face.
- Last week, in previous passage, there was a literal storm; in this passage, the man is dealing with a “storm” caused by a huge problem in his life: demon-possession.
- Sometimes we find that the storm stays for longer than we thought it would. There are a lot of reasons this can happen - this passage focuses on one of the most common reasons.
- In this message, we’re going to focusing on the words and ideas that show up in this passage more than once and what we can learn from the different responses.
Why The Storm Doesn’t Go Away:
1. You can be “free” and bound at the same time.
- vv. 3, 9.
- What we see here is a man who is unbound physically - v. 3 notes that despite the people’s best efforts to chain him, he had the supernatural strength to break those chains. In that physical sense, he was free and unbound.
- At the same time, v. 9 clearly points out how “bound” the man was spiritually. He was possessed by a host of demons. (Possibly as many as 6,000, if the “legion” reference is meant literally.)
- So, we have a man who is “free” physically while being bound spiritually.
- In our society, we have so many people who are quick to claim their “freedom”: freedom to do what they want sexually, freedom to buy everything that they want, freedom to smoke whatever they want, freedom to live with whoever they want, freedom to do whatever they want.
- Ironically, though, these folks are also often simultaneously bound. They celebrate their freedom to do what they want sexually, yet they ultimately find the sexual experimentation unable to fill their soul. Free sexually, but bound by emptiness. Another may pursue what they want sexually, yet live in fear of the potential STD consequences. Free sexually, but bound by fear. Someone may celebrate their freedom to buy out the mall, yet find the pressing weight of credit card debt about to swamp their life. Free materially, yet bound by debt. Others celebrate their freedom to do whatever they want, yet in the end find themselves unable to rise about their existential nightmare. Free philosophically, yet bound by the lack of ultimate meaning.
- Jesus declared that the only one who was truly free was the one whom the Son had set free, but so many don’t understand that or refuse to accept it, settling instead for a “freedom” that is incomplete.
2. Many are more afraid of God than their “storm.”
- vv. 7, 15.
- When the demon Legion comes and bows down before Jesus in v. 7, his words make it obvious that he fears Jesus. Later, when Legion has been cast out (into the pigs) and the formerly-demon-possessed man is “clothed and in his right mind,” the people from the town were “afraid (v. 15).
- Many argue that the people’s fear arose primarily from the economic loss that had been suffered in the form of the dead sheep, but that doesn’t dovetail with the passage that well. The NASB has v. 15 as “They came to Jesus and observed the man hwo had been demon-poossessed sitting down, clothed and hin his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion’; and they became frightened.” The cause of their fear is what has happened to the man.
- For many of us, this makes little sense at first. Shouldn’t they have been excited and relieved to see the man changed? One would think, but their initial reaction instead was fear at the power that was at work here and their desire was for the source of that power to leave.
- In short, interestingly, they would have preferred to continue to have the same difficult situation than to have to deal with a power great enough to be able to change all that.
- Many people today do the same thing. They know the mess that they’ve got. They know the storm that they’ve been dealing with for so long. It’s a pain, but it’s a known pain. In many cases, they know that if they went to God for help that God has the power to make a difference, but there is the fear of the unknown - there is the fear of the power of God and all its potential implications. (“What will I have to change in my life? What would that cost me?”) And so, they choose to stick with the hardship of the storm rather than risk the uncertainty of what the God who could bring healing might ask of them.
- When you think about how many people struggle with hardships and problems month after month and year after year, knowing that there is a God in the universe, it makes you realize that the fear that the people expressed in v. 15 is still around today.