Luke 8:26-39 (GW)
Jesus and His disciples landed in the region of the Gerasenes across from Galilee. When Jesus stepped out on the shore, a certain man from the city met him. The man was possessed by demons and had not worn clothes for a long time. He would not stay in a house but lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he shouted, fell in front of Him, and said in a loud voice, “Why are You bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You not to torture me!” Jesus ordered the evil spirit to come out of the man. (The evil spirit had controlled the man for a long time. People had kept him under guard. He was chained hand and foot. But he would break the chains. Then the demon would force him to go into the desert.)
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He answered, “Legion (which means ‘Six Thousand’.” (Many demons had entered him.) The demons begged Jesus not to order them to go into the bottomless pit.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on a mountainside. The demons begged Jesus to let them enter those pigs. So He let them do this. The demons came out of the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.
When those who had taken care of the pigs saw what had happened, they ran away. They reported everything in the city and countryside. The people went to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out. Dressed and in his right mind, he was sitting at Jesus’ feet. The people were frightened. Those who had seen this told the people how Jesus had restored the demon-possessed man to health.
Then all the people from the surrounding region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave because they were terrified.
Jesus got into a boat and started back. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged him, “Let me go with You.”
But Jesus sent the man away and told him, “Go home to your family, and tell them how much God has done for you.” So the man left. He went through the whole city and told people how much Jesus had done for him.
Fear is all around us. We can become frightened by what we see on television or in the movies or we may have our own inner fears. There are those who are afraid of speaking in front of a group of people; being in water; or the fear of darkness; fear of high places; or of strangers; or of confined places; or of dogs.
The Gospel reading today is about fear – the fear people had of the man possessed by demons, th fear the legion of demons had of being cast out into the bottomless pit. The herdsmen and the town people were afraid of Jesus after He cast out the demons into the pigs and how the swine rushed into the water and drowned.
All the people from the surrounding region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave because they were terrified. The one person who was not afraid was the man who had been possessed by the demons.
(When those who had taken care of the pigs saw what had happened, they ran away. They reported everything in the city and countryside.) The people went to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone out. He was dressed and in his right mind, sitting at Jesus’ feet. The man after being healed sat at the feet of Jesus to learn what he could from this One who had healed him.
Note in this passage, the man had not asked Jesus to heal him, but Jesus did it out of compassion for him.
The demons did not want to be tormented by Jesus, as they said, “Why are You bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You not to torture me!” It was not the man who cried out, but the demons within him. The man’s life was being controlled by the demons. So Jesus took control of the situation to bring relief to the man. After all was said and done, what did the man do? He sat at Jesus’ feet to learn all he could about Jesus.
I think there are 2 points in this Gospel reading. One is that we need to surrender our whole lives to Jesus, not just a part.
Another point is fear of the unknown. The people were afraid of Jesus because He showed a power over demons that they did not understand, so they were afraid.
There is a story that can help us understand this point better. It tells about a very wealthy person who lived in a large house with dozens of rooms. Each room was more comfortable and more beautiful than the other. One day he decided to invite the Lord to come and live with him.
When the Lord arrived, the man offered the Him the best room in the house, upstairs at the end of the hall. The man said, “The room is Yours to stay as long as You like and You can do whatever You want in this room.”
“Thank you” the Lord replied. With that the man shut the door and went about his business.
That evening, after going to bed, there came a loud knocking at the front door. The man opened the door and found that the Devil had sent three demons to attack the man. He quickly tried to close the door but the demons kept sticking a foot in the door.
After a great struggle, the man managed to slam the door shut. He returned to his room totally exhausted thinking, “Can you believe that! Jesus is upstairs sleeping while I am down here battling demons. Maybe He just did not hear.”
The next day things went about as normal. But that night a similar experience happened. All his energy was exhausted. “I don’t understand why the Lord does not come to my rescue? Why does He allow me to fight all by myself?
The next morning he decided to inquire of the Lord about all that had happened. He said, “Lord, I do not understand. Don’t You can about me? Did I not give You the best room in my house? I have had to fight demons for two nights, while You were sleeping. What more can I do?’
Jesus responded, “I do love and care for you. I protect all that you have given to My care. But when you invited me to come and stay at your house, you brought me to this room and shut the door to the rest of your house. I am the Lord of this room and have protected it so no demon may enter here.”
The man said, “Oh Lord, please forgive me. Take all of my house. I am so sorry that I never offered You all to begin with. I want You to have control of everything! Please forgive me for being selfish.
Jesus told him that He had already forgiven him and He would from now on take care of all things. That night the banging on the door occurred again. The man saw Jesus swing open the door where Satan was standing demanding to be let in. When the Devil saw Jesus, he said, I am sorry. I seem to have gotten the wrong address.” With that he and all the demons ran away.
The man in the Gospel reading surrendered to Jesus when all the demons left. He did not have to ask, Jesus acted on His own accord. The man, now free of the demons, sat at Jesus’ feet and just think how wonderful it was for Jesus, the Son of God, to be explaining to him what had happened.
As we live our lives, we need to surrender them to Jesus, allowing Him to take care of us totally. We need to trust and rely on Jesus as we go about living our lives. Just as children can rest peacefully even though storms may rage all about them, they trust that their parents are taking care of their safety, we can know that whatever turbulence is swarming around us, Jesus is there to help us through it.
The matter of fear about those things we do not understand like the town’s people who were afraid of Jesus because they did not understand what He had done. They did not believe that He was the Son of God. What they saw they could not understand, so they became frightened and demanded Jesus to leave.
The man who had been healed understood and wanted to go with Jesus. Jesus rather wanted the man to stay there and convince the people not to be afraid of Jesus’ power. Jesus wanted this man to help others to be delivered from their demon of fear and misunderstanding. He wanted the man to help others to surrender their whole house to Jesus, not just one room.
Healing comes to us in various ways. Some experience a miracle, some are given the power of courage and strength to endure their situation.
Some get angry with God thinking He caused problems to happen which forced them to give up something they truly enjoyed. But finally after much soul searching and screaming at God, when one surrenders the whole situation to God’s hands, they begin to see the peace and comfort He has been preparing for them all along. When one allows Jesus into every room of their life even the room of anger and what they see as the unfairness of their life, then His peace begins to take hold. Healing comes only when we open all the rooms of our life to Jesus. He then can work His power to its fullest. Amen.