Markby Robert M. Solomon
A demon-possessed person can be a frightening sight. Jesus and His disciples met such a man in the Gerasenes, an area largely occupied by Gentiles. The poor man was in a terrible state, homeless and living in the cemeteries. He was also naked and shameless (Luke 8:27). Having lost his sanity and self-control, he cut himself with stones. Even chains could not hold him still. ″No one was strong enough to subdue him″ (v. 4). Possessed by a legion of demons for a long time (v. 9), the man was a miserable wreck. He had become a resident of hell even on earth.
Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the man (v. 8). The man rushed to Jesus (imagine the fear of the disciples) but fell on his knees. A loud demonic voice spoke, asking Jesus not to torture them (v. 7). This was ironic as the demons were the ones tormenting the man. Jesus asked for the demon's name, and it replied that it was Legion (suggesting that there are many of them). The demon begged Jesus not to expel them from the region. Mark does not record why they wanted to stay in the region, but Jesus granted their request to enter a herd of pigs nearby. The pigs rushed with demonic frenzy down a steep slope and drowned in the lake (vv. 11-13). This dramatic exorcism was probably to reassure the man that he had been healed and delivered.
Unlike in his possessed state, the man was now resting (sitting), dressed, and had regained his sanity (v. 15). What an amazing change! But instead of being happy, the people in the area were ″afraid″ (v. 15). We wonder why. Were they worried about losing more pigs, or that more demons would be exposed among them? Amazingly, they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region instead of gladly welcoming Him (v. 17).
This passage portrays the demons begging Jesus not to expel them from the region (v. 10), the people begging Jesus to leave the very same region (v. 17), and the healed man begging to be allowed to accompany Jesus on His travels. Jesus granted the first two requests but not the last. Instead, He told the man to return home and become a witness for Him (vv. 19-20). The homeless man was then sent on his way.
What do you think this passage says about Jesus? Turn your reflections into a prayer asking Him to deliver you from all evil.
Why do you think Jesus granted the first two requests but not the third? How important is being a witness at home and in one's neighbourhood? Assess your own testimony in the light of this truth.