Jesus came to the land or region of the Gerasenes and met a man possessed with demons. When Jesus cast the demons out he asked their name and they responded saying, “Legion; for many demons had entered him.” (Verse 30)
The Legion of Demons
The use of this name is interesting for it represents a number. A legion of the Roman army consisted of 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers plus usually and equivalent number of support personnel. So in total a legion could have been as many as 12,000 people sent to wage a war.
Now when this demon in the man of the Gerasenes called itself “Legion,” it was saying there were possibly up to 12,000 demons possessing this man. Is it any wonder he was mad and driven to all kinds of self-destruction by the demon.
The Power of Jesus
But this demon for all of its numbers and power over the man had no power when Jesus approached. The demon stood in fear of the Lord, recognising that he was the Son of the Most High God. When Jesus told the demon to depart from the man, it had to obey.
The demon however sought a concession, to be allowed to enter a herd of swine feeding in that area. When Jesus gave it leave to do so, the herd fled and ran down into the sea and were drowned, so the demons did not get their way anyway. What we learn from this too is that it is possible for an animal to be possessed by demons as well as people.
Jesus has authority over all sickness, illness and the spiritual realm as well. There is nothing over which he does not have power and authority with the one exception of the Father. And all of this power and authority can be brought to bear on our problems and issues when we ask for his help.
But then consider the people of the district surrounding the region of the Gerasenes. After the swine rushed to their death, the herdsmen fled to the nearby towns and told the story of what happened. The people came out to see and found the demoniac seated at the feet of Jesus, healed, fully clothed and in his right mind. The people were seized with fear at what had happened and they pleaded with the Lord to leave them.
Jesus did not argue or try to preach and teach the people. And we can learn from this too. When asked to leave, just do it. Don’t argue or complain, don’t put your foot in the door like some pushy salesperson, just take your leave as requested. What we need to remember is when in that situation it is the Lord who is in charge and he will work the way he wants to.
Jesus Leaves a Witness
We see in this example too that his approach was different to other situations where he healed the sick or demon possessed. In most cases he told the person not to tell anyone but keep it to themself how they had been healed. But in this case, the demoniac wanted to come with Jesus after being healed, but Jesus refused telling him to, “”Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Verse 39) Then we see the demoniac go back into the city proclaiming all that Jesus had done for him.
So we see that even though the people asked the Lord to leave them and he did as they wished, Jesus still left a witness for the people so that the message of the good news of the gospel would be proclaimed. And this man was a credible witness for the people all knew him and the bondage he had been in to the possession of the demons. Who better to preach freedom than one who had been so badly bound and enslaved.
So we should take heart that even when we are rejected it does not mean the Lord’s work will stall. Jesus will have his minister there to speak to the people, and it will be the best person for the job to get the message of the gospel through to those he is calling. As he said elsewhere, “…where I am, there shall my servant be also…” (John 12:26) So take heart if you have been speaking to someone and it felt like you have been wasting your words. The Lord will have his servant speak to the person in the right place at the right time, and it may not necessarily be you or me. You may have sown a seed but it may require another to build on that beginning and bring the seed to fruit.
(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com/)