The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac (Luke 8:26-39)

The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac

26 Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

27 When he came ashore a man from the town who was possessed by demons met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes; he did not live in a house, but lived among the tombs.

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!”

29 For he had ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (It had taken hold of him many times, and he used to be bound with chains and shackles as a restraint, but he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into deserted places.)

30 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

31 And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss.

32 A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them.

33 The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside.

35 People came out to see what had happened and, when they approached Jesus, they discovered the man from whom the demons had come out sitting at his feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear.

36 Those who witnessed it told them how the possessed man had been saved.

37 The entire population of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them because they were seized with great fear. So he got into a boat and returned.

38 The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him, but he sent him away, saying,

39 “Return home and recount what God has done for you.” The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

Spiritual – Jesus Exerts His Power Over the Demons

As noted previously, in these stories Jesus is demonstrating His power over creation, His power over the demonic realm, His power over illness, and His power over life and death.  In this pericope Jesus casts out many demons who had all taken possession of one man.  In so doing, he demonstrates absolute power over the demonic realm.  The demon’s testimony even tells us that Jesus has the power to cast them into the abyss.  (He doesn’t do that yet, because the time has not yet come.)

Spiritual – If You Ask Jesus to Leave, He Will Go

If we look at the overall arc of this story we see that it begins in the previous perciope when Jesus says: “Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” (Lk 8:22)  Why did Jesus decide to cross the lake?  Although scripture doesn’t explicitly give us the reason, I’m betting that Jesus wasn’t just looking for a pleasure cruise.  In my mind, He was going to continue his mission of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching about the Kingdom of God.  However, we see that the overall arc of this story ends with “the entire population of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them.  So he got into a boat and returned” to Galilee.

In a similar, yet spiritual way, Jesus might come in power to any one of us – and if we ask Him to leave He will.  Jesus invites us into relationship with Him, but he doesn’t force us into a relationship.  This people’s reaction to Christ should make us take notice.   There is no arguing that he has done something great for the man possessed by demons.  And this man then becomes a witness for Christ.  But if we look Christ’s actions symbolically we might notice that the good he has done does come at a price.  A large number of swine died – that was someone’s livestock, part of their livelihood.  The swinhearders are out of a job.  For the people of the region, Jesus comes in power, and performs a great act, but it comes at a price.  Moreover, they were seized with great fear and even though Jesus may have done them much good, they asked Him to leave.

When Jesus comes to us, He will ask us to change.  That might fill us with fear and it may cause us some cost.  We must be on our guard then, to not count the cost and to let our faith replace our fear so that we can invite him into our lives where He can exert His power for our good.

Remember; draw near to God and he will draw near to you (see James 4:8).

What is the territory of the Gerasenes?

The people that Jesus is visiting are clearly not Jewish.  For one thing, you won’t find swine herds in Jewish populations. Additionally, the region across the lake from Galilee was the Decapolis – Greek for Ten Cities.  Jesus is sailing to a gentile population in the region … perhaps to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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