This week’s text is Luke 8:26-39. This is the famous story of Jesus healing the man possessed by many demons and sending the demons into a herd of swine and running them into the lake to be drowned. This tale sees Jesus confronting what are claimed to be many demons inside of a man long possessed. When asked his name the possessed man said Legion, for many demons had entered him. It is clear by the response of the demons that they recognize Jesus, as they refer to him as “Son of the Most High God” (Verse 28). They as clearly recognize Jesus’ power as they are obviously afraid of him.
The other thing that strikes one immediately is that the community that surrounds this man has given up on ridding him of these demons. They keep him chained up and under constant guard. It is almost as if they are complicit in the possession of this man.
Demon, Demon Go Away
As always, Jesus finds people where their need is. He sees this man’s plight and responds without hesitation or fear. He even, or perhaps, especially, seeks to help the one who the rest of the community has forsaken. This is clearly pointing Jesus to assist the most marginalized among us. Jesus then heals the man, as if we had any doubt.
What is notable about this healing, in addition, to the marginal status of the man, is that the demon possessed man is clearly a Gentile. The text states that Jesus is on the side of the lake opposite Galilee. This is the area of the cities of the Decapolis, which is Gentile country. Also, the fact that the people there are keeping swine, indicates that this is not a Jewish community. So, we see again, that Jesus is reaching out beyond his Jewish roots to the wider world.
In reaching out to Gentiles, and healing them, Jesus is indicating that he has power over non-Jewish demons. Jesus is not bound by his Hebrew background. He has been sent to heal (save) the whole world. He further shows his power by placing the demons into swine (considered unclean by Jews) and driving them into a lake to drown. He puts the Gentile demon under the power of a Jewish prophet and so heals the man and rids this community of its affliction.
Can I Come Too?
At this point the people of this area were so afraid that they asked Jesus to leave. The healed (saved) man wants to come along too, but Jesus instructed him to stay among his people and declare how much God has done for him. This is a great example that Jesus calls different people to different tasks in response to his gift of salvation. The man obeys as a faithful follower of Jesus. Jesus likely knows that this man will be a far more effective proclaimer of the Good News among his own people than he would be among the Jews. It cannot be said that Jesus is a poor tactician.
In the end the story of the man dispossessed of demons is a classic tale of Jesus being here to help everyone, especially the marginalized and even the non-Jewish. This shows a Jesus in total command of his divine powers. Also, it shows a great example for a saved man who was healed because of his faith and then goes to work in the Kingdom. He believed, then he obeyed.
Praise Be to God