Luke 8:26-39 New Living Translation (NLT)
So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town.
As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.
Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.
There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.
So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.
When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.
So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.
When I looked at this scripture, my mind went back to a series that I preached while we were in Martinsville, VA. I would say that it was one of my more successful series that I preached while there. It was based on the CD that Casting Crowns released called “Lifesong.” I preached a series of messages taken from the titles of the songs on the CD. Most of the messages included the song. I still remember the reaction I got from this message. This series was before the recession of 2008, but Martinsville experienced it early. Many of the furniture factories and fabric mills had already moved further south or overseas. People were used to dropping out of high school and getting a great paying job…but when the factories moved…they didn’t take the employees with them for the most part. This left people hopeless. It left people with a great distrust of authority…including preachers. Many turned to alcohol and drugs…this was long before the current opioid crisis.
Not only did this effect older people, but it affected teens and pre-teens. Our ministry in Martinsville was a unique one. We had two churches – our Sunday church and our Wednesday night church. While we were there, bus ministry was still a thing, so we would go pick up kids for church, have a time of musical worship, send them to their classes and then finish with a hot meal. Many of our students would not receive a hot meal, except for school. The students came from all sorts of situations.
As you can see, this would leave many people feeling trapped. In many ways our current ministry is in a similar situation. Many like to talk about the urban poor, but not many like to talk about the rural poor. Here in rural McKean County, the opioid crisis is real. It is real in the neighboring counties in both PA and NY. People are looking for ways to break the chains, but they find themselves trapped – whether it be sex, porn, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.
I this week’s passage, Jesus is confronted with a man called Legion – a man trapped with 1,000’s of demons. While he can physically break any chain, he is trapped. How this man ended up demon-possessed we don’t know. We do know that he came to Jesus for help and the demons were afraid. Let’s face it, demons know who Jesus is.
Jesus doesn’t need many words to cast out the demons – after all everything is under his authority. Jesus puts the demons out into a herd of pigs and they throw themselves over a cliff.
What demons do you feel trapped by? It could be any number of things…it could be one of the things that I listed above. Jesus is the one that can set you free. That is His desire, if only we ask in faith.