|King James Version
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought [him] that he would depart out of their coasts.
|New International Version
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
29 "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.
31 The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."
32 He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.
33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
This passage demonstrates Jesus interacting within four distinct realms. First He interacts with the lost demon possessed men. Then He interacts with the demons themselves. Being Lord of heaven and earth He involves himself with the animalsthe pigswhich He sends into the sea to drown. Finally, he interacts with the people of the surrounding community.
We see that Jesus' primary concern in this encounter is the health and well being of the demonized men. This is always His heartthe restoration of men and women who are captive to the devil.
As he encounters the men, the demons cry out. He casts them, at their request, into the swine. We learn something peripheral here: demons possess animals as well as humans. Although we do not know a lot about demon possession, we understand that it is a reality. Somehow demons are able to work their way into a fleshly bodytheir natural state is referred to as "disembodied." They are disembodied spirits. Possessing flesh is the only way they ever have of experiencing existence in a body. Presumably at the death of the human or animal, they find themselves again disembodied and apparently that is not their preference. At any rate, Jesus allows them to go into the pigs, the pigs die, and we assume they are returned to whatever infernal region they came from.
In the mean time, the men are delivered from their terrible condition. The Gospel of Mark recalls this event, focusing on the fate of one of the men. He says the man had been bound with fetters, but no chain could hold him and no man could tame him. He stayed in the mountains and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones...
This is a terrible condition indeed. When I held a Bible study among inmates of the Idaho State Youth Training Center twenty years ago, I remember regularly seeing the young men and women with scars on their arms and bodies. The referred to cutting themselves in this way as "marking" themselves. It is an expression of self-loathing.
Years ago I wrote a poem about this unfortunate condition. I set it to music and it was recorded by my friend Dick Williams. Although I do not remember it in its entirety, I remember a few lines. It started out this way:
Who knows what goes through the mind of a man,
Who lives 'mid the rocks and the rubble,
The sights and sounds, and terrors come down,
From the tombs and the times, and the trouble.
With cries and with moans,
He cuts himself with stones,
And plucks all the chains assunder . . .
Jesus' heart moved with compassion as He saw the condition of the man. And when the demons saw Him they knew their time was at hand. They expressed great fear saying, "Have you come to torment us before the appointed time?"
After the man was delivered, the townspeople came out to see this man. Mark tells us the man was "fully clothed and in his right mind." But that was not as important to the people as the loss of their pigs. Hence, they immediately invited Jesus to leave.
There is a lesson in this for us. We need to see the lost and dying world the way Jesus does. We need to pray to have the compassion he does. Another line from my poem read:
On a cold tile floor,
Behind a locked door,
Another man makes marks on his body. . .
It is this man for whom we need to be concerned. The men and women in our neighborhoods, in our car pools, in our work places.
Evangelism is costly. As we partner with God in bring the Gospel to a lost and dying world, we will pay a price. It normally will not be measured in pigs or pork bellies. But it will cost us time and effort and inconvenience. But what a privilege it is to see the resurrection of Jesus in the lives of those around us. To see broken people fully clothed and in their right minds.