Jesus, please leave us alone!
Scripture reading for January 9th: Matthew 8, Psalm 7:1-9, Proverbs 2:12-15
Jesus left a fruitful place of ministry in Capernaum at Peter’s house where he healed many sick and cast out numerous demons. The Holy Spirit led Him to cross the Sea of Galilee to a region known as Gadarenes. This was Gentile territory and the people there raised lots of pigs. But it wasn’t for the pigs that Jesus would go there!
As Jesus and the disciples crossed the water, a severe storm threatened to capsize their boat. Even the experienced fishermen among the group were frantic and woke Jesus from his sleep in the bow of the boat. Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm and a great calm settled over the sea. He also rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. (Matthew 8:24-27) They were amazed at His authority and wondered who He really was.
Upon arrival, the disciples and Jesus were greeted by two men who were demon possessed. These men came out of a cemetery and spoke directly to Jesus, addressing Him as the “Son of God”. It is interesting to note that the demons knew Jesus as the “Son of God” when the disciples were still wondering! These evil spirits also knew that Jesus had authority over them and begged Him to send them into a large herd of pigs nearby. Jesus did not dialogue with these spirits, but simply said, “Go!” As they entered the pigs, the pigs rushed headlong over a steep bank into the sea and all were drowned.(Matthew 8:32)
Mark told the story in a slightly different manner that gave more detail than Matthew. Mark told of one man who was called “Legion” because of the many demons in him. Mark also numbered the pigs, saying that there were nearly 2000 in that herd! As Jesus was leaving, the man who was delivered begged to follow Jesus in his boat, but Jesus sent him back to share with his family and the region what God had done for him. (Mark 5:11-20)
The saddest part of this story is the people of that town’s reaction to these men’s deliverance. They came to Jesus and begged Him to leave their region! (Matthew 8:34) The loss of their pigs was more important than the freedom of two souls from the devil’s grasp! As you think about this story, what emotions do you feel for the various characters represented?