“On Your Mark”
Deliverance from Evil (Chapter 5 Verses 1-20)
On disembarking in the Gadarenes (vv1-2), Jesus is confronted with a man having an evil spirit. This is probably the first time the person confronted did not flee from the presence of other folk. Such was the condition of this poor man. No one could cope with his strength which was of a supernatural nature (v3-4), human power was unable to control it. Just as society itself today is unable to deal with the presence of evil that permeates it. No human resource, whether politics, education, or psychology, nor all the social services put together can remove it. One greater, stronger than the strong man (Luke 11.21-22) must overpower him first. Never forget, evil is personal and real (Luke 4.1-13). And so very destructive (v5). Knowing who Jesus is (vv6-8) it is surprising the demon does not compel the man to run away, in fact the opposite. Why? Because the will of the Lord Jesus is more powerful. In Jesus there is power not only to control the elements, but over the forces of evil and darkness (1John 4.4). When the Lord begins to draw a person to himself, there is nothing that will stop him (John 6.37). In him you have nothing to fear. These demons, Legion (v9), that is about 6000 demons in one man, that surely is some evil power. They, the demons, not only know who Jesus is, but know only too well what his arrival means for them (1John 3.8), their time is running out (Revelation 12.12).
The request to be sent into the pigs (vv10-12), must be seen as an act of judgment, chastisement on the Jewish population here. Why were these Jews dealing in pigs? This is east of Jordan but still Jewish territory, and remember Jesus confines himself to his own people (Matthew 15.24). Why do they want to go into the swine? We don’t know. Is it because they have an affinity with the unclean pigs, being themselves morally and spiritually unclean? What happened to them after the pigs were drowned, did they end up in the dreaded abyss (Luke 8.31)? Evil is never rational. There can be an unhealthy preoccupation with the world of evil. Yes, we must be aware of Satan’s wiles (2Corinthians 2.11), but much better, much healthier, is to study Christ. What do you think of Jesus (Matthew 22.42)? About his unique person? It was in being engrossed with this victorious person, the Lord, his presence being amongst them, that enabled the early Church to turn a world, permeated with the same evil as now, upside down. Is his presence amongst us today (Exodus 33.15)?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)