Jesus Power to Change Lives

Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:28–34)

This passage is a dramatic one that demonstrates His power and might over the demonic world. Spirits and evil powers are no match for Jesus. Last week we saw that the storms on the sea, the waves and the winds are under Jesus control and must obey His commands. The boat was in danger, the men were afraid and Jesus stopped the storm and immediately there was calmness on the sea.

So, like the miracle of calming the storm, this miracle is also meant to show the incomparable power of Jesus and to prove that He is the Son of God. God in the flesh. It can be frightening to be around powerful people, even just regular people, I mean people who are not supernaturally powerful like Jesus was. Just regular powerful people. This is so because we are not on, or id doesn’t seem like we are on equal footing with them. If you have played sports then you have probably had to go up against an opposing team member who had more skill more strength than you did. In the workplace, if you are not at the top of the corporation then there are those who are and those people have the power to fire you, to lay you off, to relocate you to cut your pay, to do things to you that seem out of your control and that is because in the structure of the organization they have the power.

In civil society, there are police and other law enforcement people who have power over us. There are politicians with power who can affect our lives in both good and bad ways. Children you have parents who have some power over you wives you have husbands who should be lovingly leading you but you are to submit to them and that is a type of power,

Sometimes bad people may have temporary power over us, like someone who may wish us harm, with a gun or a knife, someone who has an upper hand on us with evil intentions. This can certainly be a frightening experience.

Shear power can be frightening. Now, I want to just mention this now and I’ll talk about it more in a moment but power with love is awesome. In other words, if the One who has all power is also the One who loves you deeply and faithfully then we can rejoice in that person's power right?

But just shear power, can make us really uncomfortable and fearful for sure. This is one reason why the Bible so emphasizes to husbands that they are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, this is so that His leadership doesn’t look like just raw power but that power to lead is saturated in a God given Christ embodied deep faithful love for her so that the power he has been given by God overflows and is used to love her deeply.

So, when we see Jesus demonstrate unprecedented power in the miracles that He does, we can understand that some would embrace Him, especially those who benefited from the loving aspect of it and that there would be many on the sidelines, many witnesses who would reject Him, walk away. Maybe they were amazed yes, but also they don’t know what to do or how to think about such power, thinking maybe it is safe to just stay away.

We say the disciples pondered a question when Jesus quiets the storm on the raging sea. At that wondrous moment they asked this:

27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:26–27)

What sort of man is this? Many would wonder that, many still do. Is this a man to embrace or a man to stay away from? Am I better off to play it safe, to reject Him, to be my own person, my own boss or am I better off to be with Him to go to Him, to give myself to Him, to live for Him? Do I, can I trust Him, One who holds such power?

It is not really safer to reject Him it may only feel more risky. To embrace him is not to just put yourself at the mercy of His power it is also to put yourself in the center of His love. His power alone may feel unbearable but mixed and saturated with His love for you makes it a wonderful thing.

The people who heard of what Jesus did, the next miracle that he performs seemed to be unwilling to have Him near so rather than embrace Him as the God of all creation they chose instead to send Him away. And interesting and amazing event. Let’s look more closely at this account that occurred as Jesus reaches the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. (Matthew 8:28)

Ok, talk about frightening. This would be one of those times, perhaps. As they walked by two men were demon-possessed and these are the two that came out to meet them. Not sure if they had seen anyone else yet or if these were the first two they encountered but they were the ones who came out to meet them. It says they came out of the tombs, so this means out of a graveyard. In our passage theirs is not as much description of these man or one of them in particular and I want us to get some more of the detail about this man that may help us to see the dramatic nature of what is taking place here. So I’m going to go to Mark 5 and let you see more of this story from Mark’s more detailed account. This one man, demon possessed man was intense and had a major effect on his community, I think everyone would have known who this man was by the description I will read to you from Mark. Here is Marks account:

Mark 5:1

5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him.( he was a terror to this community) 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. 14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:1–20)

This man, this demon possessed man was in torment, he lived in torment. Cutting himself with stones, not in his right mind, crying out night and day. What an awful existence, what a terrible thing for the towns people to see and witness. He had supernatural strength and could not be contained.

This was the man that came out to meet Jesus. I opened by talking about Jesus unmatched power. Well this man, as far as a man goes, was the most powerful apparently in this community being possessed by demons. He was so fierce that no one could pass this way. Well Jesus did.

This man cries out to Jesus and says:

29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29)

The demon possessed man recognized Jesus, Satan knows Jesus. The man also was aware of the power of Jesus. He was also aware that there will be a time where they will all be cast out of our world forever and that time was not now.

There is a great deal of speculation about this passage and much of it is around things like, does a demon have to have live body to exist or how much demons know or even what sort of powers can a demon have over a person. I’m not going to get into all the many possibilities regarding demons but will just stick with what we do know. We know that they are powerful, giving this man an ability to crush shackles and break chains.

Here is more dialogue and Jesus response:

30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. Matthew 8:30-32)

That must have been a sight to see. The herdsmen then respond:

33 The herdsmen fled (Matthew 8:33)

Interesting. They took off, they ran away. They might have thought they were in big trouble. Their job was to care for and protect the herd and look what just happened. It was not like wild animal got two or three or one got sick, no, the whole herd that had been entrusted to them just went off a cliff and drowned! How were they going to explain that! The ran to tell their side of the story.

33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. (Matthew 8:33)

There story included the part about the demon possessed man that is understandable. That too was dramatic and helped to explain what happened to the pigs they were responsible for. But what I want us to get to mostly is the response of the townspeople.

34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:34)

This to me is the most fascinating and sad part of this account. Jesus had just established before these witnesses his power and his compassion. I understand that the economics of it all would have been potentially devastating to some who relied on the pigs for their economic survival, I can understand the hardship that some would face, and yes that would be hard. But what about the compassion that Jesus showed toward this man who was tormented day and night and even tormented others by his fierce behavior?

What about how Jesus had given this man’s life back to him. What about that Jesus has released him from these many demons? How about that this man now had his mind back and could function as a real human being now? Where is the rejoicing that could have been for him?

Did they not care?

Were they perhaps too caught up in their own things that they could not even be happy with this man and thankful to the one who restored him to life?

Did they care about this man. They didn’t; seem to be.

But as bad as that is, that they cannot just rejoice with this man there is something worse

They rejected Jesus.

Why? We don’t exactly know. Maybe they were mad over their economic hardship. Maybe they were afraid of the power that He demonstrated. Maybe they were fine with their lives and didn’t want Jesus to change them or their ways. Maybe they love their sin and didn’t want to stop it. Maybe they felt guilt over their sins, and were afraid of what Jesus might require of them. There are about a million reasons why they or anyone else may reject Jesus and not want to live for Him but the only reason that matters is the one that you use to reject Him. What keeps you from coming to Jesus and living for life for Him? You think you're a good enough person and God will favor you on your own merit? You are afraid of Him and what He will require of you? You have fooled yourself into thinking He doesn’t even exist? What keeps you from coming to Him? What if you are wrong?

Jesus said,

“of all that come to Him He will not cast out.”

Will you come to Him?

This story is real, He restored this man, He cast out those demons that terrorized Him. He changed this man's life. He can change yours too. Jesus is in the business of changing lives, restoring what is broken and saving for all eternity.

Remember what Jesus did on this day and do what this crowd refused to do and receive Him.

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:28–34)