Jesus crosses the lake and is confronted by a demon-possessed man. This powerful story is also rich in symbolism – for example, the multiple demons use the word ‘Legion’, the name used for a Roman Army division. The Jewish nation was occupied by the Romans. Could this be a coincidence?
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.
Jesus headed from the east coast of the lake to the western shore – to an area known as the Gerasenes. It was a largely Gentile (non Jewish) area and when he got there he was immediately confronted by a demoniac – someone oppressed by an evil spirit.
Now, when Jesus asked the demon his name, what was it? Legion. Legion didn’t just mean ‘lots’. A Legion was a Roman word meaning a military division comprised of thousands of Roman soldiers. There were lots of words for ‘many’ in the language, but the demon used the word Legion. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
The Jewish people were oppressed – sort of in slavery – by the Romans, and they were undergoing a brutal Roman occupation. Imagine if another country invaded your country and told you how you should live, how you should behave, and how you should worship. Well, that’s what it was like in Israel at that time. And the Jewish people were hoping and expecting someone to set them free. This person would be God’s ‘anointed one’ and the word for ‘anointed one’ is Messiah or Christ. This person would overthrow the Romans.
Somehow, Luke wants us to know that this story is operating on two levels – on a practical level it’s the story of a man bound by an evil Spiritual enemy, but also at a wider level, it’s a story about a nation enslaved by an evil empire.
All sorts of things can oppress and influence us in a negative way, for example, people, situations, possessions, things we consume, or our own thoughts and actions. Naming them or admitting them can be the first step to allowing Jesus to deal with them.
In the same way that Jesus asked the demons to name themselves, today, name the things in your life that you’d like Jesus to deal with.
I lift to you those things that oppress me;
destructive thoughts, words and actions.
I give you those things that drive a wedge in my relationships
with myself, others, you, and the world around me.
I know that in my own strength I’m unable to defeat them,
and admit that I need your presence in my life.
Come, Lord Jesus.
This day and forever.
What do you think the demons ultimately hoped to achieve?