People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.
So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.
Jesus had set free a man oppressed by evil spirits. The spirits were called Legion (the term for a Roman military division) and were cast out into a herd of pigs, where ‘pigs’ was a common term used of the Roman occupying forces. The pigs drowned and the evil spirits were destroyed. A man who was once occupied was restored to his right mind and made whole. In the same way, Israel hoped to be delivered of their Roman occupying force and were waiting be restored and made whole again under the kingship of the Messiah.
Were the people in that region happy that Jesus had done this? No. Luke tells us that they were afraid. You see, they understood the symbolism full well. They were afraid of confrontation with the brutal and powerful Romans. Jesus had performed a symbolic battle with the Romans and the local people didn’t want to be involved.
Yet, despite the powerful imagery, Jesus hadn’t just come for a nation but for individuals. In this story a man’s life was turned around. He was set free and restored. No wonder he wanted to stick with Jesus. But Jesus told him to go home and continue with his life.
The faith lesson from this story is how encountering Jesus changes a life. It’s not religious knowledge, understanding of Christian doctrine, or adherence to a moral code that sets us free. It’s Jesus.
Today, ask for the transforming presence of Jesus in your life.
Let me meet Jesus again today.
May he, by his Spirit, come into my life;
to redeem, restore and renew me;
to set me free from that which binds me;
and to help me be the person I was created to be.
This day and for ever.
What things in our culture can, if left unchecked, drive us to destruction?
How can we be people that help others meet Jesus?