26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 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 a cemetery outside the town.
28 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!” 29 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.
30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.
32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs.
So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 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. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed.37 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. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “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.
Luke follows closely Mark’s account of Jesus’ encounter with the man oppressed by many demons. But he does make a couple of interesting changes that are worth paying attention to.
1. The man was naked. Mark doesn’t tell us this until the end. He tells us the man was seated and clothed and then mentions that clothed was new for this guy. Luke moves this bit of info to the front of the narrative. It gives a clearer picture of what happened. Naked guy runs up to Jesus and starts yelling.
2.The people were afraid. Mark makes a bigger deal of the pigs and it seems like the people are perhaps more upset about the loss of bacon than anything. Luke really downplays this. The people were afraid because Jesus has worked an immediate transformation on a guy they all knew about. Funny that his naked, screaming and breaking chains didn’t scare them as much as him at peace in the lotus position.
I love that this story follows the calming of the storm from yesterday. The storms inside us can be as violent as any hurricane. We who are emotionally naked and out of control and at the mercy of our demons and the storms that rage within – Jesus offer us calm. Peace. Serenity. And he transforms us so completely that we become the agents of his powerful calm. This man remained in his region, telling people about Jesus, healing the sick, and casting out demons. The one once possessed became the exorcist.
And so it is with us. We can be the agents of Jesus’ peace. Luke works to make this story even more real, even more focused on the real in-breaking of God’s power into the man’s life. That same power can calm your storms. That same power can empower you to calm the storms of others. The only thing better than being calm, clothed, and in your right mind is getting up from there and taking that peace to others desperate for it.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.