“Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country.  People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man, from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus’ feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.” Luke 8:34-36.

What a holy moment!

These were Gentiles, people who lived in a region of ten Greek towns on the east side of the lake of Galilee; pagan people who dabbled with demons and who were probably used to seeing demon-possessed people. But this man had been particularly bad, so tormented and demented that he could not live among them. He had taken up residence among dead people who could not possibly be affected by his crazed behaviour.

They had seen the effects of demons entering people but they had never seen the outcome of demons leaving! No doubt they rushed to the edge of the cliff to see what had happened to the pigs. There they were, floating in the lake, all three thousands of them, exactly as the townspeople had reported!  Some of the spectators must have been owners of the pigs. There was their livelihood, floating in the lake! They could not have been too pleased.

Others were dumbstruck by the man who was so transformed that they hardly recognised him. He was clothed and sane, sitting with Jesus, adoring Him and deep in conversation with Him. They could only stand and stare, and wonder that this man was the one who had authority over the evil spirits they both worshipped and feared.

“Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave – too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. The man whom He had delivered from the demons asked to go with Him, but He sent him back, saying, ‘Go home and tell everything God did in you.’ So he went back home and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him.” Luke 8:37-39.

It did not take long for the word to spread throughout the whole region. People came running from far and near and congregated to discuss this shocking and frightening event. If this man could do this, what else could He do, and what else would He do? Many of them had already suffered huge financial loss. Had He come to destroy them? They did not understand what this was all about.

No doubt the loss of the pigs overshadowed the man’s release from the tormented life he had lived for so long. Perhaps they were even hostile towards him because they blamed him for their financial catastrophe. Could he have wanted to follow Jesus to escape their hostility as well as because of his gratitude to Jesus? We don’t know.

In Jewish territory, Jesus instructed people who had been healed not to broadcast it because He did not want to be swamped by popularity with people who were out to get something from Him. Here, however, there was no danger of that. These Gentile people needed to be confronted with the truth about the one true God who had power over the demons who were all too real to them.

Jesus gave this man a commission – to tell his story wherever he went, and that was easy for him to do. He was a living witness to the truth of what he was telling. On a later occasion, when Jesus returned to the region, He was well received because the ex-demon-possessed man had done his job and the people not only recognised Him, they also brought a blind man to Him.

The news was out. Jesus cared about Gentiles too. He cares for you!

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Luella Campbell

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