They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man– and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
1. Do you feel like you (or your circumstances) are beyond help? Are the things you’re looking to for help only binding you more?
Jesus helps the unhelpable. The community had tried to help this man and had failed. They’d tried to bind him, restrain him, keep him from wildly wreaking havoc in their area. Do you catch the irony? They’d tried to chain him, but couldn’t. The demons had already chained him and had rule within him.
Jesus’ help is the help of freedom. True, life-giving help. Help that is beyond our means, our attaining by our own goodness or strength.
2. Am I amazed by Jesus’ power? The community was terrified to find that man in his right mind again, dressed and calm. Jesus astounds us with his power and compassion. And if you aren’t tuned in to his true identity, such power and compassion are causes for fear. Amazement and fear can be similar, can overlap. When we are in that place of surprise or shock–if that doesn’t springboard us to worship, we can fall prey to fear.
3. Am I recognizing Jesus for who He is? Do I know him? This passage is so perfectly placed after the passage of the disciples fearful on the lake in the storm. They failed to recognize Jesus’ lordship (remember, Jesus asked, “Do you still have no faith?”). The demons recognize Jesus’ lordship. They fear his authority over them. Before Jesus reaches this man, the man is running, recognizing the Savior, pleading with Jesus. And in minutes, this man goes from not knowing Jesus to knowing him.
Watching Jesus is not the same as knowing him. Being with him is not the same as knowing him. The disciples were afraid of Jesus in the previous passage and they’d been following him. The community is afraid of Jesus and they’d witnessed a miracle.
4. Am I telling my story?
You might think you don’t have a story to tell. But you do. We all do. Oftentimes we want to go places and do things that others are called to do–because it looks fun, seems more important. But God calls us to stay where we are and testify of his work in our lives. It’s that simple. Let what God has done for you and in you be your witness.
For your worship and celebration: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)