On Sunday we heard about Jesus leading His disciples to a region called the Gerasenes and restoring a demon-possessed man (Luke 8:26-39). It’s a story that can startle us, especially if we tend to gravitate towards stories that display Jesus’ power over nature. This miracle, however, reminds us of Jesus’ power over death, sin and the enemy. It’s a story that points directly to what He would later do on the cross.
Here are three things of which this passage reminds us:
1. We have an enemy.
Many of us cautiously ascribe the sin and brokenness of our world to the ambiguous concept of “evil.” The Scriptures, however, are quite clear that we have an enemy who is set on stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10), and who seeks to attack us as a lion devours its prey (1 Peter 5:8).
We may become over-preoccupied with Satan’s schemes or dismissive of the unseen reality in which we live. But when we look at the demon-possessed man’s life, we cannot deny that the patterns of isolation, pain, self-degradation and anger still plague our society today.
2. Christ is infinitely more powerful.
In this story, Jesus is not the demons’ opponent. There is no competition. They are not pegged against one another. The demon-possessed man falls at Jesus’ feet and the spirits that have been tormenting him beg for mercy because they are subject to the incomparable power of Christ.
We know this because Jesus defeated the power of sin and death on the cross. Just as He loved this man and drove out the demons at the expense of a nearby herd of pigs, He willingly took on our spiritual darkness at the expense of His own life. He was nailed to a cross and buried in a tomb and rose again three days later, all so we could be freed from our sin.
3. He calls us to the other side of the lake.
The healed man was completely transformed. The account in Mark 5 tells us that after the miracle occurred, he was sitting there, dressed and in his right mind and that he went on to share about Jesus in his entire region. All of this was possible because Jesus led the disciples to a place “on the other side of the lake” where they would otherwise never have gone.
To what place is Christ calling you to follow Him? Our faithfulness might only benefit one person, like the demon-possessed man. It might be met with confusion and disapproval, as the surrounding crowd displayed. But as followers of Christ, this invitation is the opportunity to see people move from death to life, isolation to community, shame to restored dignity.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”