16 – Christ’s Strength
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
- Gerasenes: People who lived in a village on the Eastern shore of Lake Galilee
- Shackles: Metal rings connected by a chain fastened to wrists and, or, ankles
- Adjure: Command earnestly and solemnly
- Legion: A great crowd
Do you think that there are some people God is not able to save?
Why do you think people want Jesus to go away at the end of the story?
Try to imagine for a minute that you live during the first century in a small village in the Middle East. One day you look up into the distance and see a man walking towards you. Your heart begins to beat faster, and you begin to be afraid because you know this man – he is famous, but not for a good reason. This is the wild man who calls himself ‘Legion’ because he is under the control of so many unclean spirits. He is totally unruly, he lives in a cemetery, he is so strong that he can break his chains, he runs around without wearing any clothes and he often hurts himself. But, as he gets nearer, you realise that there is something different about him. He doesn’t behave like he used to. He isn’t running around shouting. He is even wearing clothes! He looks, well, normal!
When the man reaches you, he greets you courteously, and begins to explain with a big grin that something amazing has happened to him. The day before, he met a man called Jesus of Nazareth. Although no-one before had succeeded in controlling or helping him, a word from Jesus was enough to make all the unclean spirits, who had plagued him for so long, leave him.
Now imagine how you would respond to this man’s story. Considering the amazing change which happened in his life, would you be happy or sad for him?
Considering the authority of Jesus, and how much he did for this man, do you think he is able to help you?
Jesus wanted the man to tell his story to his people. What is the significance of this for us?
that the work of God in your life will be as striking as it was in the life of Legion.