Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39 (ESV)
We don’t hear much about demon possession today, although we learn in Scripture that there are powers and principalities that work against us, as well as our own sinfulness and the age old fallen human desire to make ourselves our own god. We have a similarity with the demon possessed man- we are in bondage to sin, whether or not it is markedly visible to the world. We are separated from God because of our sin.
The demon possessed man didn’t ask for Jesus’ help to be set free. The man was so far into bondage to the legion of demons that he couldn’t ask for help if he wanted to. Jesus came to him. This is how the Kingdom of God comes to us. Jesus came to earth as a flesh and blood man to reach into the world, to reach out to us with the gifts of faith, repentance, forgiveness and redemption.
The possessed man didn’t earn or deserve to be set free of the demons. Jesus saving him from that possession had nothing to do with the man- and everything to do with Jesus.
By His grace, Jesus sets us free from those things that would keep us from Him. He forgives our sins. He gives us the grace to love others, to serve others, to live in a way in which we can say to others, “See what God has done!” In Christ, our sins are forgiven- and the old Adam is sent to drown in the abyss, like the possessed horde of pigs.
It is indeed good news that Jesus comes to us in our need, in our helplessness and in our utter inability to save ourselves. May we have faith in Christ alone, and fall upon His mercy and grace.