Thoughts on the Gospel: (Luke 8:26-39) The Gerasene Demoniac
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times 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 wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they 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. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave 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.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
The human effort to deal with the man’s insanity and energumens and evil for that matter was to try to chain and shackle the mad man, to keep him under guard – in other words to arrest, incarcerate, and physically constrain him. These efforts had no positive results as the demoniac was always able to escape from his guards.
But the demons could not flee from the presence of Christ, they themselves were constrained by Him and could do only what he gave them permission to do. When Christ appears it is not the madman who fled the human effort to control him, but the demons who fled the presence of Christ – and they did so no longer possessing a human but by spooking a herd of pigs.
Jesus is able to speak with the demons – either they understand His language, or He speaks theirs. The communications is very clear for all sides understand each others.
Jesus does not restrain or constrain the demoniac in any way; rather Jesus frees the man from his enslavement to demons and to the chains of men. Jesus uses no violence on the demoniac, or on the demons for that matter – He gives the demons permission to leave as they are requesting. Jesus does nothing to punish the man who allowed the demons into his life. Jesus inflicts no pain on the possessed man but restores the man to sanity, to his right mind.
The swineherds tell the story of what happened – they witness to the miracle and power of Christ, but their witnessing does not bring the Gospel to the townspeople, just to the contrary, the people demand that Christ leave their territory. They bound the possessed man but they expel Christ. The possessed man runs away from them, but they send Christ away.
The people of the territory were afraid when they saw the madman in his right mind. That the man was now calm and sane causes the people to ask Jesus to depart from their land. Was it xenophobia? Were they afraid of this stranger and his strange power? Or were they afraid of sanity – better the demons that they knew rather than the power which gives sanity which they did not know.
They do not ask for any more miracles or demonstrations of power. They do not thank Jesus for restoring sanity to the possessed man. Are they afraid of the price of the Kingdom of God? The cost for having the kingdom come to them was the loss of an entire herd of swine, which no doubt represented a small fortune. This was economic devastation for some of them. And it brought no joy to these people to have the Messiah come to them. They give Jesus no chance to teach or preach, but rather want him to depart.
Though the cured man has become a follower of Christ, Christ does not permit him to travel with Him, but rather sends the cured man back home. It is back home, where people did not want Christ to stay, that Christ tells the man to follow Him. Back home he is to declare what God has done for him, though the people’s reaction to the swineherds’ testimony was one of fear and rejection. Following Christ did not mean leaving behind the people who did not believe in Him, but rather it meant staying with the people who wanted Christ to depart from their midst.