37 – Cast Out Legion
Where: Gergesa, Decapolis
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After the storm, Jesus decided to stay the night where they were, while the men reorganized the boat, ate and rested. So they anchored the boat just north of the town of Gergesa. They were directly east across the lake from Magdala and, in the light of the sunset, Jesus came ashore.
As he did, two men, one of whom was naked, came running straight at Jesus, yelling at the top of their voices. The first one stopped, but the naked one kept coming. They lived in the cliff-side caves, that were so often used as tombs, and they ran crazy through the hills. The locals had tried often to keep the naked one “decent” by putting clothes on him, but he ripped them off. He never bathed and his hair was long and wild. He ran straight to Jesus calling him ‘Lord’ and “Son of God”, and he fell down at Jesus’ feet in the position of a servant before his master.
Jesus did not want his disciples confused. Jesus was NOT the leader of evil spirits, the lord of demons, the son of Satan. So Jesus ordered the evil spirit to leave the man. The demon assumed that Jesus was sending him into the Abyss [where all evil spirits would go on judgment day: a place of torment: Hell], and knowing that he must obey the Son of God (but not wanting to go to the Abyss yet), he tried to negotiate a better deal. Quickly he begged Jesus to send “them” into the huge herd of pigs grazing on the steep slope in the evening light.
Jesus was open to the suggestion and asked the demon its name. It answered “Legion” (“there are hundreds of us”). ‘We are very strong, just like the Roman legion X Fretensis [made up of 6000 troops] that controlled the area and whose banner flag bares the symbol of a wild pig. Jesus saw the humor in the situation. Send a bunch of unclean spirits to invade a bunch of unclean animals, in an unclean land, and ruled by an unclean people. Jesus smiled and agreed. ‘Enter the pigs, it’s a fitting place for you’.
But when the legion of demons entered the huge herd of pigs, it drove even those unclean animals MAD. In great fear they stampeded down the slope and into the lake. They drowned in the evil lake and thereby the demons went into the Abyss anyway. Jesus laughed out loud.
The man had settled down immediately (what a terrible burden he had endured). He was given something to wear, and fed, and spent the night near Jesus learning the truth. He gave his life over to Jesus and wanted to become a follower. But Jesus had a special mission for him. He was to go back to his city of Gergesa. From there he should go throughout the region of the Decapolis telling everyone about the Hebrew god, and how, through Jesus, God had helped him.
The Gentiles of the area could expect no mercy from the Messiah of Israel. They could expect only to be conquered. So in the morning, when the townspeople arrived and concluded that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel they were terrified at the prospect. So they begged Jesus to leave.
They did not understand that Jesus, as The Messiah, would be merciful to Gentiles. They should have remembered that it was only five miles away, at Aphek, that King Ahab of Israel defeated and captured the enemy of Israel, Ben-hadad, the king of Aram [Syria]. Ben-hadad had no reason to expect anything but death. Yet he took a chance…and received mercy. It would be up the freed man to help the Gentiles understand this.
So Jesus and the disciples got on the boat and sailed north for the village of Bethsaida.
No questions have been asked yet.