Monday, October 10, 2016

10 October 2016
Luke 8:26-39

Good afternoon, welcome. In today’s story Luke gives two contrasting responses to Jesus’ demonstration of power and authority.

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” (vs.26-28)
The incident takes place in Gentile territory. The demons had evidently inhabited the man for some time. They recognize Jesus immediately and beg not to be sent back to the abyss. That Jesus asks their name reflects an ancient belief that there is power in the knowing and is reminiscent of Jacob’s struggle with the Lord. It is probably intended to demonstrate Jesus’ total dominance; I’m pretty sure He already knew who He was dealing with. The number of demons involved is inconsequential; Jesus has complete authority. They have no choice but to obey.

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. (Vs.32-33)
There is some irony here, in that the demons thought they would be saved by the herd. They may have been expecting mercy but they received none-back to the abyss they went. The man, on the other hand, has now become totally transformed; he goes from naked in the tombs to sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind (v.35).

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. (Vs.36-37)
Contrast this with the Capernaum response, where the entire town turned up at the doorstep of Simon’s mother in-law to be healed. Weighing the healing of one demon-possessed man against the economic loss of an entire herd, local people ask Jesus to leave. Jesus’ power and authority may extend to the Gentiles; His welcome does not. At least not here. Later on in Acts Luke will relate how economic loss created problems for Paul as well.

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. (Vs.38-39)
 The man, having been completely restored, responds with faithful obedience. Although he would rather stay with Jesus; at the Lord’s instruction he returns to the city and proclaimed what Jesus has done. Here Luke presents a picture of our redemption and restoration. The man is redeemed from life among the dead, restored to wholeness, commissioned to service and sent to testify, which he does.
Jesus’ presence will make some people uncomfortable and He will not stay where He is not wanted. 

Perhaps this is the lesson for us as well. A Gospel that compromises itself to achieve anything other than our redemption and restoration will probably be welcomed in places where Jesus Himself will not. In this story neither the swine nor the demons had any choice; the locals, however, did. As do we. Jesus did not force Himself on an unwilling populace and He does not call us to do so. We hear the same words He spoke to the demon-possessed man: go and declare how much God has done for you. Nothing declares how much God has done for us like the testimony of a transformed life; nothing demonstrates a transformed life like faith made effective through love (Gal.5:6).  

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day. JRG

No comments:

Post a Comment