Hollywood has given us quite a few images of demons and the people who pursue them. Sometimes the movies and television shows portray angels vs. demons. Sometimes the story is humanity vs. demons. I’ve even seen Frankenstein vs. demons.
Usually when the story revolves around humanity vs. demons, the way to dispatch the demons is to use some sort of relic or religious artifact. You know, those demons don’t do well when they are sprinkled with holy water, or we put an image of a cross on a sword. Something like that.
But all of these stories we have in our world today are not remotely biblical. The New Testament takes demons for granted but does not describe their origin or nature. They are sometimes the source of mental and physical illnesses (but not always the source of these problems). Still, while we never get a description of what the demons (biblically called unclean spirits) LOOK like, we do see multiple encounters between Jesus and demons. The exorcism stories in the Bible can be downright frightening, too!
And that brings us to the word of the day: Demon Hunter
It’s time for church…
At the end of this digital church service there’s a place for comments. We’d love to hear from you. What did you take away from the service? What spoke to you? What do you have questions about? How can we do better to serve you and your friends and family? Thx!
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.
Yeah, this starts out JUST like a Hollywood horror movie. The demon-possessed dude even has tattered clothes and breaks his chains and shackles. And here he bum-rushes Jesus, yelling and having a fit. In the ancient world, tombs were the primary hangouts of demons (after all, unclean spirits live in unclean places, right?).
I don’t know about you but I think I’d be beside myself if I were travelling with Jesus and this crazy-possessed guy started charging us!
I think Luke is setting us up to hear another story later on, when Jesus is accused of being in an alliance with the devil. Jesus makes a reference to tying up a strong man and being tied up by a stronger man. Here you have a demon possessed man that CANNOT be bound by chains and shackles—no one can subdue him but at the mere sight of Jesus he falls down to the ground.
Who is the strong man?
Who is the stronger man?
The question the man asks Jesus is borderline rude. It translates literally something like: What is it to you and to me? It’s a question designed to separate the one asking from the one being asked. It’s the same question Jesus uses to rebuff his mother when she wants him to supply wine to the wedding feast in John 2.
But the difference here is that the demon is now begging Jesus.
“Please – leave us alone!”
It would be hard for first century readers to miss the significance of the demon’s name: Legion. In a Roman-occupied world, everyone would have know that a Legion was a Roman army unit (roughly 4000-6000 soldiers). Here we’re not being told the exact number of demons—it is a metaphor for “a lot.”
Yet despite their great numbers they are not powerful enough to defeat Jesus. They like to torment but don’t like to be tormented! They’ve met their match in the one called Jesus. So Jesus sends them out of the human, the one made in the image of God, and into a herd of pigs. It’s a fitting end—the unclean spirits go into unclean animals and drown in the watery depths!
Hollywood can’t even come up with stuff this good. 🙂
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.
What do the people fear? Jesus has come to bring freedom to the spiritually oppressed and they can’t handle it. In an ironic twist, while Jesus drives away the demons the people try to drive Jesus away. Jesus is never one to stay where he isn’t wanted so he leaves. In contrast to the rest of the town, the formerly possessed man doesn’t want Jesus to leave without him! But Jesus sends him away to tell others about what God had done.
Here’s the interesting thing to me: when people have an encounter with Jesus it is hard to keep them quiet. They make the best evangelists and invite everyone they know to hear about what God has done. It’s the best kind of God-talk because you can’t dispute someone’s personal experience with God.
“Let me tell you what Jesus did for me!”
What can people say? “No, he didn’t REALLY do that.”
No, an encounter with Jesus can leave us radically changed and healed. Sometimes it’s spiritual. Sometimes it’s physical. But there is no power that can outmatch him. There is no presence that can beat him.
He is incomparable.
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called “Breath of God.” It’s one of my wife’s favorites and has an incredible message about the power of God at work in our lives.
What power of earth
What strength of Man
Makes dust alive
And bone to dance
Creating beauty unsurpassed?
Our second song is “God Is Able.” It declares the awesome wonder of God—the foundation and rock upon which we build our faith and lives. The song declares,
God is able, He will never fail—He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek, Greater than all we ask—He has done great things
Lifted up, He defeated the grave
Raised to life our God is able
In His name we overcome
For the Lord our God is able
– Has Jesus made a before-and-after difference in my life? What else needs to be released before I am free?
– Are we more interested in business as usual (like the pig merchants) or the power of God to deliver our chaotic lives?
– Do we celebrate God’s power to change or fear what we will have to sacrifice for the change to happen?
– What can/do I say about my experience with Jesus to others?
MAKING IT REAL
– This week, examine the areas where nothing has seemed to work. You just can’t get control and all of your efforts seem in vain.
– Consciously and intentionally fall at the feet of Jesus seeking help with your demons. Just see what his power can do!
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our Facebook page.
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!
– – – – – – – – – –
If there’s anything you would like prayer for just contact us and we’ll be happy to pray for you. We also provide pastoral counseling. Let us know how we can serve you. We’d love feedback from you. You can send us an email or comment below. Let us know your thoughts and how you think we can get better.
The Church Plant has launched a new missions fundraiser to help fund two orphanages in Zimbabwe. You can read all about it here! This is the biggest endeavor we’ve ever been a part of. Even if you can’t donate, please share the story and help this cause go viral. Thank you for your help.
If you’ve been blessed by Pastor Linzey’s ministry, please consider donating to The Church Plant by clicking here.