Luke 8: 26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 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. 28 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”— 29 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.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 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. 33 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.
In the previous section of Luke, Jesus demonstrates mastery of the natural world – stilling a storm. Now Jesus demonstrates mastery of the supernatural world – casting out demons. First, let’s look at some of the details of our passage.
We’re told that Gerasenes (Gargesa) is opposite Galilee. See the pic below:
You may notice the light blue line down the middle of the map to the north and south of the Sea of Galilee. That’s the River Jordan. The area west of the Jordan is the land of Israel. The area east of the Jordan is the land of Gentiles (non-Jews). You also see the green and orange lines indicating the path where Jesus crossed into Gergesa and back to Galilee.
In Gergesa Jesus encountered a man possessed by a legion of demons (a “legion” was a Roman military term for a group of about 6,000 soldiers). As a result he was not wearing clothes and was living in a cave instead of a home. V.29 tells us that the authorities had tried to control the man with “chains and shackles” for his own protection and that of his neighbors – but it didn’t work. The demons were so numerous, and so powerful, he simply broke the chains. By telling us about the chains Luke is hinting at a very important truth which no one had addressed before Jesus showed up.
The root of this man’s problem was supernatural in nature.
I’m guessing that by the time Jesus met the man, his neighbors had given up on him. Let the man live in the cave where at least he’s not a danger to others. The fact he lived in a cave is significant. In Jesus’ day, in that part of the world, people were usually buried in tombs, which were caves used to store the dead. Luke gives us this detail to indicate a sort of death had already taken place in the man. True, he had not mortally died yet, but his life was effectively over. He was a dead man walking.
So Jesus showed up on the scene and did what others had not yet done. He attended to the supernatural dimension of the problem, casting out the demons from the man into the herd of pigs nearby. Here’s an important truth:
When we encounter a problem that will not respond to typical “natural” solutions we are likely dealing with a supernatural problem.
The first important step in learning to deal with such problems is acknowledging the reality of the supernatural realm. It is not a myth or superstition, but a very real dimension of the universe. Next, we ask for grace to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power” (Ephesians 6:10). You and I bring little to this fight, but with God all things are possible. Jesus demonstrates his power and mastery of both the natural and supernatural. When we call on his name we are bringing to bear the powers of the Kingdom of God, which are available to us as children of God through Christ.
Finally we continue to pray for God’s power to bring breakthrough in the supernatural realm. It doesn’t always happen quickly, but the Lord hears our prayers. Lord, let it be so. Amen.