Matthew 8:28-34 — The Gergesenes (Week 22)
PLEASE READ: Matthew 8:28-34
Associated Texts: Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:22-39
I love this story. We all should. And it’s not because these men were demon-possessed. It’s because I see Jesus coming to someone who no longer has any power to help themselves, or even seek the help they so desperately need. Here we see two individuals who are completely overcome and living a life few of us could ever imagine — one of gross demon possession that is seldom heard of or seen.
I love Jesus in this story. He comes; enduring a treacherous storm that He alone could still. This is the perfect example of the One who seeks the ninety-nine in search of the one who is lost. These men of the Gergesenes were not Jews. They were Gentiles. And yet Jesus comes; this time to those who are not His own. They’re not of the sheep of Israel. And He comes, not because these men asked for Him, but because of His compassion and mercy upon those who otherwise had no hope.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…,” (Isaiah 61:1, KJV).
How many of you have been in a place of utter desperation? You’re completely unable to help yourself, and you don’t even know what to do or what to ask for anymore. And you can’t overcome — because you’ve already been overcome. The enemy has you whipped (or so he thinks). Apart from Jesus Christ, you have no hope. He is all that is left. You may not even belong to Him. And you’re wondering…
Will He come for me?
The Sent One
Yes, just for you. He was sent just for you, and He will come just for you. Whatever it is that has overtaken you; whatever it is that you’ve done; wherever you are — Jesus Christ is able to find you and meet you right there.
In this story we see the most adverse and extraordinary of circumstances. I wish so much that I would have tied Week 21 of our Gospel Diaries journey with this one. Because it really is so prerequisite to this story. These two demon-possessed men were the very reason Jesus Christ crossed over to the other side. The Father sent Him on a mission, and the enemy roared in fury! You can read that previous lesson here. The tempest that came against Jesus and the disciples was swift and life-threatening. His disciples, who were very experienced fisherman, even declared they would perish. Let’s revisit the passage here:
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27, KJV).
Yes, even the winds and waves obey Him.
Jesus Christ was sent.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” (John 20:21, KJV).
It’s no wonder this marvelous story is included in Matthew’s gospel account (and Mark and Luke’s as well). No one could do anything with these guys. They were utterly hopeless. And with nothing more than a word, these demon-possessed men were completely delivered and set free.
We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (see Matthew 4:4). Let’s read this story together so we can fully glean the propriety here:
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts,” (Matthew 8:28-34, KJV).
Some of you out there are looking for the spiritual equivalent of “the big bang”. You’re looking for a miracle. And you genuinely need one. But the one you’re looking for comes with neon lights in the sky, angelic hosts, and every biblical phenomena in between. Because in your mind — that’s what it’s going to take to set you free. It’s so bad, and so deep, and so convoluted that you think it will require the whole host of heaven to accomplish what you need — and that may not even be enough.
But the Lord Jesus Christ would have you know —
All it takes is one word from His lips.
All of heaven and earth were created by His word. Furthermore, creation is sustained today by that word spoken since the beginning of time. Never underestimate the power of His word. It creates. It destroys. It breaks chains. It raises the dead. If you want to get something done: His word is the key.
What’s more: before His word was ever spoken the presence of Christ was enough to make those demons tremble and beg. Suddenly they had an itch they wanted Him to scratch. They were ready to go the minute He came on the scene — long before He said anything. With that said, Jesus Christ and Satan are NOT equal powers. Hardly.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they bethings in earth, or things in heaven,” (Colossians 1:16-20, KJV).
A Divine Disturbance
The enemy knows when his time is up. Jesus didn’t have to say anything. All He had to do was show up. His presence alone caused such a disturbance that the devils cried out, essentially begging Him for mercy. Demons cling to the unclean. To them, a flock of swine, which is abominable to God and therefore of no value to a Jew whatsoever, was the perfect habitat compared to everlasting torment where they belonged.
Request granted. But the swine perished. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. This was nothing more than a detour for the enemy’s final destination. And then where do you think those demons went? You got it — everlasting torment. But the people who owned that enormous flock of swine, who no doubt made their living off this bountiful herd, went mad as well. The news spread: not only of the possessed man — but of the swine, and the town’s consensus was unanimous: Now Jesus had to go. They kicked Him out.
Jesus Christ was willing to cause a mass disturbance
upending an entire town
just to set these men free.
Whatever the expense, Jesus Christ will gladly pay it. But don’t expect people to understand what Jesus did for you once He sets you free. You can proclaim it to everyone with ears to hear, even upon His command, but that doesn’t mean they will listen. And it certainly doesn’t mean they will understand. Miracles like this are often very personal and sacred. Only you will really know, understand, and appreciate what He’s done for you.
Christ warns us not to throw our pearls before swine (the unclean). And for very good reason. The dogs and swine (representing unbelievers) will turn and rend you. This story is a perfect example of how that can happen. Remember, these people were Gentiles; not Jews. They had no concept of the Messiah. And they could have cared less about this man’s freedom. What they felt was the immediate loss of their economic wealth — in the blink of an eye it was GONE.
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you,” (Matthew 7:6, KJV).
But if Jesus Christ does lead you to share, know that the legitimacy of the miracle He performed for you is not contingent upon how others respond to it. Miracles like this are sacred. No one can rob you of what He’s given unless you let them. And although these miracles bear witness of Christ’s glory and His power in your life; not everyone wants to see His glory, experience His power, or know Him in that capacity. It terrifies them. They would much rather see Him from afar, so long as their way of life is not disrupted or disturbed.
But know this–
Jesus Christ doesn’t mind causing disturbances. He is willing to upset and offend an entire town for the sake of setting one man completely free. That includes you and me.
He will brace the storm and still it. He will make a way where there is no way. He will meet you where you are — right in the center of your desperation, right in the middle of your graveyard. All is takes is His presence to make every demon coil. All it takes is one word to get the job done.
When you don’t know what to do, and you’re completely overcome, totally desperate, and utterly hopeless — Jesus Christ will come for you. He’s all you will ever need, and much more than you could ever hope to find.
Cheers & Shalom,
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