This is a follow on from Our Authority in Christ, and it came about as I read a passage of scripture, which at first confused me. I then turned to the internet for some possible answers for my questions. That confused me even more. I eventually found an explanation by a pastor, which made sense, so I read the passage again and this time it made much more sense. A combination of what this pastor said and what I believe the Holy Spirit said to me has lead me to a conclusion which I will share with you here. The passage was the one where Jesus casts out the demons into the pigs. Here it is from Matthew 8:28-34.
Jesus Heals Two Demon-Possessed Men
When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.
They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?”
There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”
“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.
So many questions. Why were they scared and why did they react? Why did Jesus let them go into the pigs? Why did the pigs drown? Why wouldn’t the people accept Jesus? Let me start at the beginning. These men were known to be there, people avoided this spot because they were so dangerous. These men were dangerous, but it was actually the demons that were dangerous, not the men. In fact one of the men ask to follow Jesus at a later stage, but Jesus says that he would do more good in his own village. So if the demons were so dangerous, why did they react to Jesus in that way? Because He was (and is) God. The demons recognised the authority that He had and they were scared. Manifestations are very often just because the demons are cornered and they are scared. They would much rather fly under the radar, so they only really have an outburst like that when they feel threatened. The other thing that fills me with hope, is that they are so powerful, yet they are terrified of Jesus. Jesus hasn’t even said anything to them yet, but they are already trying to get away. Demons are no match for Jesus, not even close.
The next part of the story is interesting, why the pigs? I’m not sure why the demons wanted to go into the pigs, maybe they prefer to inhabit some ‘earthly being’, I don’t know. I’m more concerned about why Jesus ‘gave into them’. Jesus showed everyone compassion, demons are not anyone. I don’t believe this was an act of compassion. You can’t have compassion for people and then have compassion on the very evil that is trying to destroy those people. Don’t think for a second that we have to show them compassion. I believe that Jesus sent the demons into the pigs to show the severity of the situation. The bible mentions that there were about 2000 pigs (Mark 5:13), which would give an indication as to how many demons there were. I believe that Jesus wanted the people, disciples, and us to see how many demons fled. All he did was tell them to go. That was the severity of the situation, and that was the ‘simplicity’ of Jesus’ response. That shows the authority that Jesus had (and has).
Now what happened to the farmer afterwards is unclear, but Jesus saw fit to use the pigs as an illustration. What concerns me more is the people’s response to Jesus. They ask Him to leave. Here is someone who has just rid them of thousands of demons and made the area safe again, and they ask Him to leave. I’m not sure why they did this, but it serves as a warning for us today. Firstly, let’s not reject the Word of God just because we may not understand it all. Maybe they asked Jesus to leave because they felt sorry for the farmer, I don’t know. If they did, then they threw away an amazing experience which would have changed their lives forever, over a misunderstanding. Let us not do the same. The other idea is that they were scared. Maybe all of this ‘supernatural’ stuff scared them. This is also a warning to us. We now have the authority that Jesus had in this story, yes, He gave it to us. He gave us the authority to cast out demons and heal the sick in Mark 16:17-18. This is now our responsibility, we too have the authority over demons. We too just have to say the word and they will flee. Don’t be scared of it, welcome Jesus in and take up the challenge. By the way, it says that we have the authority to heal people, not to pray that God heals them. Think about it.
Fight the good fight.