Teaching: Luke 8:26-39
Jesus restores a demon-possessed man
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes,[a] which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!’ 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30 Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’
‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.
As we begin I want you to imagine what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden, when everything was perfect – just before the fall. What must it have been like to walk and talk face to face with God? To enjoy every pleasure imaginable. What must it have been like to live in absolute harmony with all created things? To live in an environment of perfect peace, perfect love and acceptance, with perfect relationships? What must it have been like to be free to give, to share, to be yourself with absolutely no fear of being hurt or rejected? Or to live the life that you were created to live?
We all long for a life such as that don’t we? I know that next week I will be going on holiday, and even that sense of peace around beautiful scenery and sunshine is probably as close as I will get in this life to something so free of busyness and the challenges of life.
Today I want us to think therefore about what it must be like to be free. Where do you find peace and feel free from the burdens of life? According to the Bible, there is no other kind of freedom than that of freedom in Christ. It is only when Christ is present, whether in the life of an individual, a family, a church, or a nation that they experience genuine and lasting freedom, but even that freedom is something most believers will never experience because of three obstacles that we face. And therefore today’s passage helps us to understand the obstacles that we must overcome if we are to be free in Christ.
The first obstacle is an opposition from Satan
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be this man? I’m guessing he was just like everyone else. Therefore I wonder what circumstances led to his running around naked, if someone had pity on him and had tried to dress him. As he roamed through the housing areas, people must have avoided him at all costs, none daring to take the risk to put him up for the night, so he lived out by the water in the tombs among the dead. For fear of their safety and perhaps for his own good, people had tried to chain the poor man up, putting shackles on his hands and wrists, but he kept breaking them, displaying a superhuman strength.
He was plagued by a mob of demons that went by the name of Legion. In the Roman army, a legion of soldiers numbered 6,000 men. We don’t know if there were 6,000 demons present in this man or not, but there were many. They were slowly destroying his life and even his will to live.
And folks that’s what Satan wants to do – to destroy us.He is an obstacle for us from freedom. Remember those words from John 10:10 “The thief comes not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…”
Satan wants to destroy you, he wants to inhabit people’s lives and cause chaos. If you ever see any disagreement, gossip, rumours – it is all fuelled from the brokenness of our world which originates fro Satan. Remember 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that…
“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Satan is having a field day today in our towns and families, as many people have no anchor in Jesus to hold on to for defence. John 12:40 says “He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”
When Jesus walked into this man’s life, He saw something in him that proved his readiness to be free from the demonic spirits, something that cried out for deliverance, and Jesus delivered him. Folks, there are many people today who are laden down with all kinds of challenges – whatever it may be, and the only answer to freedom from this is through Jesus Christ.
The second obstacle towards freedom is a Love of Darkness
When we look at the state of society and the world today many of us, even if there is no Christian faith there, will admit that things are seriously broken. But that brokenness comes from Satan – it’s not to be blamed on God. Therefore in order to deal with that brokenness is to step out darkness into the light of Jesus.
Jesus came to be the light of the world. He said “he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Therefore the most difficult part of coming to Christ is overcoming this obstacle – following after Jesus rather than anything else. Can we say that every decision we make is done seeking God’s light and revelation rather than our own desire? We have therefore got to flee from anything that is not of God. The Bible calls it repentance, turning from the darkness, from sin and shame and guilt and stepping into the light. When you step out of that world into the world of light, then you can find freedom like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. What you think you control will ultimately control you. You can’t flirt around in the dark. We have got to actively walk towards the light of Christ who will bring incredible relief.
And the third obstacle towards freedom is Fear
When Jesus cast the demons into the herd of pigs, they raced off the edge of a cliff, drowning in the Sea of Galilee. You’ll notice that these unclean spirits inhabited animals that were considered unclean to the Jews. They were bent on destroying life, no matter what form it took, and now they destroyed this herd of about 2,000 pigs. When the pig-farmers saw it, they ran into town to tell everyone. Verse 35 is a telling verse.
“Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.”
You see, all their conditioning, all their chains and shackles couldn’t do for this man what Jesus had done with just the power of His spoken word, and they were afraid of such a great power, so afraid in fact that they demanded He leave. It didn’t matter that this man who had been in such bondage was now set free, or that this Jesus was just as concerned about their eternal souls – they were afraid and unwilling to have any dealings with Him.
We fear what is beyond our experience, and because we fear it, the easiest thing to do is reject it. But Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid. He wants everyone to know the freedom that comes in following him, and therefore we must surrender any fear.
Jesus is on a mission today to set you free: free from the destructive pull of Satan on all our lives. Once all of us recognise we are in some form of bondage, it’s the start of a journey towards recovery and freedom in our lives. Everyone of us is in bondage in some way or other, but God can set us free.
So today recognise that the tension, the anger inside you, the conflict, whatever it is you may be feeling comes not from God, but from Satan. He is real and wants to destroy your relationship with God and others. Recognise a need to run away from darkness and into the light of God. And finally surrender any fear to what God wants to do as he transforms us into his likeness.
The obstacles are real, and they are difficult to overcome. Most in society will never find freedom, but for those of you who are ready, Jesus stands today ready. He says to you, “I have come to give you life, and to give it to you in great abundance.” The question is what is holding you back?