And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
(Matthew 8:28-34 ESV)
Today we read a very unique story. After crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples come across two demon-possessed men. Matthew’s account is quite brief. Mark and Luke’s versions are longer [Mark 5:1-19; Luke 8:26-39].
These men lived in the tombs – not a normal place to live. Here we see one effect of giving one’s life over to Satan – making strange choices. They were also so fierce that no one could pass that way. These men were bullies. They were the equivalent of modern-day terrorists – controlling others through fear.
This is the way of Satan. Satan leads an army of evil angels (demons) whose one and only goal is to disrupt life. They bring nothing good into the world. They only create problems.
Notice that the demons knew who Jesus was. They call Him Son of God. They also knew of God’s plans and timing, pointing out that the time had not yet come for them to be tormented. There will come a time when all those who have rebelled against Jesus – both human and angelic beings – will be cast away from Him forever. This will happen at the end of the world, after Jesus judges all life [Revelation 20:10]. These humans and angels will suffer torment for all eternity.
Sadly, Satan and his demons know more about God than we do. That is why they are able to gain control over us so easily. As Jesus demonstrated in His wilderness experience, when we know the Bible we can recognize Satan’s schemes and thereby keep our lives free from trouble.
These demons had taken over the bodies of humans but they realized that Jesus would care enough about these men to cast them out. So instead they request to go into the herd of pigs.
Human beings are more valuable to God than animals. Likewise, earthly treasures (these pigs were owned by someone) cannot be compared to eternal ones. Yes, the now demon-possessed herd of pigs rushed down the steep bank and into the sea and drowned in the waters. But that is a small loss compared to the spiritual health of the men in whom the demons originally resided.
Notice also that demons can’t do anything without God allowing it. God allowed the demons to enter the men, presumably because of sin in their lives. The demons could not enter the pigs without Jesus (who was God) allowing it either.
God allows Satan to spread evil in this world (with limitations) in order to bring about good. Just like ore is refined through fire, God uses Satan to bring about good in our lives [Romans 8:28]. But this can only happen if we allow Him to. If we give ourselves over to Satan like these men did, then we end up being destroyed just like the pigs were.
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