“They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes,[b] 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.” Luke 8.26-29
Let me stop you even before you’ve begun. To consider how you might deal with this demon in a ministry setting is utter insanity. There is no way in heck that I would be approaching this naked-crazy-yelling-at-the-top-of-his-lungs man. No way that I would even want to come close to this guy. I would see him, feel some sort of compassion mixed with revulsion, and try to erase the memory as quickly as I could. I’d come up with a good spiritual justification for not helping the guy and then find a distraction minutes later to ease my guilty conscience.
But not Jesus. But. Not. Jesus. He didn’t turn a blind eye, he stopped. He stooped. He spoke. He silenced the terror consuming the flesh of this man from Gerasene. Only the Son of God could do it. People had tried for years. They had chained him up, kept him under guard, and watched as he was led by the demon who possessed him into solitary places — not places of community, warmth, faith and fellowship. Which is, by the way, is what Satan loves — darkness, isolation and despair.
I would have run away but Jesus runs to the man. As he stepped ashore he was met by the man possessed by the demon who was already under his control, because “Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.” And the demon-possessed guy cries out, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God….I beg you, don’t torture me.”
What the heck? First, how did the man know it was Jesus? Second, how did he know he was the Son of God? And third, how did he know Jesus had the ability to bring unbearable amounts of torture, pain and judgement upon the demon possessed man? This is astounding in itself. It tells us there is much here that does not meet the eye. The realm of the spirit is visible to those who are spirit and aware of God’s invisible order. The demon saw that it was Jesus, he felt that it was Jesus, he heard that it was Jesus and he was absolutely terrified. For Jesus is no friend of the devil.
Jesus stopped not just to help the person, he stopped to heal the man. To free him from his bondage, to release him from his addictions, to rescue him from his pain. And as we will see, later on in this Scripture,Jesus did just that.
Now I want to take a few lessons out of this for personal application. First, there is power in the name of Jesus and I can wield it in his Spirit. I do not have to cower from demons or the devil, Jesus is my shield, portion and defender. Through his name, I can find strength, hope and freedom in my time of need.
Second, Jesus sees and stops for the hurting and so should we. Whether it was the half-naked man with no arms I saw in Nicaragua that shocked me, or the streets filled human waste in the slums of Kibera, Africa, or the homeless person begging on the streets of Austin, Texas — I must stop, be his hands and feet, and help by loving the least, the last and the lost.
Now I confess, it’s not comfortable to help those in need. It’s sometimes inconvenient, sometimes problematic, sometimes disagreeable to our sensibilities. But it is absolutely if we are to walk as Jesus walked.
Will you walk with Jesus into these demon disasters? Will you park the car and help the broken? Will you pen the check that releases the captives? Do this in the name of Jesus and you will be in sync with the Son of God and the Spirit.
“O Lord God, what if I stopped each time I saw a need? Trusting your Spirit to guide me, will you lead me to those in need? Will you fill me with your love and light? Help me not neglect the poor and needy. Help me find compassion for the hurting. Come now, Holy Spirit, cover me like a blanket. Find me faithful and use me for your purposes and with your protection. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen