Possession of an Unclean Spirit. Possessed with the devil. Demonic possession. Exorcism.
Such things you expect to see in a horror movie or read about in a spine-tingling novel. Something we might think about when Halloween rolls around.
However, demon possession was serious business to Jesus. The Gospels that give us an account of Jesus’s life on this earth include his dealings with those with unclean spirits. He didn’t limit his healing powers to those who were blind, deaf, lame, etc. He also healed those whose mind and body had been taken over by evil spirits. One such story is told in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The story was about a man who had a legion of them.
According to Mark chapter 5, Jesus went over to the other side of the sea, across from Galilee, to the country of the Gadarenes. When He came out of the ship, he immediately met this man who resided in a graveyard. His neighbors were tombstones. There were those who tried to chain him up for protection, but no man could bound him. They were no match against the devil who had robbed this man of his sanity. This isolated human being spent much of his time crying and cutting himself with stones. He lived a miserable existence.
When Jesus saw the man, He ordered the unclean spirit out of this man. The spirit immediately recognized Jesus and knew he was no match against Jesus. Although no man could chain this man down, Jesus merely had to give the command. The evil spirit cried with a loud voice saying, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”
It is worthy to note that Jesus didn’t have to introduce himself. There were many people who did not believe or were skeptical of Jesus being who He claimed to be. But not this evil spirit.
Jesus asked him what his name was. The unclean spirit answered his name was Legion; for they were many. Knowing he could not stand against the Son of God, he asked that Jesus would not send them away out of the country. Instead, he asked if Jesus would send them into a big herd of swine feeding nearby. Jesus granted their request and the evil spirits entered into the swine. This caused the herd of about two thousand to become violent and run down a steep place into the sea where they drowned.
Those whose job it was to feed the swine suddenly found themselves with no swine to feed. You could say they had an emergency on their hands. Their job security had been at the very least considerably diminished. They went into the city and countrysides to tell what they had witnessed with their own eyes.
The city and country folk came out to the place where the unimaginable had happened. The herd of swine was at the bottom of the sea all right. Jesus was there along with the man who was was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. You would think they would have been delighted to see this man healed from his miserable suffering. Instead, they were afraid of this One who had the power to put even a demon out of business.
The people pleaded with Jesus to depart out of their neck of the woods. Maybe it was sheer fear on their part. Or, maybe they were upset at losing an income of around two thousand sheep.
Jesus did not hang around and departed on a ship. The man who was now free of Legion asked Jesus if he could go with Him because he wanted to follow the One who gave him back ownership of his body and mind. Although it was noble for him to volunteer his service, Jesus had other plans for Him. It was to serve but back in his hometown. He had a story to tell and Jesus wanted him to go back to his original home and tell it to his friends.
The man had an awesome story to tell. He once was possessed by unclean spirits; he now had his life back so to speak. A life that was never the same again. It reminds me of how I felt after the Lord saved my soul when I was nine years old. I fondly remember how I wanted to tell the whole world that I had been saved.
The joy of salvation is a wondrous thing. The excitement dies down a bit with the daily business of living. I have to occasionally stop off the merry-go-round of life and reflect on how God’s marvelous gift of salvation sustains me. I can’t imagine how I could go about the business of living, riding out the stormy weather life can bring, if I didn’t have this precious gift of Jesus as my Savior.
If one is saved, one has a story to tell. If one has had a prayer answered, one has a story to tell. I tell my story with the God-given talent of writing. There’s more than one way to tell a story and be a witness for the Lord. Whether it is in one-on-one conversation, a testimony given in a group setting, a phone conversation, or an e-mail exchange, what matters is telling the story laid upon your heart. Just as the man who was freed from Legion by Jesus had one to tell.