Pests

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. (Luke 8:26-31)

What’s in a name? Sometimes much less than first appears. The country of the Gerasenes was in northern Israel, just to the southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The Roman Emperor Augustus had given the region to Herod the Great when he made him king. The population of the region seems to have been mostly made up of non-Jewish people.

Jesus engaged in a very brief conversation there with a demon possessed man—or rather, with the demons that had taken control of him and destroyed his life. They referred to themselves collectively as “Legion.” In the Roman army, a legion consisted of between 3000 and 6000 soldiers. Does this mean that this poor man was tormented by that many demons? Or were they lying and pretending to be more than they were? I think it’s very unlikely they were telling Jesus the truth, since Satan is known to be a liar; I doubt his demons are noted for their veracity. So Jesus was not intimidated or impressed by what they chose to call themselves. And the demons realized they were in trouble. They asked Jesus for mercy, begging him not to send them into the abyss.

What is the abyss? The book of Revelation describes it as a place of fire and smoke, where Satan will be confined for a thousand years.

Jesus didn’t care about the demons. He only cared about the man they inhabited. Jesus doesn’t care about what has a hold of you. Like that demonized man, he’s only concerned about setting you free from it.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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