“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’ For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.”
— Mark 5:1-10
Recently, I was listening to a news report about the addiction issues of a very popular actor and how his actions had caused an interruption in the production of his TV show. The reporter said, “He needs help to deal with his demons.”
I thought about this scripture and the man known as the Gerasene demoniac.
First of all, when you are tormented in this way, the only thing that seems to work is a touch from Jesus.
Just like the actor, this man in the scripture was affecting everyone around him. He was holding the whole area hostage, and when the authorities arrested him he would break free, run loose and harass them even more. The Bible says that he would not let anyone pass near the graveyard where he lived.
In Matthew’s text about Jesus’ visit to the Garasenes, there are two men living in the tombs and they run out to meet Jesus for deliverance. That unclean and impure spirit that called itself Legion might have been tied to an ungodly and lascivious lifestyle.
However, after Jesus casts out the unclean spirit, the man returns to normal. When the people of his community see him, they do not recognize him because he is fully dressed and in his right mind. The pigs that the demon’s spirit entered ran down an embankment and drowned themselves. These pigs were smarter than some people; they refused to live with demons in them.
Just like the actor, most of us make excuses and expect others to make adjustments for our bad behavior. The town in the Bible made adjustments for this mad man and when they heard about the pigs and saw that Legion was delivered, they got uncomfortable and asked Jesus to leave their area.
Although the man wanted to leave with Jesus, he was told to stay in the region and testify to his family and friends about the mercy of God. He began to travel throughout the 10 neighboring cities preaching the good news. One person can make a difference and when you are radically changed, you can change a region.
Deason is the senior pastor at Liberty Prayer Chapel and the executive director of the Liberty County Manna House.