Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The miracles of Matthew chapter 8 demonstrate the authority that Jesus exercised over disease (8:1-17), over men (8:18-22), over nature (8:23-27), and over the demons (8:28-34). They authenticated Him to be the divine Son of God. The disciples asked, “What kind of man is this?” These miracles tell us (Cf. Luke 7:19-23; John 20:30-31).

The account of the exorcism of the demons from the two men is remarkable. The demons recognized Jesus for who He was (Matthew 8:29). Both Mark and Luke tell us that the men were possessed by many demons (Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30). Note that Mark and Luke focus on only one men, while Matthew’s account includes two—Mark 5:1-17; Luke 8:26-37.

These demon-possessed men were greatly tormented. They had been driven away to live in the tombs. Both Mark and Luke record that at least one of the men had been bound with shackles and chains, but that the demons were powerful enough to enable the man to tear apart the chains and break apart the shackles (Mark 5:3-4; Luke 8:29). No one was strong enough to subdue him. “Constantly, night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones” (Mark 5:5). Luke’s account adds that the man “had not put on any clothing for a long time (Luke 8:27). So violent were these men that no one could pass by them on the road. One can imagine children and travelers being warned to avoid these men and that area. They were injurious to themselves and dangerous to their community. But people had learned how to deal with them…

Jesus came to town and exorcised the demons. He did it authoritatively, powerfully, immediately, and dramatically. He granted the demon’s request that they be cast into the herd of swine. The swine herd “rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea” (Mark 5:13). It was an obvious display of Christ’s miraculous power.

The various responses to this miracle are instructive. The herdsmen “ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country” (Mark 5:14). “The people came to see what it was that had happened” (Mark 5:14). “And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. And those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine” (Mark 5:15-16).

It’s what happens next that is surprising: “And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region” (Mark 5:17). Luke adds “for they were gripped with fear” (Luke 8:37). It reminds us of Peter’s first response to a miracle of Jesus: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). John MacArthur commented on their response: “They saw the supernatural and it panicked them. They saw one who could control the demons. They saw one who could control animals. They saw one who could take the soul of a man and give it back to him as white and pure as the driven snow, and they were scared to death. They saw God is what they saw. I don't know if they all understood that, but they knew it was supernatural, and men don't like that. It makes them uncomfortable. Give us back our pigs and go away. Men can handle pigs; they can't handle God. The mystery of the supernatural they can't handle…People say, Oh if you could just see the miracles you'd believe. Listen, the people who saw the miracles didn't believe. They nailed Him to a cross and they'd seen miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle. They still didn't believe. That just made them hate Him more and more and more and more. People think today that if they can just show everybody a pile of miracles everybody will believe. No, because some people when exposed in the presence of the awesomeness of holy God will literally run because they love their darkness.”

The entire region drove Him off (“And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to depart from them”), but one stood by Him. The man who had been delivered was “sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in His right mind” (Luke 8:35). The region begged Jesus to leave—“better the demons we know than this Man we cannot control.” But the changed man begged Jesus for something else: “But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him” (Luke 8:38). He had personally experienced the sincere love and transforming power of Jesus. He had been a disgrace and blight to himself and the community, but Jesus made a worshipper out of Him. “And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39). Has Jesus done great things for you? Follow in that man’s steps!

J. C. Ryle gave this solemn warning to those who respond to Jesus in the manner of the Gadarenes: “Let us take heed that we do not sin the sin of the Gadarenes. Let us beware lest by coldness, and inattention, and worldliness, we drive Jesus from our doors, and compel Him to forsake us entirely. Of all sins which we can sin, this is the most sinful. Of all states of soul into which we can fall, none is so fearful as to be "let alone." Let it rather be our daily prayer that Christ may never leave us to ourselves. The old wreck, high and dry on the sand-bank, is not a more wretched sight than the man whose heart Christ has visited with mercies and judgments, but has at last ceased to visit, because He was not received. The barred door is a door at which Jesus will not always knock. The Gadarene mind must not be surprised to see Christ leaving it and going away.”

Pastor Jerry

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