When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gaderenses, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted… The demons begged Jesus, “if you drive us out, send us into the heard of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water… Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.- Matthew 8:28-29a, 30-32, 34
This was a passage I shared at the Council Meeting at Almond Union of Churches on Monday. A brief look showed two thoughts worthy of our reflection.
First, the demons that possessed the two men in the story immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of God. They were powerful demons, the men they possessed were so violent that no one could pass that way. Yet, they seem to be afraid of Jesus. Asking if He was going to torture them, then finally begging to be sent into the pigs. The demons recognized and feared the Son of God.
But the second thought I had was that the townspeople didn’t. When the townspeople heard what happened and came out to see Jesus, they didn’t seem to immediately recognize Jesus. In fact, they asked him to leave their region.
They must have acknowledged his power, they surely heard of the demon-possessed men that lived by the tombs, and most certainly feared them greatly; these were very violent demons. Yet with one word, Jesus cast them out. They must have recognized His power.
Were they feeling convicted and unworthy? Is that why they asked Him to leave? Or was more a matter of inconvenience? Jesus’ presence had already cost them an entire herd of pigs. What more was he going to do?
Aren’t there times when we struggle with the same issues? We know of Jesus’ power to transform our lives. But we are pretty comfortable where we are. Beside, a radical life of faith will cost us a lot. Are we prepared to give up those things that get in the way of a relationship with Jesus? Or will we ignore him. Or worse yet, ask him to leave.
We’ve seen His power. We know He can do amazing things in our lives. Will we choose to follow Him?