They traveled across the sea to the land of Gerasa in Galilee. When Jesus came ashore there, He was immediately met by a man who was tortured by an evil spirit. This man lived in the cemeteries, and no one could control him—not even those who tried to tie him up or chain him. He had often been bound in chains, but his strength was so great that he could break the chains and tear the irons loose from his feet and hands. No one and nothing could subdue him. Day and night, he lurked among the tombs or ran mad in the hills, and the darkness made him scream or cut himself with sharp-edged stones. When this man saw Jesus coming in the distance, he ran to Him and fell to his knees in front of Him. Jesus started commanding the unclean spirit.
Jesus: Come out of that man, you wicked spirit!
Unclean Spirit (shouting): What’s this all about, Jesus, Son of the Most High? In the name of God, I beg You—don’t torture me!
Jesus: What is your name?
Unclean Spirit: They call me “Legion,” for there are thousands of us in this body.
And then Legion begged Jesus again to leave them alone, not to send them out of the country.
Since the Gerasenes were not Jews (who considered pigs to be unclean), there happened to be a large herd of swine, some 2,000 of them, feeding on the hill nearby.
Unclean Spirit (begging): Send us into those pigs if You have to, so that we may enter into them.
Jesus granted the request. The darkness swept up out of the man and into the herd of pigs. And then they thundered down the hill into the water; and there they drowned, all 2,000 of them.
The swineherds ran away, telling everybody they met what had happened. Eventually a crowd of people came to see for themselves. When they reached Jesus, they found the man Legion had afflicted sitting quietly, sane and fully clothed; when they saw this, they were overwhelmed with fear and wonder.
Those who had witnessed everything told the others what had happened: how Jesus had healed the man, how the pigs had rushed into the sea, and how they had destroyed themselves. When they had heard the whole story, the Gerasenes turned to Jesus and begged Him to go away.
When Jesus climbed back into the boat, the cured demoniac asked if he could come and be with Him, but Jesus said no.
Jesus: Stay here; I want you to go back home to your own people and let them see what the Lord has done—how He has had mercy on you.
So the man went away and began telling this news [about what Jesus had done for him] in the Ten Cities region; wherever he went, people were amazed by what he told them.
Darkness and light. While that’s normally a theme in John’s telling of the Jesus’ story, I like the way The Voice uses it here. It states that, “the darkness made him scream or cut himself with sharp stones.” While other translations refer to the darkness as “night,” I like the way The Voice ties that darkness to “Legion” - the darkness within the man. At Jesus’ command, “the darkness swept up out of the man...” I hadn’t ever seen that story in that way before.
How many of us still have darkness within us? Granted, it may not be as dark as the man in the story, but we all struggle with it. A lot of the time, we aren’t the best of humanity. Sometimes we’re selfish, greedy, lazy. Like the man in the story, we need Jesus to flood us with Light and release that darkness within us.
But let me tell you a secret...
Jesus has already released us.
Because of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, we have been released from darkness. We have been set free. As John wrote, “[If] the Son comes to make you free, you will really be free.”
The issue is, sometimes, we choose to be bound. We choose the chains and the darkness.
But why would we do this?
Because, like the man in our story, we have been sent to tell other what Jesus has done. We’ve been sent back into that place where the darkness is still kicking and screaming to stay in control. Instead of leaving with Jesus, we’ve been given the hard task of staying here and changing the world. And sometimes, the darkness overcomes us.
But be of good courage! Jesus overcame the darkness! If he can do it, so can we! He has given us his Spirit, the Spirit of the Loving G_d, to walk in the graveyards of the world telling all we meet what Christ has done for all of us.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.