Jesus Deals With Demon Possession
By James Donahue
of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, include versions of a strange story involving the exorcism of a man long possessed
As the story is told, Jesus
and his disciples took a boat across the Sea of Galilee. As they arrived on the shore in the “region of the Gerasenes,
a naked man came running out of a cave pleading with Jesus to go away and leave him alone.
Jesus asked the man: “What is your name?” And the man answered: “Legion,” because many
demons were living in him. At this point Jesus was communicating only with the demons. They begged Jesus not to force them
away, but asked that they be sent into a herd of pigs feeding on a nearby hill.
Jesus granted the demonic wish and sent them into the pigs. But the entire herd, estimated to be over 100 in number,
then went into a crazed stampede down the hill and into the lake where they drowned.
is this story all about?
If it really
happened as written in the gospel stories, it means that Jesus successfully carried out an exorcism of a man long suffering
from demonic possession. Demon possession may be more common than we realize
since the symptoms seem to resemble insanity. As the gospel story explained, the possessed man was rejected from society,
bound in chains and shackles and kept under guard because of his erratic behavior. Each time he seemed to be getting well
and was unchained, the demons took over his body and he became chained up again. Totally rejected by society, the man was
living naked and alone in the caves where the people entombed the dead.
Once freed of the demons, the man returned to the community to tell the people what a wonderful thing Jesus had
done for him. Does this mean he was never possessed again?
Demon possession is not something that happens accidentally. While we live surrounded by the spirits of both demons
and angels, they do not get involved in our lives unless they are invited. This man may have been delving into the ancient
rites of mysticism, which many believe even to this day can result in success, wealth and other rewards. But turning to demons
for such favors always results in pay-back. Usually the price paid for the favor is severe.
It is that old story of people selling their souls to the Devil and later realizing that it was a very bad mistake.
Christian theologians have written various commentaries about this story because it takes an odd twist that many
Bible readers find troublesome. Instead of driving away the demons (and there appeared to be a gang of them) Jesus accepted
their request and sent them into some nearby pigs.
Did Jesus have the power to kill the demons? If he was truly God in the flesh, he probably did. But all living
creatures in this world and in the spiritual world are part of Creation. Thus they are as precious to the Creator as the man
suffering possession. Thus for Jesus it was a fair trade to send the demons off into a herd of pigs.
It should be mentioned here that pork was not an accepted meat for
Jewish consumption. Thus it was strange that a local herdsman was raising so many pigs. Yet the pigs, like the demons, are
living creatures and part of God’s creation. So why did Jesus condemn the pigs by sending the dark spirits into them?
Notice that the moment the demons entered them, the pigs rushed
off into the nearby lake to drown. If Jesus loved all creatures, why would he have done this to the pigs? The demonic spirits
would not have perished, but simply returned to the spiritual realm where they belonged.
All that was accomplished in this story is that a demon possessed man was healed and able to tell his story to
the people of the region where it happened. The herdsman that lost the pigs had his sad story to tell. And there were a lot
of dead and decaying pigs floating around in the lake.
In the end, we have suffering by the herdsmen, the pigs, and the people left to clean up the mess, all because
one foolish man called forth some demons in the hope of gaining wealth that he did not deserve.