PIGS AND POWER
Father, like your people of old, my worship often needs to be reignited. Show me how I can restore passion in my worship.
Read MATTHEW 8:28–34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,[a] two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32 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. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 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 Some manuscripts Gergesenes; other manuscripts Gerasenes
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’1
My children find the fate of the pigs in this passage somewhat alarming. I try to reassure them that the question of whether Jesus likes pigs is not one this text asks (though I’m sure it’s possible to construct a theology of animal welfare from Scripture more generally). Rather, the pigs perform a function: as ritually unclean animals they are an appropriate vehicle for unclean demons.2 In fact, Matthew is not even very interested in the demon-possessed men (unlike Mark and Luke in parallel passages).3 He tells this episode – trimmed of extraneous detail – to emphasize one thing: Jesus’ authority and power over the hosts of darkness.
He does this first by describing the demons’ reaction to Jesus. Despite their violent character, the mere presence of Jesus terrifies them (v 29). As supernatural creatures, they immediately perceive Jesus’ significance, recognizing him as ‘Son of God’, the one who will be their judge. Second, Jesus drives them out with a single word (v 32). No magical incantations are required: Jesus’ authority is such that he simply opens his mouth and the forces of evil flee before him. ‘… he lifts his voice, the earth melts!’4 Third, it is significant that this demonstration of Jesus’ power takes place on the far side of the lake (v 28). His authority extends beyond boundaries, then and now. Where are those places beyond boundaries today, where you can pray to see God’s power displace the darkness? Finally, Jesus’ power greatly perturbs the people of this town (v 34). Matthew does not explain why they begged him to leave, but it seems they were unprepared for the effects of Christ’s kingdom coming among them. We are likely to observe similar reactions to Jesus’ power today: do not be disheartened.
Pray for those you live among, that they may be prepared for the disrupting power of Christ.
Lord, I am reminded that you are greater than Satan and all his minions. When I fight spiritual battles, I am fighting from victory not for victory. Thank you, Lord.
1 Isa 9:2 2 Lev 11:7; Deut 14:8 3 Mark 5:1–20; Luke 8:26–39 4 Ps 46:6
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