I think that you probably feel the same way that I do, the world is going crazy. It’s insane. And I know that every generation since Noah has said the same thing – ‘how much worse can it get?’ And every ‘next generation’ seems to take that as a challenge. And yesterday’s insanity becomes today’s normal at quicker and quicker rate and the spiral spins faster and sucks more poor souls into it and where will it end? And when will it end?
And will God finally say ‘ENOUGH’ and turn His back and walk away and leave us without hope? Because if we were God, that’s what we’d do. But thankfully, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8-9)
And so it is that we find our Lord, Jesus Christ, not fleeing but sailing right into the insanity. “Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.”
“OPPOSITE” Galilee geographically. But even more ‘opposite’ Galilee religiously. In Galilee, the people are “God’s people,” which doesn’t mean that they’re perfect or without sin, but at least they have God’s Word. And there’s a remnant there who, “hearing the Word of God, hold it fast in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.” (Lk. 8:15). Which means that the devil has to dress in sheep’s clothing to do his dirty work.
But ‘OPPOSITE GALILEE’ such is not the case. God’s Word has either never been sowed or none fell on good soil. So the devil is free to work in the open without disguise and his demons possess whom they will and all the “guards and chains and shackles” are like a spider’s web to a freight train.
So, the “GERASENES” is the last place you’d expect Jesus to want to go. It’s not safe. He’s bound to get a poor reception. “Why waste your time, Jesus?” But as I said, “your ways are not my ways,’ says the Lord.”
That was Jesus whom we heard declare, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually…who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places…who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” (Is. 65:1-5)
When the Pilgrims crossed the sea to come to America, they did so to bring the gospel to a heathen land among other reasons. And sometimes they were welcomed and sometimes they were not. As his sailors run his Mayflower ashore, Jesus is clearly NOT WELCOMED.
“When Jesus stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.” The man is ‘insane.’
And Luke tells the cause of his insanity. HE HAD DEMONS. All the counseling in the world isn’t going to help this man, because the demons had POSSESSED this man and the man couldn’t shake them. The way we say it is, “the man had demons.” But what we really mean is, “the demons had this man.” He was POSSESSED.
What happens next is a bit tricky to navigate. “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?’ I beg you, do not torment me.”
It’s not completely clear who’s speaking here. Is it the demon or the man?
If it’s the demon who is speaking, “What have you to do with me?” the answer is, “I have come to destroy you and cast you into the abyss, where I myself will shortly descend to announce to you WITH A LOUD VOICE, that I have crushed your master’s head, and you shall suffer eternally for all of the suffering you have inflicted.
“And they BEGGED HIM not to command them to depart into the abyss.” “And they BEGGED HIM” to enter a herd of pigs. And He gave them permission. And the ‘UNCLEAN SPIRITS’ possessed the ‘UNCLEAN ANIMALS’ and drowned themselves. Literally, they CHOCKED in the sea, which is the ABYSS.
JESUS DOESN’T NEGOTIATE WITH DEMONS.
But if it’s the man who asks, “what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you do not torment me,” the answer is, “I have not come to TORMENT YOU or to add more chains and shackles to bind you. I have come to deliver you and set you free from your demons and give you your life back. “I have come to proclaim… liberty to the captives… to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18)
It is the same for us. It is the same for you, Cianan.
Our Lord has come down from heaven and sailed across the baptismal sea to you who were born in chains, bound to the devil and his demons, destined to live forever among the tombs.
He has broken the bonds and opened the prison and set you free from your demons. He has made you His own possession and you now possess Him.
He has given you His NAME to call upon and His WORD to use when the demons hassle you, AS THEY WILL constantly throughout your life.
HIS IS A NAME that is above every name, that at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ, all the demons fall to their knees and start begging.
HIS IS A WORD that no devil or demon can stand against because it is filled with the ‘breath of God’ which fills the demons with terror even as it fills you with God’s peace.
The Psalmist asks, “How does a young man keep his way pure?” Answer. “By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9). Cianan, keep the name of Jesus holy by calling upon it in every trouble. And learn His Word so that you can use it against the demons that will always be trying to get a foot hold in your soul. Apart from His Name and His Word, it’s like a spider web against a freight train.
As it turns out there was an audience that witnessed everything that happened. The herdsmen whose pigs were now at the bottom of the sea saw it all. And they FLED to the city and told everyone what happened. And everyone went out to the GRAVEYARD to see for themselves.
Imagine their surprise when they found the man SITTING AT THE FEET OF JESUS.
Like a little kitten.
Like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus soaking up every word that comes from His mouth.
Like water for a parched and weary soul.
Like a prisoner just pardoned who had no hope of ever being free.
CLOTHED. So where did he get the clothes? “And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (Gen.3:21).
And IN HIS RIGHT MIND. He now knows that this “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” is HIS SAVIOR and LORD, who exercised His power just for HIM – “because HE SAW ME and loves ME and came across the sea just for ME, to bring we out of my graveyard to live with Him in His Father’s house.” HE WAS IN HIS RIGHT MIND.
“Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.”
Like we said, the world has gone MAD. The account opened with concern for this ‘insane man,’ possessed by demons, but now we see the whole community is insane. Christ’s word falls on hard soil and is CHOCKED by the weeds and the demons. It’s insane. But this is why it is so important that the NAME and the WORD of Jesus be spoken and proclaimed and called upon. Because it is the ONLY NAME and the ONLY WORD that has the power to cast out the demons and restore sanity in a world gone mad.
“The man from whom the demons had gone BEGGED that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘return to your home, and declare how much GOD has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much JESUS had done for him.”
What an amazing thing this is. ALL THE PEOPLE begged Jesus to DEPART FROM THEM, and this man BEGGS Jesus to let him come along with him. Here is a man who is IN HIS RIGHT MIND while the rest of the world has gone insane.
Jesus sends him home to declare how much “GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU.” This is the only way to bring sanity to a crazy world. But now that he is in his ‘RIGHT MIND,’ He knows that God has visited him in the flesh, and that Jesus is ‘God with us,’ and he goes and tells everyone how much “JESUS HAS DONE FOR HIM.”
In this RIGHT MINDED MAN, we see a picture of the Christian church. In the midst of a world gone mad and getting madder by the day,
we sit at the feet of Jesus Christ,
clothed in His flesh with which He clothed us in our baptism and feeds us at His table,
in our RIGHT MIND, peacefully, calmly, confidently, listening to His Word, that falls on good soil,
ready to go with Him when He calls,
but heading His commandment to “return home and declare what God has done for you” until He does.
One day, just when we think this world just can’t get any worse, He will sail across the sky, and stand upon the earth. And every eye will see Him. And He will command His holy angels to cast every demon into the abyss, and the earth will quake at the sound of the door to the abyss slamming shut, never to be opened again.
And everyone will be in their RIGHT MIND. And everything will be VERY GOOD. And God will be all in all.