God is great. Nothing is impossible for Him. Jesus shows us how great God is and what a good mood God is in.
Imagine this. One day Jesus arrives in the country of Gerasenes by boat. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he always broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones. This is one terrifying dude. See him on the street and you are definitely crossing over to the other side.
When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)
Jesus asked him to tell Him his name. He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country. A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.”
Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned. Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.
Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Jesus is in control, always. There is no nasty demon that He can’t send packing. They obey him and we must know it.
“What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Mk 5:9–10). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Mark 5 tells of three requests: the demons requested that Jesus send them into the pigs; the citizens requested that Jesus leave the area; and one of the former demoniacs requested that Jesus allow him to follow Him. Our Master granted the first two requests but not the third one.
Did Jesus have the right to destroy 2,000 pigs and possibly put their owners out of business? If these men were Jews, then they had no right to be raising and selling unclean pigs anyway. However, this was Gentile territory, so the owners were probably Gentiles.
Jesus was free to send the demons wherever He desired—into the abyss, into the swine, or to any other place that He chose. Then why send them into the swine? For one thing, by doing it that way, Jesus gave proof to all the spectators that a miracle of deliverance had really taken place. The destruction of the pigs also gave assurance to the two men that the unclean spirits were actually gone. But more than anything else, the drowning of the 2,000 swine was a vivid object lesson to this the Messiah-rejecting crowd that, to Satan, a pig is as good as a man! In fact, Satan will make a man into a pig! The Master was warning the citizens against the powers of sin and Satan. It was a dramatic sermon before their very eyes: “The wages of sin is death!”
The swineherds did not want to be blamed for the loss of the pigs, so they immediately ran to tell the owners what had happened. When the owners arrived at the scene, they were afraid as they beheld the dramatic changes that had taken place in the two men. Instead of running around naked, the men were clothed, seated, and in their right minds. They were new creatures!
Why would the owners ask Jesus to leave? Why not ask Him to stay and perform similar cures for others who were also in need? The owners had one main interest—business—and they were afraid that if Jesus remained any longer, He would do even more “damage” to the local economy! Our Master does not stay where He is not wanted, so He left. What an opportunity these people missed!
Why did Jesus not permit the healed demoniac to follow Him? The man’s request was certainly motivated by love for the Master Jesus, and what a testimony he had! But Jesus knew that the man’s place was in his own home, with his loved ones, where he could bear witness to the Savior. After all, effective Christian living must begin at home where people know us the best. If we honor God there, then we can consider offering ourselves for service elsewhere.
This man became one of the earliest missionaries to the Gentiles. Jesus had to leave, but the man remained and bore faithful witness to the grace and power of Jesus the Messiah. We trust that many of those Gentiles believed on the Savior through his witness.