I am going to challenge you to be open minded with what you are about to read. You may think you know the story, and you may have heard it hundreds of time s before, but therein lies the danger of scripture. Once you hear it, you may think that you know the whole story…but wait there’s more! As you read on remember not to rush through these words, instead give the story a chance to expand your mind and understanding of Jesus. One way to do this is to empty the mindset you have about Jesus completely. Try putting yourself there in the moment with Jesus as one of the Apostles while the following story takes place. It really changes the way you think about Jesus if you are able to do this. Good luck!
One of my favorite scriptures is Luke 8:22-39. This is when Jesus boards a vessel with His Apostles and leaves Capernum and heads into the middle of the Sea of Galilee, then lands on the shores of Gergesa. During this time many things happen. This is when Jesus calms the storm in the middle of the sea, then lands on a seashore where a possessed man approaches him, and then gets healed by Jesus. But so much is happening in this scripture passage that it is necessary to slow things down a bit to really understand what happened…and just how cool Jesus really is!
It is important to understand that there was always a spiritual dialogue going on between Jesus and those he came into contact with, even when he was not speaking. There was a never ending spiritual battle happening all around Jesus in an attempt to kill Him, literally…both physically and spiritually. Think about this for a second, if Jesus dies before he can complete His mission, then the devil wins. If however, Jesus completes the mission God has set Him on, then we all win!
When Jesus enters the boat with His Apostles in Capernum, He says, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake”. His Apostles think nothing of it and get in the boat with Him and head out to sea, but Jesus already knows what they are about to face, and what needs to happen. Unbeknownst to the Apostles, they are about to face a great storm that will attempt to take all their lives – including the life of Jesus – so they cannot reach their destination.
Why would they get in the boat in the first place?
But wait a second…weren’t the Apostles all seasoned fishermen and sailors? Yes! So that means they did not see the storm approaching until they were in the middle of the sea and there was nowhere to go for safety. At least they thought there was no safety. Little did they know…
As they sail into the sea, Jesus goes to sleep while the Apostles are more than likely discussing the amazing things they have seen Jesus do in Capernum. Large crowds were already following Him, so large in fact that even His own Mother was not able to get near Him. It appears that Jesus is in need of a rest when He heads out to sea with the Apostles, but rest is the last thing you would remember about this journey if you were there with Jesus at the time.
All of a sudden, a huge storm stirs up while Jesus is asleep. The storm is so treacherous and dangerous that the Apostles, who were all men of great sailing ability and knowledge, become so frightened for their lives that they wake Jesus up in a major panic. They start yelling to Jesus that they are about to die because the storm is about to capsize the boat. They tell Jesus they are taking on too much water from the storm and they are in fear of sinking. Jesus however, is so incredible cool that He says, “Be still…peace” to the storm and immediately the massive storm ceases to his command. We are told in scripture that “Suddenly a great calm came over the sea and over the Apostles.” This is not just figurative language…the Apostles were safe in Jesus’ presence and they knew it.
His Apostles are so amazed at what they just observed that they start to look at Jesus quite differently…they still don’t quite understand who they are sailing with, but they know something is completely and utterly different with Jesus than anyone else they have ever seen or known. Jesus also asks His Apostles why they were afraid and why they are of such little faith.
Then they sail a bit more and end up on the shores of Gergesa. Immediately as Jesus sets foot on the shore they see a “thing” coming toward them from the tombs. It appears to be a man, but he is completely naked with cuts all over himself. As he gets closer and closer they are able to make out more details about him. He is very hairy, sweating, bleeding, and he has chains – shackles – around his wrists and ankles which he has broken in half in an attempt to get to Jesus. He runs full speed at Jesus screaming at the top of his lungs, and before any of the Apostles are able to get out of the boat to protect Jesus, this man falls at the feet of Jesus and acknowledges who Jesus is. The man says, “What do you want from us Jesus, Son of the God most high. I beg of you, do not torture us!” Before Jesus even says one work aloud, this demonic possessed man has already had a conversation with Jesus on a spiritual level.
Jesus already knows the answer to this question, but he still asks “What is your name.” The demons answer and say “We are Legion, for we are many.” See, there was not just one demon possessing this man, in fact there were so many that a legion of demons were possessing him. For just a second, it’s important to understand what a legion is. A legion is Rome was a unit of elite fighting soldiers of about 5,000 men. It would be similar to a brigade in today’s military. A lot of elite spiritual fighters are inside this man!
Don’t be fooled by the chaos the devil creates. Even though it may appear that the devil is chaotic, he is actually very well organized and knows what he is doing when he brings chaos into your life. These demons knew Jesus was in the boat and hoped they would be able to turn Him away from the shore. But Jesus is too cool for that. He not only gets through the storm, he calms the chaos and smoothly sails right onto the shore where the possessed man lives. In fact, Jesus literally puts the fear of God into this possessed man, who begs and pleads for Jesus not to torture him. The demons are interested in staying right where they are and not leaving the location.
It’s all about location, location, location. The devil wants to remain in that territory, whether he is in possession of this one man or not, he does not want to give up this location. An important thing to know is that they are standing in Gentile country. Proof of this is because there is a herd of pigs nearby, which no Jewish farmer would have as pigs were considered unclean animals and no Jews owned them or herded them in any way. So they are in a spiritual battle over the location…they are fighting for the territory! The devil and his demons are basically begging Jesus to let them have the Gentiles while Jesus can have the Jews.
Jesus doesn’t fall for it!
The demons ask Jesus to at least let them go into the herd of pigs nearby because they do not think anything will happen to them if they are in this animal…they consider it untouchable since the animal is considered unclean. The legion of demons is trying to outsmart Jesus…they think that if they are in the pigs, Jesus will not be able to kill them because He would make Himself unclean by touching the pigs as is written in the Jewish custom of the day. But Jesus is much too smart for that. So to play along in this spiritual game of cat and mouse, Jesus does remove the legion of demons from the man and sends them into the herd of pigs, but that’s not where this story ends. The demons thought that since they were in an untouchable animal they were safe, but instead, Jesus sends the pigs down a cliff and into the sea where they die from drowning.
Ok, get ready to get your mind blown…the same legion of demons that tried to drown Jesus in the chaos of the storm have in fact just drowned in the same sea that Jesus calmed. Jesus is incredibly cool! Mic drop – thank you very much – I’ll be here for eternity…Jesus!
Why is this important? Jesus was showing the Apostles that God’s love is not only for the Jews, but for everyone. In fact, the man Jesus heals begs to go with Jesus as He gets ready to depart Gergesa, but Jesus does not allow this to happen. Why? Jesus tells the man that instead of coming with him on the ship, he is to go back to the town and tell of the power of God’s love and how it has saved his soul!
I’m glad Jesus is on my side! Jesus shows the perfect example of the type of leadership we are supposed to be striving for. Fearless, bold, and powerful, yet still calm during the chaotic times in our lives. That calmness only comes by having faith in Jesus and trusting that even in the storms we face, Jesus will be there to calm the storm if we simply ask for His guidance and help. The beauty of the story of Jesus is that because He left us the Holy Spirit to be with us at all times, we all have access to use God’s power to glorify God…not ourselves. We have the power to move mountains within us and when we give all the glory to God, that power becomes very accessible. Game Over!
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