Demoniacs in Gadara

Matthew 8: 28-34
Gen 21:5 8-20 / Psa 34

Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
(Matthew 8:34)

Remain faithful in Jesus’ name,
And all of Satan’s schemes will fail;
Evil can never stake a claim
Where God’s works in our life prevail.

When Jesus arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 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. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8: 28-34)

Reflection

After demonstrating His power over the forces of nature by calming the tempest at sea, Jesus now showed His authority over the forces of evil by driving out the evil spirits from the two demoniacs in Gadara. The paradox in today’s Gospel passage however is that while the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God, acknowledged His power and judgment over them, and immediately obeyed Him by releasing the two demoniacs from their power, the people of Gadara, who had witnessed this victory over evil, chose to reject Jesus and His mission. The most probable explanation for this rejection could be because the influence of the evil spirits had become so pervasive in that place that the salvation Jesus wanted to preach was no longer relevant to them. The influence of Satan can be so strong that the Word of God will only fall on deaf ears due to the people’s materialism, selfishness, or false doctrines. Many people today share the same misplaced priorities in life as those natives of Gadara. They do not see how fortunate they are to be rid of evil influences in their community, like gambling and prostitution. On the other hand, there are those who welcome other forms of evil like vigilante killings as a “necessary” antidote to crime.

Actual demon possession still happens today among those who indulge in spiritism and practice the occult. They believe in channeling, and in communicating with the spirits of the dead. But as early as the time of Moses, man has always been warned about these evil influences. “There shall not be found among you any one that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord.” (Deut.18:10-12) But in spite of numerous testimonies in Scriptures, many still deny the existence of devils and eternal damnation, having been deceived by Satan that God in His goodness would never allow the existence of hell. These people would be well advised to heed the wisdom of C. S. Lewis, who said, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall in our thinking about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe in their existence but to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” Believe that Satan exists, but never believe him, because he is the prince of lies. Our faith is firmly established on the Word of God, and we will never be deceived. We are so fortunate who live and believe in the Word of God, because it has become the rule of our life. No evil spirit can take possession, as long as we have subordinated ourselves to the designs of the Holy Spirit.

Father God, deliver us from the influence of evil spirits; keep us always in Your light by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the Word of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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