Saved to ServeVol. 25 No. 2 | Jan-Feb 2015
When two men returned home to share how Jesus had delivered them from demons, a door was opened for thousands to hear the gospel in a previously hostile region.
[This story is based on Matthew 8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20; and Luke 8:25–39.]
It was early morning, and Jesus and His companions had just come to shore from a violent night on Galilee. The light of the rising sun touched sea and land as with the benediction of peace.
But no sooner had they stepped upon the beach than they were greeted by a sight more terrible than the fury of the tempest. From some hiding place among the tombs, two madmen rushed upon them as if to tear them in pieces. Hanging about them were parts of chains, broken as they escaped. Their flesh was torn and bleeding where they had cut themselves with sharp stones. Their eyes glared out from long and matted hair. The very likeness of humanity seemed to have been blotted out by the demons that possessed them, and they looked more like wild beasts than like men.
The disciples and their companions fled in terror; but presently they noticed that Jesus was not with them, and they turned to look for Him. He was standing where they had left Him. He who had stilled the tempest, who had before met Satan and conquered him, did not flee before these demons. When the men, gnashing their teeth and foaming at the mouth, approached Him, Jesus raised that hand which had calmed the sea, and the men stood raging but helpless before Him.
With authority He bade the unclean spirits come out of them. His words penetrated the darkened minds of the unfortunate men. They realized dimly that One was near who could save them from the tormenting demons. They fell at the Savior’s feet to worship Him; but when their lips were opened to entreat His mercy, the demons spoke through them, crying vehemently, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most high? I beseech Thee, torment me not.”
Jesus asked, “What is thy name?” And the answer was, “My name is Legion: for we are many.” Using the afflicted men as mediums of communication, they begged Jesus not to send them out of the country. On a nearby mountain, a great herd of swine was feeding. Into these the demons asked to enter, and Jesus consented. Immediately a panic seized the herd; they rushed madly into the lake and perished.
Even the power of demons is under the control of our Savior, and evil is overruled for good.
Meanwhile, a marvelous change had come over the demoniacs. Light had shone into their minds. Their eyes beamed with intelligence. The countenances, so long deformed into the image of Satan, became suddenly mild, the bloodstained hands were quiet, and with glad voices the men praised God for their deliverance.
The keepers of the swine had seen all that had occurred, and they hurried away to publish the news. In fear and amazement the whole population flocked to meet Jesus. The two demoniacs had been the terror of the country. No one had been safe to pass the place where they were; for they would rush upon every traveler with the fury of demons. Now these men were clothed and in their right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, and glorifying the name of Him who had made them whole.
But the people of the region did not rejoice. The manifestation of supernatural power aroused their superstitions and fears. Further calamities might follow from having this Stranger among them. In terror they thronged about Jesus, begging Him to depart. He complied, taking ship at once for the opposite shore. The people of Gergesa were so fearful of endangering their earthly interests that He who had vanquished the prince of darkness before their eyes was treated as an intruder, and the Gift of Heaven was turned from their doors.
But far different was the feeling of the restored demoniacs. They desired the company of their deliverer. In His presence they felt secure from the demons that had tormented their lives and wasted their manhood. As Jesus was about to enter the boat, they kept close to His side, knelt at His feet, and begged Him to keep them near Him, where they might ever listen to His words. But Jesus bade them go home and tell what great things the Lord had done for them.
Here was a work for them to do—to tell of the blessing they had received from Jesus. Great difficulties were sure to beset them in association with their heathen countrymen. And their long isolation from society seemed to have disqualified them for this work. But as soon as Jesus pointed out their duty they were ready to obey. Not only did they tell their own households and neighbors about Jesus, but they went throughout Decapolis, everywhere declaring His power to save, describing how He had freed them from the demons. In doing this work they could receive a greater blessing than if, merely for benefit to themselves, they had remained in His presence. It is in working to spread the good news of salvation that we are brought near to the Savior.
The two restored demoniacs were the first missionaries whom Christ sent to preach the gospel in the region of Decapolis. For a few moments only, these men had been privileged to hear the teachings of Christ. Not one sermon from His lips had ever fallen upon their ears. They could not instruct the people as the disciples were able to do. But they bore in their own persons the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. They could tell what they knew: what they themselves had seen, and heard, and felt of the power of Christ.
This is what everyone can do whose heart has been touched by the grace of God. John, the beloved disciple, wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. . . declare we unto you.” 1 John 1:1–3. As witnesses for Christ, we are to tell what we ourselves have seen and heard and felt. We can tell how we have tested His promise and found the promise true. We can bear witness to what we have known of the grace of Christ. This is the witness for which our Lord calls, and for want of which the world is perishing.
Though the people of Gergesa had not received Jesus, He did not leave them to the darkness they had chosen. They had not heard His words and were ignorant of what they were rejecting. Therefore He again sent the light to them by those to whom they would not refuse to listen.
In causing the destruction of the swine, it was Satan’s purpose to prevent the preaching of the gospel in that region. But this very occurrence roused the whole country as nothing else could have done, and directed attention to Christ. Though the Savior Himself departed, the men whom He had healed remained as witnesses to His power. Those who had been mediums of the prince of darkness became channels of light, messengers of the Son of God. A door was opened to the gospel throughout that region. When Jesus returned to Decapolis, the people flocked about Him, and for three days, thousands from the surrounding region heard the message of salvation.
Even the power of demons is under the control of our Savior, and the working of evil is overruled for good. And souls that have been degraded into instruments of Satan are still—through the power of Christ—transformed into messengers of righteousness, and sent forth by the Son of God to tell what “great things the Lord hath done for thee.”
Adapted from The Desire of Ages, “Peace, Be Still.”
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