What comes to your mind when you read or hear about the story of Jesus healing the man possessed with many demons –the one we often refer to as the story about “Legion”? For me, it was one of those wonderful stories that took place “back in Bible times” –in a faraway time and place. Although I totally accepted it as factual since it’s a part of God’s word, it fit better in my imagination along with children’s tales because I couldn’t relate it to the times and places in my own life.
Here it is as recorded in Luke chapter eight.
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke–&1:26-39)
I was reading the account again recently and realized that it wasn’t nearly as distant as I thought. Rather, I found myself as one of the central characters. Do you remember the name of the man who was inhabited by Legion? Indeed, he is only known as “the man” –a generic name that allows each of us to apply our own name. With your forbearance, I would like to re-tell this story as it relates to me in today’s perspective –and hopefully you will find that it equally relates to you.
As “the man,” I was a horrendous, out-of-control sinner –not merely a lost soul, but a person who searched out and practiced many destructive ways. Through parents, teachers, church sermons and helpful Christians, I heard the Law –and it tried to bind me so that I wouldn’t hurt myself or others. But it was ineffective –it could not keep my fallen nature in check. My very existence was among the dead –I was without life and without God. And the people I called friends were equally dead. Spiritually, I stood naked while I showed off my rebellious ways. My sin –my unrighteousness– was fully exposed to God, to others and especially to me. I had no house –no shelter to protect me from the Prince of this world.
But let’s back up. The beginning of the story opens before Legion was involved –before he was even born. It began with Jesus traveling by boat across the water. Literally, He was “fellow-shipping” –meaning He was gathered together with friends (in the same ship) who shared a common life and common purpose (the same destination port). Then Jesus came to him –face-to-face– and he understood the Good News.
One day I realized it was Jesus who wanted my life to be joined with His. With a humble heart, I received Him. It was then that He freed me from the control of my demons. He completely clothed me in His righteousness. He gave me the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth and to continually renew my mind. He made me a member of the household of God. And now I want to be with Him forever. But, like His words to “the man,” He has asked me to remain here and tell you how much God has done for me. So now, here I am, telling all who read and listen what Jesus has done and continues to do for me.
Maybe you’ve wondered about those demons that He cast out. They’re still around –in those who are perishing. Their leaders –the religious leaders of our time– are angered by Jesus and His followers that preach the Gospel.
Please take a look at the subjects here on myredeemer.org. They are intended to cause you to question your beliefs so that you might ask God to reveal the fullness of His Son to you. God’s goal has always been to develop a relationship of trust (faith) with each one of us. It’s all based on Jesus –His life, death and resurrection. He gave all He had for us to experience eternal life with Him. And that life doesn’t start when we die –it’s here –it’s now. Let’s praise God today for His loving kindness endures forever!