They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes (v1)
So Jesus and the disciples made a trip to the other side of Lake Galilee, and what happened while they were there?
Oddly, not very much at all. Jesus had just this one encounter with a demon-possessed man, and then he went back across the river.
So Jesus made some strange choices. He chose to go to the other side. Then he chose to help this demon-possessed man and then when the townspeople asked him to leave he chose to leave immediately. And that’s it. That’s all that happened in the country of the Gerasenes.
So, you know if you where Jesus’ pa or his agent, let’s say … you might say, that was all a bit of a waste of time; that it wasn’t a very productive use of time or energy. The disciples could have just stayed on the other side of Lake Galilee, where the crowds were waiting to see Jesus.
Not only was it unproductive, but it was also unpleasant. Horrible really.
v2 – and when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him.
Now this man was roaming around outside of the town, homeless really, and people had tried to chain him up, but he would break through the chains. It seems that the demons had given him a kind of super-human strength … which is scary, because the man is violent.
v5 – Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and (not just bruising) but cutting himself with stones
So he’s a dangerous, aggressive, self-harming man … he’s dirty, often naked, (he has 2000 demons in him). And when Jesus casts them out the townspeople freak out and they begged Jesus to leave … which is not surprising, if we were to just consider what happened, in v13 …
Jesus sent the demons into 2000 screaming pigs, who ran down the hill and drowned themselves in the river. I mean can you imagine how loud and how horrible that would be to watch … Why did Jesus choose to make it so dramatic, when we know, he could have just told them to be silent and go away quietly? He’s making a scene of his power and of the spirit world …
And the people who see it just freak out, and in v14 they ask him to leave.
For sure they were thinking, why have you come here? Why did you have to talk to the crazy man? Why did you have to cause a scene?
Have you ever found yourself asking God these kinds of questions? When you think about your own experience in ministry (because we are all ministers) … have you ever found yourself asking:
Why do I have to deal with this person?
Why do I have to go there?
Every now and again I just want to scream at God … Why can’t I just have a normal life? But seriously, who wants to have a normal life … when the Spirit of God is in you and you have been given the power and authority to set people free in Jesus’ name!
Jesus wants us to face the shadows! How else can we bring light to the world, if we don’t go the dark places?
We are a courageous people, and there is nothing we can’t face …
The story of the Gerasene demoniac shows us three things we can face when we are in Christ:
- Face difficult people
- Face difficult places
- Face spiritual warfare
Face the difficult people
The guy in this story is difficult to be around. In fact he’s dangerous to be around.
I remember my sister used to live down the road from a man who was a lot like this. He lived in a derelict house that had no roof and no furniture. He never showered … and every few days he would go into a rage of screaming, which sometimes went for hours … and he would be screaming as though he was being tortured. Every few weeks the police would pick him up and take him to hospital for sedation, a shower and a shave. Then he’d be back on the street corner, yelling abuse at people, and mostly at himself.
And my sister and I would ask ourselves, ‘Why can’t he be on medication? Why isn’t he getting any medical care?’ We basically felt powerless, like there was nothing we could do …
So I avoided him. I’d walk the long way to get to her house so that I didn’t have to go past him … and every time the screaming started I’d think, ‘oh that’s sad, but there’s nothing I can do about it. Really I just wish someone would take him away.’
It’s moments like these that test our faith yeah? Do I really believe that I am powerless to help? Don’t I believe that Jesus has the power to fix any situation?
Do you know what I would do now? I’d get someone to go with me, and I would walk right on up to him, and pray for him. I would face up to it .. Who here thinks that’s crazy? What’s the worst that could happen? (nothing)
Let me tell you something, I am not afraid. I know the power of God. I’ve seen what he can do and that miracles still happen. Even the demons submit to him.
Let’s have a look at v6, When he [the demon-possessed man] saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down to him ..” Now that’s straight up weird … demons don’t usually go and bow down and worship Jesus …
and then the man shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you by God, Don’t torment me.” For Jesus was saying, “Come out of the man unclean spirit.”
You see, what’s happening here is that even as Jesus is getting out of the boat, he’s responding to this situation. He’s proactive. Before the guy even speaks to him, he’s already telling the demons to come out! He’s right in there … and as Christians we have to be right in there …
We talk to the difficult people, we pray with them, we go there and we ..
Face the difficult places
You know when Jesus pulled up to the outskirts of town where all the dead people are buried … he could have just passed by and popped into town for a coffee and met the locals … but he didn’t pass by.
He went to the place where this tragedy was hidden away.
As a young, female minister I don’t have a lot of female role models that I can look to and say, ‘I wanna be like her, or I wanna preach like her.’ But there is one woman pastor in America who I do just love and her name is Annie Lobert. She planted a church called, ‘Hookers for Jesus.’ She’s a modern day example of this story.
Annie was a highly paid prostitute in Las Vegas, and her story goes that when she gave her life to Jesus, she experienced a deliverance, in which she describes a legion of demons coming out of her (just like the Gerasene demoniac). Now she brings the gospel to sex workers. So I want to show you a nightline report now, of how she goes to the difficult places …
(you tube clip)
The thing that I love about Annie Lobert is that she’s actually only ministering in her hometown. She’s spreading the gospel in the world that she came from, which is exactly what Jesus asks the Gerasene demoniac to do. When he begs Jesus to let him follow him, Jesus says no (v19), ‘I want you to witness here. Go to your home and tell your hometown what I did for you.’
We all come from a difficult place. You don’t have to be a drug addict or a prostitute to know what it’s like to be in a dark place.
In fact, let’s imagine that this room represents the Australian population (it doesn’t, but it will give us a rough estimate)
One in six of the men are currently depressed
One in five of the women have experienced domestic violence
One in ten of us are drinking alcohol at a high risk level
One in three women and one in four men have been sexually abused
In fact we are all living in the difficult places. Do we just pass by? Do we ignore it? Do we say those problems are too big for us … now we do not. We are going there with people, and as we do that, we will …
Face up to spiritual warfare
We know, as the bible tells us, that because of our sin, the world belongs to Satan … and we know he has an army … and that there are legions of demons in this world and they’re everywhere … now, if this is not something you’re very familiar with then let me just suggest that you try to forget everything you’ve ever seen depicted in Hollywood films about this, because it’s hugely unhelpful …
And just for now, just know this … that one of the things Jesus has commissioned us to do, is to take authority against ungodly spirits in his name.
Some Christians never pray in this way, and there are two main reasons people have:.
1. It’s unproductive
2. It’s unpleasant
And these are both criticisms you could make of Jesus’ trip to the country of the Gerasenes.
It’s a waste of time. It takes the focus off the main game. It’s a distraction from preaching the gospel … and it’s basically a world we don’t really want to know about … because it’s not very nice.
The man Jesus freed in the country of the Gerasenes, he wouldn’t say it was unproductive. He would be grateful that Jesus went into the dark place for him.
Because there’s nothing Jesus won’t face for us … he endured the shadows for us … and so we can boldly go there and say, “I’m not afraid”
I will face the difficult people
I will face the difficult places
I will face the demonic
… and I am not afraid, because Jesus is on my side … and even the demons submit to him.
Invitation to a time of private prayer
Ask the Lord to show you the people and the places where he wants you to serve
Ask him for courage
Ask him to remind you of the power of the Holy Spirit in you