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 townsfolk had a shock when farm-hands, who had been looking after a large herd of pigs, came running with the news. All the pigs had drowned in the lake (Luke 8:32-33) . Their owners came to the water’s edge to see for themselves, and to confront Jesus who had apparently destroyed their businesses. The pigs were both capital assets and revenue, as the meat and hides were traded outside of Israel (Jews would not be associated with these animals in any way).
Apart from a silent hillside and porcine carcasses floating in the water, the farmers and their worried investors also saw Jesus sitting next to the formerly demonised man. This man had been banished from society because of his violent behaviour and naked terrorism of the locals (Luke 8:29); now he was quiet and willing to listen to the Man who had rescued him from Satan’s grip.
You might have thought that this miracle would have thrilled the people who used to be terrified of the man’s unpredictable behaviour. But, no! They were more concerned about their loss of money through a trade in which godly Jews would never participate (1 Timothy 6:9-10). They were more afraid of Jesus’ power to expel evil than they had been of the terrible effects of evil in this man. They thought that the evil was contained by isolating the man away from their town. They were content to try to manage their relationship with demons but did not want to be delivered from them.
It is the same today. Human beings want to be in control, and they get frightened if anybody else (especially God) demonstrates a superior power. Power in business, in trading and money markets give the illusion that we are king, or queen. Academic pride, manufacturing efficiency and construction triumphs all encourage the same fantasy. But when they are stripped away, we have a choice; do we want Jesus to be in command? If so, He will want to deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13). And that is very good news… if that is what we want too!
Almighty God. Thank You for the astonishing authority which Jesus demonstrated against the powers of Satan. Thank You that evil must release its grip in Jesus’ presence. Please forgive me for wanting to be in control when that is Your job; and for listening to the devil’s lies, allowing him hidden space to operate in my life as I pursue my own ambitions. May I learn that a soul committed to Jesus is of far greater value than all the success, wealth and fame I can imagine; and help me to set my course today, with the intention of allowing Jesus to be King. In His Name. Amen.