Do you ever stop to think about the sights and the sounds of the stories in the bible?
I have recently been thinking about legion (you can find the story in Mark 5:1-18 and Luke 8:27:33). Think about what this would have looked like (maybe not too hard as the man didn’t have any clothes on) but think about how this would have felt for jesus and the disciples as they came into contact with the man. The boat had just landed and they got out, the air would was filled with the acrid smell of pig manure and the sound of pigs snorting, squealing and foraging for food. Amidst this a man approaches them with nothing on, not the average thing you see on Shaftesbury high street, or any high street to that matter.
Their senses were shocked with the intensity of what they saw and smelt. They later learn that this man had been kept under guard, chained hand and foot but the strength of the demons in the man meant he was able to break the chains. Probably just as well they didn’t know that at the time, and I don’t imagine the demoniac gave them a history lesson when he met them. What might that of looked like if he did? Maybe something like this…”Hey Jesus, and you other guys. Sorry about the no clothes thing, I like to be ‘au naturel’. I used to be under guard and chained up but I didn’t like the chain thing, kind of restrictive and chafed my skin. And this is where I live, among the graves, I like the creepy atmosphere.” The conversation never happened.
What did happen when the man saw Jesus? Previously he couldn’t be contained by chains and guards, now he sees Jesus and runs and falls on his knees in front of him, crying out “What do you want with me Jesus son of the most high God?” How did he know Jesus’ name? We don’t see Jesus announcing that he is the son of the most high God, but something in the man recognised who he was, and the authority that he carried. He begged Jesus not to torture him.
I have been in a few situations where deliverance has been necessary and they have not always been pretty and tidy, I don’t imagine this was either. It is not a polite, please can you leave, and oh yes certainly, I’ll lock the door on the way out. This is a confrontation of kingdoms, one of which is infinitely more powerful than the other. That which had taken hold of the man recognised the spiritual dynamic that was going on. He who could not be contained was now being confronted by the word incarnate, the word made flesh, the image of the invisible God, the one who was both God and man; Jesus. But what was happening was not because he was God, but because he was a man filled with the Holy Spirt, a man who looked to the Father and did what he saw Him doing. It says in Philippians that Jesus did not take advantage of his Status as God, but humbled himself and became a man. The miracles Jesus did were as a man full of the Holy Spirit, not as the creator of the Universe, by not taking advantage of His status we too have hope that we can walk as Jesus did, and see the same as Jesus did
But getting back to our story, the man recognised who Jesus was and fell to his knees shouting at the top of his voice for Jesus not to torture him, Jesus has just commanded the evil spirit to come out (the Greek word used here is where we get the word exorcism). The wording in Mark has an exclamation mark at the end of Jesus’ words, seemingly to emphasise His tone and the strength of how he communicated, it wasn’t a timid command.
The scene is not quiet and tranquil. Jesus asks the man his name. You might be thinking that this is not the best time to be getting acquainted him, but Jesus is not actually asking the man his name but the demon! The Jewish people had a certain degree of understanding about the practice of deliverance. They would ask the demons name and then command the demon by name to come out. This is why the deliverance of the mute man was so significant (but that’s a whole other message). Jesus is now talking to the demons in the man, in fact he has probably been taking to them all along. The man says ‘my name is legion for we are many’, you kind of imagine him saying it in a deep voice. Don’t get upset, I am not trying to make fun of what is a serious matter, but I am trying to get you to think about what was happening. A legion could be anything up to approximately 6000 in number though different sources have different amounts, so this man was riddled with demons. Yet at the sight of Jesus they fall to the ground begging for mercy, such is the power of the one
He begged Jesus not to send him out of the area. We sometimes talk about territorial spirits, and depending on which side of the tracks you come from this is entirely plausible or completely whacky. But let me point something out, The Kingdom of God is about territory and land, spiritual territory land in you and me. When someone gets delivered, his kingdom has come and land has been taken, when someone gets saved his kingdom has come, He will eventually take all territory when his kingdom comes in all its fullness….he is coming for territory and will depose the powers and authorities that stand in his way. The journey of the Israelites into the promised land illustrates the Kingdom of God coming in ours and others lives (to a degree his coming Kingdom will influence land as well, there are promises that still stand for the land of Israel that cannot be ‘spiritualised’ but there isn’t enough room here to discuss this here). So the demons beg to be allowed to stay in the area, and they ask to go into the local herd of pigs, they know that Jesus has the authority to command them out to wherever He desires, they are fully submitted to Him.
Jesus sends them into the herd which is numbered at 2000 pigs, that’s 3 demons per pig. Pigs are noisy anyway. You add some demons into the mix and the noise is going to ear splitting. Think about it, 2000 demonised pigs who are now running. It says that they rushed down a steep bank in to the sea. This wasn’t a polite, after you Claude, no after you. This would have been a frantic running, stampede (if pigs do stampede) into the sea. The noise would have been ear splitting. The there was quiet, the air was still, the sea was calm, the man was in his right mind. The overt demonisation and corresponding extreme behaviour was finished. Peace. The prince of peace had come and brought his ruling to one who had organised chaos manifesting violently. This man was now still and in his right mind, for there is nothing that the kingdom of God once it posses’ it cannot redeemed. When his presence comes into a situation everything changes. Where there is frantic behaviour and disorder, where there are tensions and stress, he brings peace and stillness. For He is the prince of peace.
The contrast of noise and commotion and stillness is stark. The herdsmen who had been watching were afraid, they had never seen anything like this and they rushed into the nearby town to tell everyone what had happened. When something like this happens you cannot help but talk about it, for they had seen a heaven and hell confrontation right before their eyes.
People from the town return and see the man in their right mind, their lack of insight into the kingdom means they don’t want this in their area, the status quo had been shaken, their means of making money has disappeared into the sea.
When Jesus walks into the room everything changes, hopeless situations change, demons bow down, minds are restored, people are set free to live in the fullness that they were destined to…this is the kingdom of God manifest on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord let me be so full of your Spirit and your word, that when I step into a room the atmosphere changes to the fragrance of heaven, let people be set free, healed and delivered and transformed as followers of you.