The Bible teaches us that Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and that the unbelieving world lies under his sway (1 John 5:19). Those that have not found forgiveness in Jesus Christ are held captive in Satan’s kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13). But the Son of God came into this world “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He with His Divine authority breaks into this dark kingdom and sets captives free.
People try to escape from the bondage of darkness (though they may not realize they are in bondage) by trying to seek pleasure in all sorts of things, but this is useless. Demonic deception offers fake promises and destructive behaviors in our lives. Demonic deception is horrible but it wasn’t always this way. Demonic deception first took place when Satan tempted and deceived Adam and Eve. As a result there will be demonic deception throughout the ages. Only Jesus Christ has the authority to counter this and defeat it. The time is coming in the future when Jesus will reverse the effects of the curse and this will include the destruction of demonic deception. This passage provides a preview of that future event.
Luke 8:26-39 provides the story of a demon-possessed man that was transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. This passage occurs in a series of events that reveal Jesus is Lord. In the previous passage we learnt that Jesus is Lord over disaster (8:22-25), in this passage Jesus is Lord over demons (8:26-39), and then we will see that Jesus is Lord over disease (8:40-48) and death (8:49-56). The key in understanding all of these events is to see that Jesus alone has authority and power to reverse the effects of sin.
In this message there are three stages in Jesus’ encounter with the demon-possessed man. We will see the demonic domination, the divine deliverance, and the determined declaration.
1. DEMONIC DOMINATION
After an eventful trip in the boat (cf. 8:22-25), Jesus and the disciples “sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.” Jesus and the disciples don’t remain in this location very long and the disciples may not have understood why they were there. But we will see in a moment that reason is to show the disciples His power over demons.
As Jesus steps on the land, a man confronts Jesus. This man was naked, lived alone, and was wild. It was not due to any medical conditions. This man was under complete demonic domination. Many people say all sorts of things on the topic of demon possession today. This is a very complex topic, and we need to be careful that we don’t overemphasize it and that we don’t understate it. It is important to know that the majority of the demonic possession occurrences in the Bible happen during the earthly ministry of Jesus. In-fact, there are only two occurrences in all of the Old Testament (1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Kings 22:22) and two in the book of Acts (Acts 16:16 and 19:13). Why so few throughout the Bible and so many in the Gospels? The reason for this is that the presence and preaching of Jesus attracted greater opposition than anyone had ever faced, or ever will face. This is not to say that they are not at work today, they certainty are. But what happened here, and on other occasions was heightened due to the presence of Jesus.
Demonic deception occurs in a number of ways. Here are a few consequences of demonic deception and dominion we see from the example of this man. It leads to shame, slavery, and separation.
The man had been driven by the demons into the desert. There was a time he was among people. No doubt he had family and friends. But once he was given over to demonic deception, it betrayed him and left him with nobody.
This man would not have always been in this condition. But as a result of demonic influence, it has resulted in shame. As he lives all by himself, separate from others, he is naked. He has lost all his dignity.
Finally, the demonic deception had also led this man to a life of slavery. Satan will persuade us that living according to our sinful desires will bring freedom and empowerment. But that is not true. This man is now living a life of bondage to sin and Satan.
By means of demonic deception, people are persuaded that happiness is found in personal pleasure, but it will lead to devastating consequences. Sin promises delight, but produces destruction. In this message we will learn why Christ alone has the authority to save us from sin’s slavery. This man is a picture of lost humanity held captive in the domain of darkness. But all is not helpless. This brings us to the second stage in the encounter Jesus’ had with the demoniac.
2. DIVINE DELIVERANCE
When Jesus approached this man, communicating through this man’s voice, the demons that possessed the man screamed and begged Jesus not to send them to confinement. They said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”. The demons that possessed this man knew who Jesus was and what His authority is capable of.
Jesus does something for this man that no one else could. He delivers him of the demonic domination. Jesus asked the man what his name was, and the reply was “Legion”. This word was used as a name for a band of Roman soldiers that could number up to 6,000 men. The point is that this man was possessed by a great number of demons. After this the demons beg Jesus to not send them to the Abyss. The Abyss is a place of confinement and punishment. The demons know that there will be a final judgment, and that Jesus has the authority to send people there. The thought of judgment made them shutter. Near by was a large heard of pigs numbering around 2000 (cf. Mark 5:13). The demons begged Jesus to send them to the pigs. The demons rushed to the pigs and “the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned” (8:33).
Why did Jesus allow this to happen to the pigs? We can’t be certain, but this serves as a graphic picture of what the demonic life leads to. These unclean animals under demonic domination rush off a cliff and drown in the lake. All who are under the bondage of Satan will one day be cast into the Lake of Fire (cf. Rev. 20:15)
After such an incredible display, the owners of the pigs run into the city and tell the people. A group came to scene and there they found the man sitting at the feet of Jesus delivered from the demons and in his right mind! The people were filled with fear and they asked Jesus to leave their region. Jesus then hoped back in the boat to leave the region. Sadly, the Lordship of Christ was something they rejected. The fact that Jesus delivered this man from the demonic domination reveals that He is Lord over demons. Because Jesus is Lord, He alone has the authority to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
3. DETERMINED DECLARATION
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the transformed man begs Jesus to let him come with Him. He wants to be with Jesus and follow Him. But Jesus doesn’t allow it. Sometimes we have a great idea, but the Lord has others plans. Jesus told him, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (8:39a), so after this he “went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him” (8:39b). Once this man was delivered from the demonic domination, he was transformed. He went from being a prisoner to being a preacher! Jesus wanted him to stay where he was because he had a mission field in his community.
We were not in the same specific situation as this man, but we were once held captive in the domain of darkness. Then by means of the authority of Christ, we were released and then we became His witnesses. This is what the transforming power of Christ’s lordship does in our lives.
In the previous passage Jesus calmed the storm, and this revealed that He is Lord over disaster. In this present passage Jesus released a man from satanic power, revealing that He is Lord over the demonic. From this we learn that there is no power in creation, physical or spiritual, that Jesus isn’t Lord over.
In this message we have learnt that Jesus has the authority to deliver a sinner from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Only Jesus Christ can release us from the bondage of darkness.