RESCUED FROM THE GRAVEYARD
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16&17)
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts (Matthew 8:28-34).
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel (Mark 5:1-20).
And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him (Luke 8:26-39).
This case here is of significance because the chosen habitation of these two men possessed by devils is a cemetery outside the city, a place for the burial of the dead. These two victims suffered immense torment as living souls living among the dead. Luke and Mark mentioned of one man in this condition while Matthew recorded the actual number to be two. It was not clear whether Luke and Mark described the plight of each one of the two or the same victim of the two, but the fact remained that the victims here were living in horrid circumstances abandoned by men.
According to Luke’s account the men had been living among the tombs for a long time. They were not simply there for a certain period during the day and then retire under shelter of a home during the night. They were exposed to the elements of nature and their plight made worse for the fact that they were living by their skins with no clothes on their bodies. The heat of the scorching sun would be piercing them by day and the cold chilly night would be tearing at their sun burnt bodies at night. One would shrink to imagine the unforgiving environment when winter arrived! It would be amazing that these two poor souls could have endured such devilish punishments for so long.
What terrible state they were in and who would pity them in such a place where no living souls abode! In fact what little pity shown to them by the people was to bind them in chains and fetters out of concerned for public safety. What kindness from fallen men whose assistance to these two men was one motivated out of self-preservation. But how useless carnal human means that severely underestimated the power of darkness. Chains and fetters were no match for devilish beings. How silly for fallen men to attempt to tame the captives of devils with human means!
Where were the religious priests and scribes who had been holding sway in the lives of the people with their religious creeds and dogmas on spiritual matters? Could not they convene a council to examine the matter as their high calling and religious training should have equipped them for their professions? Could not they do something for these two men agonizing in devilish torture? Could not they allay the fear of those sane souls who had to use the way to the cemetery that was now made impassable? So dogmatism in theological discourses for the religious circles had no practical application in the frontline of a real spiritual war. It became brutally obvious that the religious leaders of the day were spiritually impotent in a real spiritual conflict. No “faith-healers” dared ventured beyond their crowd and circles of influence to lift a finger to alleviate the sufferings to these two poor men. So the cemetery remained closed and no man could pass that way, no, not until God in the flesh came by that day!
So as Mark reported, the victims here were slowly but surely being tormented and would eventually be put to death by means that included self-mutilation with stones. How horrific was the sufferings of these two poor souls served on dishes of devilish delights! Alas, there was hope for these two poor tormented souls for Jesus passed by that day. While eyes of sinful men cannot behold the glory of God, devilish beings would not fail to recognize this King of glory whose majestic presence though clothed only in human garb struck fear in these devils no matter how fearful and terrifying they were to fallen men. Again, the Son of God was not there to receive worship from devils that day but to deliver men from the power of darkness into his marvelous light.
The unmistakable cries and pleadings of these devils betrayed their temporal power over the bodies of these sons of men that pointed to their eventual doom in the deep. They had an appointed spokesman speaking through the vessel of their choice and they revealed that they were many whose name was Legion. Their requests were not to be tormented in the deep before their time but to seek alternative accommodations and their next best choice happened to be a herd of swine feeding not too far away.
What a choice! What poor choice, one might think! Amazing indeed that devils should choose lowly and unclean animals when no suitable candidates were available. Certainly they could not have asked for other human bodies of any of the men present with the Lord’s entourage knowing that their request would surely be denied. So there and then ended their funs for they could not possibly use the vessels of swine to demonstrate their incredible power to taunt and spite fallen mortal men for their spiritual impotency. Though with permission granted by the Lord, unfortunately, it was a suicidal attempt to possess the vessels of these unclean beasts. Although these devils being unclean spirits themselves, they had no affinity with unclean beasts. The beasts soundly rejected them as they chose to perish in the waters of the sea than to accommodate these guests from hell. This caused no small stir as about two thousand pigs perished as a result of devilish madness. What economic devastation to the owners thereof!
Once again, deliverance was immediate and done without hands. Faith from the two victims was not required as a precondition for their healing. But for the long imprisoned souls of these two unfortunate victims, sweet and sure deliverance was theirs to keep. Once raged with madness, they were now found with soundness of mind sitting at Jesus’ feet. Long been tormented on their naked bodies, they were now clothed and comforted at the presence of the Savior and seeking to follow him. Hellish nightmare became history and they walked in newness of life proclaiming the loving kindness and tender mercies of God Almighty. Indeed God had done great things for them whereof they were glad. Once again, there was power in the spoken words of God. Jesus did not need to lift a finger when dealing with the forces of darkness. Jesus must be God manifest in the flesh!
Unfortunately for fallen men, depravity had the better of Adam’s race. For commercial reasons, the people preferred these two victims remained possessed by devils than deliverance from on high. Personal gains came before other’s plight. How selfish and insane were lost men dead in trespasses and sins! Wherein may compassion be found in lost humanity? Indeed just like Solomon had said, To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress (Proverbs 28:21). So these belly worshippers bade Jesus leave their coasts so that they may walk on in darkness rearing swine than to behold the glory of God and be fed with the bread of eternal life.
This article is taken from a chapter in the book “When Heaven Is Brass” which may be downloaded via: