Not Even the Devil Himself
|video.pbs.org (Google Images)|
In Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8, we have the story of the demon-possessed man who had terrorized the neighbourhood to the point that the residents tried to chain him in in the cemetery. One account describes two men being in this condition. Matthew 8:25b tells us: “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” Jesus chose this spot to land the boat he was traveling in. He had an appointment.
The presence of the demons had driven these men crazy, literally. Even the chains and shackles could not hold them. Mark 5:5, describing one of the men, tells us that “Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”
What a miserable life!
Then Jesus arrived on the scene.
The demons obviously held these men in a powerful grip. That makes what happened in the story all the more amazing. When Jesus appeared we find one man in the posture of worship. “When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him” (Mark 5:6). The demons that drove this man to shatter his chains, to rage, to cry, to cut himself with stones, were not strong enough to keep him from running to the only One who could deliver him.
We meet people who are so bound by Satan that we doubt that there is any hope of redemption for them. Wrong! It doesn’t get any worse than what was happening to this man in the cemetery, but God can break through any barrier. When Jesus first made His appearance on the public scene in Israel, He quoted the Old Testament to describe the mission He had come to complete.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19). In this poor soul that mission was about to be fulfilled.
How did the demon-possessed man know who Jesus was? We assume that cut off from society as he was, and without the benefit of a cell phone or the internet, any information about a new teacher in the area would not have come his way. But the demons knew who Jesus was Luke 8:28). Could it be that their terror at Jesus’ arrival gave this poor soul enough information to produce in him sufficient strength to defy even Satan and to send him flying to fall at the Lord’s feet in worship?
Jesus often told the demons He cast out to not speak about Him. That kind of promotion was not what He wanted. But, in this case, even if “the-devil-made-him-do-it,” it was a good thing. When Jesus came the desperate years of being under the domination of evil fell away as surely as the chains that had held this man captive.
But we need to know that Jesus did not arrive on this isolated, rocky shore by accident. We need to understand that, no matter how strong the grip of evil, God’s power is greater. Jesus came for this man and not even Satan was strong enough to keep him away.
This passage contains a key phrase that we need to remember. Luke 8:32 says “…he gave them permission.” The reference is to the plea of the demons that were being cast out of the man to go into a herd of pigs that were feeding nearby (Even the demons didn’t want to go back to hell! vs. 31). But they couldn’t go unless the Son of God gave them permission.
There is no bondage from which Jesus cannot free men.
There is no sin so great that the blood of Christ cannot cover it.
There is no evil that can hold a man back who truly wants what God offers.
There is no one so bad that the Saviour cannot restore.
There is no demon who can resist God's power or thwart His purposes.
When the people from the region arrived at the cemetery “they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they rejoiced and also fell at Jesus’ feet” (Mark 5:15). Not quite. The truth is, “…they were afraid.” In fact, they ask Jesus to go away (5:17).
That was a pity. But still, even though Jesus left the area, He left behind a witness—the ex-demon-possessed man (5:18-20)! As long as this man lived, he was a living, breathing testimony to the grace and mercy of God, to the truth that not even Satan himself can keep a man out of the Kingdom that Jesus had come to establish in the hearts of men.