And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils…
The personality of devils or demons has been called in question, and the examples of demoniacal possession recorded in Scripture have been construed as cases of insanity. But the narrative before us refuses to be thus treated. Here clearly are intelligences who can know, reason, speak, and pray, and who can exist separately from the subject of possession, and after expulsion from men can enter and possess inferior animals. Note -
I. THAT DEVILS ARE FORMIDABLE FOES.
1. They are formidable in power.
(1) This is evident from their appellatives (see Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15).
(2) From their exploits. See the history of Job. Did not Satan transport the body of Jesus from the wilderness to the pinnacle of the temple, and thence to the mountain summit (see Matthew 4:5, 8)?
(3) From the example of these demoniacs. No man could bind them (see Mark 5:3, 4).
2. They are formidable in number.
(1) Else how could they tempt so constantly the 1,400,000,000 living men? Their number must be great if all the wicked men that have died are demons.
(2) Their name is "legion." A Roman legion numbered six thousand men (see Mark 5:9).
(3) Things singly insignificant in numbers become formidable. Frogs and flies in multitudes became Egyptian plagues. In relation to the swarms of demons marshalled by Satan he is called Beelzebub - "Lord of flies."
3. They are formidable in their military order.
(1) This, too, is suggested in the name of "legion." They are officered into principalities, powers, world-rulers of darkness, and spiritual rulers of wickedness in the heavens (see Ephesians 6:12).
(2) They are efficiently marshalled. Some are devils of pride; some of coveteousness; some of sensuality; some of profanity; some of malice. Those who are led by any propensity to evil are possessed by a demon apt to stimulate it. Is your familiar an "unclean spirit"?
4. They are formidable in their inveterate malignity.
(1) They are proud spirits. What but inveterate malignity could induce them to ask leave of God to work mischief?
(2) The more so when they know that for the mischief they work they will incur a terrible retribution. Devils are not yet in hell. Their time of torment is the day of judgment (cf. ver. 29; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 20:1-3, 10).
5. They are formidable because of their passion for enshrinement in humanity.
(1) Out of humanity they are troubled and uneasy (cf. Matthew 12:43). It is "torment" to them to be ejected from humanity (ver. 29).
(2) They prefer enshrinement in the body of a beast to being houseless. Satan enshrined himself in a serpent. These demons. entreated to be allowed to enter into the swine.
(3) They make havoc wherever they crone. The evil disposition of the heart is a tomb in which a demon dwells.
II. DEMONIACAL ASCENDENCY IS DISASTROUS TO HUMANITY.
1. Disastrous because assimilating.
(1) This is more evident in Mark's account, in which the plural and singular are so mingled that it is difficult to know whether the demons or the demoniac speaks (cf. Mark 5:6-10).
(2) This possession is the more deplorable as it diabolizes the Godward side of humanity.
2. Disastrous because dissocializing.
(1) These demoniacs were driven from society into the solitude of the tombs.
(2) Sin breaks up homes and friendships.
(3) It destroys commonwealths.
(4) The rich man in bell did not desire the company of his five brethren.
3. Disastrous because infuriating.
(1) It is suicidal. These demoniacs cut themselves with stones (see Mark 5:5). The priests of Baal cut themselves with knives (1 Kings 18:28; see also Leviticus 19:28; Jeremiah 16:6). Sin is moral suicide.
(2) It is fratricidal. "Cain was of that wicked one, and slew his brother." These demoniacs were the terror of passengers (ver. 28). "One sinner destroyeth much good."
III. ABSOLUTE SUPREMACY VESTS IN CHRIST.
1. Demons confess him their Superior.
(1) This is remarkable in their history since the experiment in the wilderness. There it was, "If thou be the Son of God." Here it is, "What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God?"
(2) They tremble in the presence of their Judge. "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" They were preconscious of their casting out. That casting out they regarded as a presage of their time of final judgment (cf. John 12:31; John 14:11).
2. He may listen to a devil's prayer.
(1) He consented to the prayer of these demons that they should be suffered to enter into the swine. He consented to the prayer of Satan that he might torment Job.
(2) Why should he not? He can work gracious purposes by the most unlikely agency. His consent to the prayer of the demons was a judgment upon the sin of the swine-dealers.
(3) The injury wrought upon the fig tree, that upon the traffickers in the temple, and this upon the swine-dealers, were severally presages of future vengeance.
3. tie may listen to a rebellious sinner's prayer.
(1) The Gadarenes besought him to depart out of their borders. They would rather have demons and swine among them than the holy Jesus. He heard their prayer.
(2) Let the blasphemer beware. His horrible prayers may be answered. The imprecation, "His blood be upon us, and upon our children," had a terrible response in the wars of the Jews and in the horrors of their long captivity.
(3) Let the rejecter of the gospel beware.
4. He may refuse the prayer of a saint.
(1) The Gadarene, now no longer a demoniac, but a grateful believer, entreated that he might be with his Deliverer (see Mark 5:15), but was refused (Mark 5:18, 19). The bodily presence of Jesus he must not have; but his spiritual presence he may enjoy. (:0 Jesus had other work for him to do (Mark 5:19, 20). He was to go home, where he was best known, and there to let his light shine.
(3) Let us not be discouraged if our prayers are not answered precisely as we desired. God answers our prayers to our utmost advantage. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.