And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils…
It should not be surprising that some incidents in our Lord's life prove to be beyond present explanation. In this there is a similarity between God's works and God's Word. Probably we could explain our Lord's power over devils if we could recover fully the sentiments of his day concerning possession by devils. Scientific medicine was not known by the Jews. Their persistent ignorance is due to their strange belief that sickness was the punishment of sins committed either by the sufferer himself or his relations; hence it was almost always attributed to the action of evil spirits. The only cure possible, therefore, was the expulsion of the evil spirit, and the whole science of medicine consisted in discovering the best method of exorcising the demon.
I. DEVIL-POSSESSIONS. It is necessary to consider some received views as to the nature of evil.
1. The Manichaean. Two co-ordinate principles of good and evil. Compare the Zoroastrian principles represented in Ormuzd and Ahriman.
2. The pantheistic. No reality, or separate existence to evil. Only a lower form of good; unripe good.
3. The scriptural. Evil the contingency necessary to creaturehood; the essential possibility of a moral being, entrusted with the control of his own actions. Man a being subject to influences; other wills do affect his. Illustrate by power of one man over another. Man is in a state of sin; that is a state of bondage to another will. So comes in the Scripture idea of a king and kingdom of evil. With this in mind, examine the particular form of sickness called "devil possessions." Perhaps it differed from epilepsy, hysteria, or insanity; but the lack of scientific description prevents our forming a precise judgment. What we notice is
(1) lost control of the bodily organization;
(2) consequent unrestrained sensuality;
(3) lucid intervals; and
(4) the sense of misery and cry for deliverance.
We may best compare with delirium tremens, the mastery of a man's body and will by the spirit of drink.
II. THE JEWISH MODE OF DEALING WITH CASES OF DEVIL-POSSESSIONS. They used incantations. The rabbi pronounced a magic formula. One of the Jewish books prescribes a sacred root called baaras. Using this aright, the devils will come out through the nostrils.
III. OUR LORD'S POWER OVER THE DEVIL-POSSESSED. Notice:
1. The absence of all incantation.
2. Our Lord used no agencies.
3. The word of command sufficed. If devils represent the supreme woe that can afflict man, then Jesus proclaimed himself Master of man's worst woe. - R.T.
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.