And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they sought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
The destruction of the swine is one of the chief difficulties of the gospel narratives. Some common impressions in relation to it need careful correction.
1. They were wild hogs, not what we understand by pigs. Their conduct is that of half-wild creatures.
2. Christ, at the most, gave permission, not command.
3. That the spirits did enter the swine, and that this explains their wild. conduct, is the people's idea, based on the paroxysms of the man when the devils were in him.
4. Similar rushes of animals are due to natural causes. See the stampede of horses, as, some time since, at Aldershot.
5. We need not think a judgment on the people for keeping swine was intended. There is no proof that they were under any Jewish obligations. We may notice the ends served by the scene.
1. It became an effective proof of the reality of the man's deliverance. So it answers to the command, "Take up thy bed, and walk." Such a proof was needed by the man, who may have feared it was only a lucid interval.
2. It exhibited the terrible nature of the devils' possession. If the devils wrought such havoc in the swine, what must they have wrought in the man! The people may not have properly felt the sadness and misery of their brother's condition. See the effects of the incident on the Gadarenes. It was their "day of grace." Opportunity of salvation was afforded them.
I. OPPORTUNITY OF SALVATION WAS REJECTED BY THESE GADARENES. All Christ's offers are associated with some searching test, which makes it hard to accept them, and compels a man to deal resolutely with himself before he accepts them. Illustrate Zacchaeus; young rich ruler; Matthew; St. Paul. Here the test was a mere loss of property. It can never be an easy thing to enter the kingdom. The entrance is a low postern door - a "needle's eye." Tests may now be more subtle; they are not less real, and they are much more searching. Gadarenes failed under their test.
II. OPPORTUNITY OF SALVATION WAS REMOVED FROM THESE GADARENES. Their rejection had to be recognized. It might have been recognized by some actual punishment. It was recognized by the immediate removal of the aid they misconceived and feared. Jesus went away grieving, and never came again. This may be your day of grace. It comes with a testing. In the test you may fail, and reject your Saviour. Rejected, he may remove. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.