The Healing of the Gadarene Demoniac (Part 2)

by Joe R. Price

Furthermore, the Gadarene demoniac had such strength that chains and shackles could not restrain him (Mk. 5:4). If demon-possessed people do exist today, where is even one of these with the same sort of strength? (“Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?”, Wayne Jackson.

3. The doctrine of “faith only” is the faith of demons. Like the demon in the Capernaum synagogue, Legion immediately recognized Jesus and the judgment he was under: “And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mk. 5:7; 1:23-24). If it is true that justification by faith only is “a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort,” then why are not the demons saved (The Book of Discipline 1980, The Articles of Religion, Art. IX, p. 57)? After all, “even the demons believe – and tremble!” (Jas. 2:19). Legion showed as much faith as some who consider themselves Christians. Legion acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God and believed his word (for instance, about his future judgment) – the same as many today. We might even note that Legion obeyed the Lord’s word when he commanded them to leave the man’s body. But, demons are not saved (Matt. 8:29; 25:41). And, neither are sinners who believe Jesus is the Son of God but do not obey all of his word (Jas. 2:24; Jno. 10:42-43; 14:15; Matt. 7:21-27; Lk. 6:46; Gal. 5:5-7). Jesus continues to be “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).

4. A future judgment of torment is real. Legion begged Jesus not to torment him “before the time” and not to “command them to go out into the abyss” (Lk. 8:28, 31; Matt. 8:29). The demons knew a judgment of condemnation was set for them, and that it involved torment. Some deny the Bible’s teaching that the torment of the wicked lasts forever. They believe “torment” amounts to annihilation – that one will forever cease to exist. The word translated “to torment” in Matthew 8:29 is basanizo, and is used in Matthew 8:6 of the centurion’s servant who was “dreadfully tormented” being paralyzed. Clearly, the servant did not cease to exist, for Jesus healed him, removing his torment.

This word is used again by Matthew in chapter 14:24, where the boat containing the disciples was “tossed” by the waves. Are we to conclude that the boat ceased to exist because it was “tormented”? No, of course not! Neither should we conclude the “torment” of the abyss referred to by Legion was annihilation.

He was speaking of the actual, painful punishment of “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

In describing God’s wrath against the wicked, the Bible speaks of “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night…” (Rev. 14:11) Those who die in the Lord will “rest” from their labors, but the servants of Satan will “have no rest day or night” (Rev. 14:13, 11; see Rev. 20:10, where the devil, the beast and the false prophet “will be tormented day and night forever and ever”). Jesus warned of “the fire that shall never be quenched–where their worm does not die…’” (Mk. 9:43-44). The rich man was very conscious of his painful torment “in this flame” (Lk. 16:23-24).

5. The compassion of God. Jesus was moved by compassion to free this man from his demonic bondage (Mk. 5:19). Similarly, God’s great mercy is evident in and available through the sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the world (Jno. 1:29; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:1-7). The Son of God came to “destroy the works of the devil,” and he did so in dramatic fashion (1 Jno. 3:8; Heb. 2:14-18). By delivering the Gadarene from demonic possession, Jesus shows himself to be the one who can deliver sinners from the clutches of Satan, sin and death (Heb. 2:14-15; Gal. 3:13; Acts 4:12; Tit. 2:14).

6. How we should react to Jesus:

a. With gratitude and faith. As with the other miracles of Jesus, this one gives sufficient evidence to cause one to believe in him (cf. Jno. 20:30-31). Now healed, clothed and in his right mind, the man sat with Jesus as the people went out to see what had happened (Mk. 5:14-15; Lk. 8:35). The man begged Jesus that he be allowed to go with him when Jesus prepared to leave. All of this shows the man’s faith in Jesus and thankfulness that he had freed him from demonic bondage. We must gratefully and faithfully follow Jesus wherever he leads because of the great deliverance from sin we have from His hand (Rom. 12:1).

b. Not with fear and rejection. The swine-herders ran to the nearby city telling others of what they had seen (Mk. 5:14; Lk. 8:34). Many came out to see this great sight for themselves (Lk. 8:36-37). But, when they saw Jesus and the man just as the herdsmen said, instead of believing in Christ and trying to learn more from him, they reacted with fear, dread and unbelief: “Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear” (Lk. 8:37; cf. Matt. 8:33-34; Mk. 5:15-17). Were they afraid of some calamity worse than the death of a herd of swine? Were they in danger from this Galilean? The text does not elaborate. But, in their fear they ask the Lord of heaven and earth to leave their presence. Are you moved by fear or faith when confronted with Jesus Christ and his gospel (cf. Acts 24:24-25)?

7. We must spread the good news. Instead of taking the man with him, Jesus directed the man to “go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mk. 5:19; Lk. 8:39). The man did this, and more (Mk. 5:20). Notice that he told his family, his friends and strangers. Similarly, we can tell family, friends and strangers of the great salvation Jesus gives, that they too might be saved (Jno. 1:41; Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20).

Truly, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?…so then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14-15, 17). When we teach others the gospel, some will marvel over it like the inhabitants of Decapolis; some will be afraid and reject Christ like the Gadarenes, but some will believe it, obey Jesus and be saved. Then they, too, can join in telling others (2 Tim. 2:2). Http://

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