The Gospel of Matthew: Jesus Heals Two Demon Possessed Men. Part 3.  

30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.” (Matthew 8:30–34 (ESV)

What follows in this story of Jesus healing two demoniacs has always seemed strange. This is because not only for what Jesus did to the demons but also how the people of Gadara responded to the miracle.

“In the first century, exorcism was not completely unknown, and many Jewish and even some gentile exorcists claimed to be able to liberate people from demonic oppression. The work of these exorcists involved elaborate rituals and incantations often resembling what we would call magic. Jesus’ method of exorcism was much different,” states Dr. R. C. Sproul.

All Jesus did was command the demons to go. Go where? Matthew includes the information that there were pigs feeding some distance away. The demons begged and implored Jesus to send them in to the herd of swine. The demons recognized Jesus’ authority over them. It was then that Jesus commanded them to enter into pigs. When this happened, the herd of pigs rushed down the steep bank, fell into the waters of the Sea of Galilee and drowned.

“The demons asked permission to enter the herd of pigs, apparently imagining that this would prolong their influence on earth. But their defiling presence drove the disturbed swine into the sea; hastening the spirits consignment to the abyss (Luke 8:31),” comments Dr. Sproul.

The herdsmen fled into the city. They told everyone they met what had happened; especially about the two demon-possessed men. In response, the city at large came to the area and pleaded that Jesus leave their region. Why did they do this? Why weren’t they overjoyed about the deliverance of the two men?

Perhaps, much like the disciples in the boat, they became more afraid of Jesus than the demoniacs. Or, they demonstrated their perverse values in preferring pigs to the rescue of two human beings.

Pigs, and personal property, are valuable. However, people are more valuable. It is striking that the same people who scream for abortion on demand are often the same individuals who scream about saving the whales, the trees and bald eagles. At the basic level, this passages teaches that people are more important than things.

“The region’s citizens should be grateful for this miracle, but the people only see a loss of income from the death of their animals. Seeking material prosperity at the expense of true life, these men implore Jesus to leave (vv. 33–34). Regrettably, Matthew Henry comments, too many “prefer their pigs above their Savior, and so come short of Christ, and salvation through him,” concludes Dr. Sproul.

 Soli deo Gloria!

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