1.11 Synoptics -- The Gadarene Demoniac

Mat 8:28-34Mk 5:1-20Lk 8:26-39. All three Synoptic Gospels recount this incident, but Matthew records two sufferers, not one. He also abbreviates the story of their deliverance. Mark and Luke give more detailed accounts. Jesus travelled across the Sea of Galilee to a racially-mixed, Greek-influenced area, the region of the 10 cities. The presence of a herd of pigs also shows that this was not Israel proper. It is very likely that the demon-possessed man was not Jewish.

        

Here, as in his travels to Samaria and Tyre, Jesus was taking his ministry to the fringes of Israel, to areas where Gentiles could hear about him. And his instruction to the former demoniac to tell his friends all that God had done for him was different from what he told most Jewish followers – not to tell anyone what had happened. The result was that many Gentiles heard about Jesus. Some of them were more upset at the loss of the pigs than they were amazed at the deliverance of the demoniac.

        

Whatever the response of the Gentiles, the Kingdom of God had come near to them too. This was not an accidental encounter during a preaching tour -- all three Gospels recount that Jesus had the disciples row him across the Sea of Galilee just prior to this miracle. A great storm came up, the disciples feared for their lives, and Jesus rebuked the winds and waves. After the townspeople asked Jesus to leave, he got back in the boat and recrossed the lake.

        

Thus the entire trip was undertaken for the benefit of one man (two men, according to Matthew). This shows us --

        a. the role the Holy Spirit played in setting directing Jesus' ministry. Jesus did not know this man, he probably did not know why he was crossing the lake till he got to the region of the Gadarenes. But he was following the inner guidance of the Spirit.

        b. His compassion to help the most desperate and degraded person, the "chiefest of sinners."

        c. Jesus' determination to destroy Satan's handiwork in its strongholds. He did not come merely to teach, to prove his sonship by a few miracles, and to shine a candle in the overwhelming darkness. No, Jesus came to break the power of the darkness and of the oppression that enslaved men. This event was a literal fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy:

        The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
        on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Isa 9:2).