I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Luke this month, a chapter a day. I’m supposed to be on chapter 17 today, but I got stuck in chapter 8 for a week because the Lord was speaking too much for me to rush through it for the purpose of staying on a schedule. The section that had me glued to the pages was the story of Jesus casting out demons from the man in Gerasenes in verses 26-39.
This region is not one we see Jesus spending much time in, yet we find Him sailing over there with His disciples in these verses. When they get there, they are almost immediately greeted by a demon-possessed man the city didn’t know how to handle. He was bound in chains, and guarded as he would frequently escape the chains and be driven into the desert by the demon. This demon inside him throws the man down before Jesus, and begs not to be cast out. Jesus wasn’t afraid to confront this thing head on. He conversed with this demon – Legion (army of demons) and eventually allowed them to enter a herd of swine after casting them out of the man.
Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. (v33)
Note how these demons, once they entered the pigs, drove them straight off the bank to drown. What a powerful illustration of the intention of the enemy in all he does – death and destruction.
The people couldn’t understand what had just happened. They just watched their herd of pigs drown, and they’re seeing this man who was previously in chains and demon-possessed now made well and free. They implored Jesus to leave. As He left with His disciples, the man wanted to go with Him, but He responded with – “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. (v39)
There is so much to be taken from these verses, but there is one thing in particular that I couldn’t get off my mind.
Look at how the people of the city dealt with this man. They couldn’t understand what was happening to him, maybe they didn’t even want to, so they chained him up. Is this not the world today? The world defaults to merely containing or managing what it cannot fix, or doesn’t want to understand. This is why we’re in an overprescribed society. This is why addiction is on the rise. This is why our judicial system is a disaster. The world tells us to cope as though there is no greater hope.
But then comes Jesus… Jesus, who says in John 10 that He came to give life, and life abundant. Jesus, who left His throne and dwelt among men, and was obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2) so that we could know that we don’t have to just cope. He came to set us free. Note how He didn’t set the man free from shackles, He cast out the demon that led him to be shackled, and the chains fell off.
Jesus doesn’t just set us free from the shackles. He sets us free from what caused us to be bound in the first place.
Is it really freedom if you’re still oppressed by what led you into bondage? Are you really free from addiction if you haven’t filled the void that led you to addiction to begin with? Are you really free from depression because you can keep a smile on your face even though you still constantly feel the depths of your sadness inside? That’s not freedom. Jesus didn’t come so we could manage our sin – He came to set us free from the bondage of it.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Gal. 5:1
And just like the man in these verses, once Jesus set Him free he wanted to go follow Him whenever He went. Jesus had a different idea – a better one:
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (v39)
Jesus changed everything. He came to give us hope and freedom beyond the broken philosophies of this world. All He’s asked us to do in response to the life He gave us is go declare what the Lord has done in our lives to a world that desperately needs to trade in a life of coping for a life of hope in Christ.