Pentecost 2 C 2022
Today’s Gospel reading is a fascinating narrative of a time when Jesus confronted the power of the evil one that exists in our world. Yes, the story is scary. And the story is hard for us to comprehend.
In the text we are told that when Jesus and His disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and went ashore on the banks of Gerasene, a naked wild man suddenly came out of nowhere and rushed towards them yelling and screaming and waving his arms in the air. I bet the disciples felt a sudden urge to get back into the boat and immediately leave the area.
But before they could tell Jesus their desire to leave the area, the naked wild man ran up to Jesus and bowed down before Him and shouted at the top of his voice “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” It is clear that the demons that controlled this man knew who Jesus was and is.
And it is clear that the demons were afraid of Jesus. And they knew that Jesus had/has the power to send the demons back to where they came from before they had begun to torment this man.
When Jesus asked the man “What is your name?” the man responded “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And then the demons begged Jesus not to send them back into the abyss.
Yes, the demons were in control of this man, but Jesus was in control of the demons. In desperation, the demons begged they may enter the herd of pigs feeding on the hillside, and Jesus gave them permission to do so. And when the demons left the man and entered the pigs, the herd rushed down the steep bank and into the lake and were all drowned.
When the local people from the town came out to see what was going on they were shocked at what at what they saw. This once wild man was “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.” Luke 5:35
You know, there is much that can be said about this text, but there is one clear message that must be pointed out. Even though the evil one is powerful, and the evil one’s legions can wreak havoc in our world, the power of Jesus is even stronger.
Immediately before this story, we find Jesus commanding the wind and the waves to be quiet. And we discovered that Jesus was/is more powerful than the destructive forces of nature.
In the verses that follow our text today, we will hear that Jesus restored to health a woman who had been ill for twelve years and who could not be cured by the local doctors that had examined her.
And we will hear that Jesus even has the power to raise the dead when He went to the home of a twelve-year-old girl and brought her back to life.
Yes, Jesus has all power and authority when it comes to the evil one. And this is a good thing because the evil one has all power and authority over us. You and I are helpless against the working of the evil one in our lives.
The evil one wants to control us, to possess us, to tempt us to do what is against God’s plan for our lives, to lead us astray by telling us that wrong is right, that the truth is a lie, that God does not love us.
The evil one wants to influence us, the evil one wants to hinder us from doing what we know God wants us to do. The evil one loves bitterness, hatred, violence, arguments; the evil one loves dividing people and dividing families and dividing people in the church. As you probably well know, the power of the evil one is nothing to mess with as we live out our lives.
So, the question is: “What chance do we have against a foe such as the evil one?” The answer is simple, we do not have any hope to defeat the evil one by ourselves.
When we are left to our own devices, we cannot escape from the carnage that the evil one can and will do in our lives and in our world. So, what hope do we have as we live out our lives in God’s creation?
Martin Luther described the Good News this way in verse two of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
“No strength of ours can match his might. We would be lost rejected. But now a champion comes to fight, whom God Himself elected. You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is he. Christ Jesus Mighty Lord. God’s only Son, adored. He holds the field victorious.”
Yes Jesus, on the Cross, broke the stranglehold that the evil one has over us. Jesus won for us freedom and release from all the times that we have given in to the temptations of the evil one. He has claimed us as His own. And He has bestowed upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us resist the power of the evil one.
Our text today concludes “The man went through the town, telling what Jesus had done for him.” Just as Jesus commissioned the once wild man to “Go back home and tell what God had done for him,” He has also commanded us to share the Good News of our freedom from the evil one so all of God’s people can boldly state along with the Apostle Paul “God has rescued us from the power of the evil one and brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Col 1:13
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you came to us in our bondage, and led us to freedom by the Cross and Resurrection. May our lives praise you, and our lips proclaim your redeeming activity for all the world to hear. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.