No Match for the Savior
A crazed herd of screeching pigs plunging headlong down a hill into the Sea of Galilee may sound comically bizarre until you hear the rest of the story.
The account began when a madman greeted Jesus and His disciples as they landed on the eastern shore of Galilee in the country of the Gadarenes (Mk. 5:1). A composite of the Gospel accounts reveals the man was naked and could often be found wandering in a nearby cemetery. People from neighboring towns attempted to restrain him, even binding him in shackles and chains. But he had such strength that he would shatter the restraints immediately.
Day and night, his screams echoed among the tombs as he mutilated himself with sharp stones (vv. 2–5).
When he saw Jesus, he cried out, saying, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mk. 5:7). When Jesus commanded the demons to leave, it was revealed that the number indwelling the man’s body was so large the demons called themselves Legion:
For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many” (vv. 8–9).
The demons recognized Jesus as the incarnate Son of God and interacted as those subservient to Him. Despite their intellect and power, Satan and his evil angels are “finite creatures who can do nothing outside the permissive will of God.”1 Satan’s limitations are evident in the book of Job. Before he could afflict Job, Satan required God’s permission; and God regulated the extent of Satan’s malevolence (Job 1:12; 2:6).
Legion recognized what Jesus could do and whined, “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Mt. 8:29). They pleaded with Jesus not to send them to the abyss, or bottomless pit, where Satan and his demons will be bound during the Millennium before being cast into the Lake of Fire (Lk. 8:31). No doubt, Legion feared this fate.
So seeing a herd of 2,000 pigs a short distance away, “all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them’” (Mk. 5:12). Jesus said, “Go” (Mt. 8:32).
Cast from the man, they entered the pigs, which immediately went berserk, charged down a slope into the Sea of Galilee, and drowned (v. 32; Mk. 5:13).
Most likely, this was not the outcome the demons anticipated. But they were compelled to submit to the Son of God. Jesus spoke; they listened; they obeyed!
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947), 2:75.