Jesus climbed out the fishing boat after an eventful trip across the Sea of Galilee. He had hoped to get some rest during the voyage. Unfortunately, a terrible storm had suddenly arisen and the Apostles woke Him up because they were afraid the boat was sinking. In spite of all the miracles they had watched Jesus perform, they were still afraid. Would they ever develop enough faith to take on the mighty task that lay before them?
Jesus and His friends trudged up the steep hill to the Greek town of Gadara. The Apostles must have wondered why Jesus had stopped here. It was the first non-Jewish area He had visited. However, being God, He knew there a terrible problem here which needed His attention.
As they reached the top of the hill, a horrifying creature rushed out at them, from a cemetery near the road. A wild-looking man, dirty, bruised, and covered with dried blood approached the little group in a threatening manner. He was waving his arms and screaming and howling at the top of his lungs; he wore no clothing and his hair was matted with sweat and soil.
The people of the area, the Gadarenes, believed this person was possessed by a devil. When he had started acting strangely, they had bound him with chains and forced him to live outside the town among the tombs. However, the wild man had superhuman strength and easily broke his restraints. Now, no one from town dared to use this road because the madman was vicious and strong and would attack anyone who approached, day or night.
A strange thing happened when he saw Jesus. He ran up and bowed before Him. The demons inside knew who Jesus was all right, and they were forced to acknowledge His Divinity. Jesus commanded in a stern voice:” Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
One demon inside the madman made him cry out in a loud, terrible voice: ” “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
Jesus asked, “What is your name?”
The man’s rasping voice replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” Then, all the evil spirits who possessed the man begged Jesus not to send them away, but to send them into a herd of pigs who were grazing on a nearby hillside. Jesus granted their request, but it did them no good.
As soon as the demons entered the pigs, the animals immediately stampeded down the hillside into the Sea of Galilee and were drowned.
The swineherds, whose job it was to mind the pigs, were amazed and ran into the city to tell what they had seen. The townspeople came out and saw the madman sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and talking calmly and sensibly. Instead of asking what had happened, and being thankful, they became frightened and begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. Jesus does not stay where He is not welcome. He prepared to leave.
Only the man who had been saved was not afraid. He begged to be allowed to stay with Jesus. However, Jesus told him: ” Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy He has shown you.” The man did as he was told.
Thus, the unfortunate human who had once been captive of a legion of devils, through the saving power of Jesus, became the first missionary to the Greek nation. Jesus always has been, and still is, willing and able to change lives in the most surprising ways.
This Bible story ends as it began, with Jesus and His Apostles on a voyage across the Sea of Galilee. This time they were returning home, where a fellow Jew, by the name of Jairus had a daughter who was gravely ill, and desperately needed Jesus’ help.