On Your Mark
Jesus and the Demons
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The
demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He
gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The
herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake
and were drowned. (Mark 5:11-13, NIV)
What kind of food do pigs eat? Garbage! It had to be the
So, you have a more complete picture of the setting. The
demoniac man, Legion, lived in the cemetery next to the town dump. Not the kind
of place to build a multi-million-dollar home.
But then, society always casts its most unwanted into stinky
places — whether it’s the slums of Calcutta or a homeless hotel in
Jesus goes where decent and normal people don’t — out
where the deranged live among tombs and an army of pigs roots around in the
town dump. Oh yes, Jesus goes as well to the homes of the rich (as with
Zacchaeus), but He also comes to the desolate, the cast-offs, to the broken
people living in awful places.
The demons know they have to leave the man. The only two
alternatives are destruction (“Have you come to destroy us?”) or permission to
enter the pigs. Unstated in the text is that the demons themselves do not ask
for deliverance from their condition. If they are fallen angels, as some
believe, then their plight is irreversible. That in itself constitutes a solemn
warning for all human beings — the choice we make in this life about
Christ has eternal, irreversible ramifications.
The Lord grants the demons’ request by letting them enter
the herd of swine. It’s an impressive number — 2,000 pigs. The disciples
must have stood agape as they watched the herd running into the Lake of Galilee
The incident shows the tremendous power of the demons. Just
a moment before they all resided in the man, and now they disperse into the
pigs. What does that tell us?
The devil destroys. The demons disintegrated the personality
of the man they possessed, and they stampeded to death the swine. The devil and
his legions cause personality disorder and all manner of devastation. On the
other hand, Jesus delivers and makes whole.
As a boy I listened one day via radio to an evangelist who
said, “I am going to cast out a demon, and if you’re not right with God, it’s
going to enter you.”
I was scared spitless.
However, if you study carefully the ministry of Jesus, you
will observe that He never permitted a demon to leave one person and enter
another. Demons were always cast out. The only time demons were permitted to
enter flesh was here — into the pigs.
The good news of this story is that no demon or bondage can
successfully resist the delivering power of Jesus. He has given us His
authority to cast out demons. We must be so full of the Spirit that evil has to
let go its grip when we pray for those who, like Legion, want to be free from
the bondages of demons, drugs or whatever holds them captive.
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, there are so many things I do not know or
understand about the invisible evil world. I do know that You have power over
all evil — including the evil in me. Thank You for both freeing me from
the grip of the devil and empowering me with the Holy Spirit to live for You.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
of God. Visit On Your Mark at pe.ag.org for a link to On Your Mark video and
audio podcasts with Dr. George O. Wood.
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