Luke 8:26–29 (ESV) Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.)
Good hermeneutics (the study of interpreting texts) has as one of its cardinal rules, what is called “the anaology of faith.” What is meant by that term is that Scripture is its own best interpreter. In the case of the text before us, few other passages of Scripture open up another passage with such a graphic explanation of meaning as this one.
And what other passage does it open up for us? Several actually. The two which come most immediately to mind are: Ephesians 2:1–3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
And: 1 John 5:19b “and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
A number of the details of Jesus’ confrontation with this demoniac demonstrate what it is like with all of us outside of Christ – by painting it on the canvass of this extreme example. But do not be fooled, simply because this man’s condition was in the extreme, no less shows what a demoniac has in common with the world at large apart from Christ.
Notice first the man “wore no clothes.” The stronger the grip of the Enemy on men’s souls, the more lewd we become. Nakedness in the public arena is a sign of having been given over to the powers of darkness, where even common grace is cast off.
Note secondly he no longer lived in a house. The stronger the influence of the Enemy on a soul, the more anti-social, withdrawn and alone people become. Look at how the internet and social media has made many veritable recluses and living wholly apart from society – living in a virtual world of their own making.
Third, he lived “among the tombs” The third symptom of having been given over to the Enemy (beyond normal “lostness”) is a preoccupation with death. Abortion on demand. Doctor assisted suicide on the rise. Goth culture. Preoccupation with gore movies. Bloodlust in the news. This is nothing less than being given over to the influence of the Evil One.
Fourth, he confronted Jesus “with a loud voice”: The 4th symptom is a certain terror of having to be confronted with God in Jesus Christ. It can be an actual terror, or a pathological one which simply recoils at anything hinting at human responsibility to The Creator. How men clamor to decry any and all religion or anything that threatens their personal autonomy.
Lastly, he could not be bound but would always “break the bonds”: 5th is an inability to be harnessed or restrained by normal conventions. Law means nothing. A wild mind that cannot be calmed resulting in behavior that cannot be controlled.
Now tell me beloved – is there any question that we live in a fallen world? None. And none but Jesus acting in His redemptive power can free a single soul, let alone an entire society so bound.
Oh how we need the Gospel in our generation, in our culture, in our nation.
Thank you Lord Jesus, that one by one you are still delivering men and women from such bondage – and that the day of your appearing and the setting of all things right is right at hand.
Come quickly Lord Jesus!