Of all the miracles that Christ performed the ones that touch me the most are the healings we have recorded in the New Testament. I can just imagine the pain and fear those people lived in and how hopeless they must have felt. Then Jesus enters their situation and miraculously their lives are changed forever. In chapter 8, so far we’ve seen Jesus heal a soldier’s servant, Peter’s mother in law, and countless other people. As we examine these last few verses of chapter 8, we find Jesus demonstrating God’s power over evil spirits that were tormenting some men. We can be thankful for a Savior who came to seek and save the lost that were helpless without Him.
Now, as we observed the last time we studied Matthew’s gospel that Matthew records the Lord came “into the country of the Gadarenes” (v 28) where as Mark and Luke record that the region was called the Gerasenes. There are numerous plausible explanations as to the apparent discrepancy and we have no reason to doubt the biblical account unless we’re looking for a reason to do so. Further, Matthew records that there were “two men who were demon possessed” while Mark and Luke mention only one. Of course, they don’t indicate that there was only one so again the only reason we have to doubt what the gospel writers have recorded is if we’re looking for an excuse to do just that. There are numerous books written on the subject of textual criticism by people who have studied it in much more depth than I have. Needless to say, these are minor issues in the grand scheme of the glorious miracle we have recorded here.
In any case, notice with me the location of these men. The met him as they were coming “out of the tombs”. They had made their home in caves where people buried their dead. Not only was this not a pleasant place to live because, let’s face it, dead people just aren’t all that great of company, it also made these men social outcasts. No one would want to come visit them. The tombs were filthy, unclean, and no one would want to live there or associate with anyone who did. Furthermore, if these men happened to have been Jewish, they would have been ceremonially unclean. They, because of their location, had isolated themselves from society.
Also, we should take note of their reputation. These men were rough dudes. They were known for physical violence that no one wanted to travel anywhere near them. In Mark and Luke, it is recorded that chains had been used on one of the men and he was able to break those restraints. In short, these were a couple of guys you did not want to meet walking down a dark alley. However, luckily for them, the Lord did meet them and heal them in a glorious manner.
Further, these demon possessed men made a very interesting proclamation. There is actually quite a bit that we can learn from what they assert here. Also, the demons, speaking through the men, give evidence as to who Jesus really was. First of all, these creatures knew the identity of Jesus—the y called Him by name as recorded in Mark 5 and Luke 8. The men who were possessed had never met Jesus yet these demons knew who He was. In addition, the demons recognized the divinity of Christ as recorded here in Matthew. When they said “What business do we have with each other?” they were using an expression commonly used in that day that basically said “What do we have in common between us?” Now, they could have meant they would leave Him alone if He left them alone. However, they then call Him “Son of God”. I believe what they were saying is they recognized that He was divine, self existent, and the Creator of the universe whereas they were merely creatures. Finally, these demons also recognized the authority that Christ had as the divine Son of God. Unlike the false prophets described in II Peter 3, these fallen angels knew that there was a judgment coming and that it was Christ was would be doing the judging. They said to him “Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Clearly, these demons recognized Who Christ was, What He was, and what kind of authority He had. In other words, these demons had a better grasp of the nature, person, and work of Christ than most liberal theologians. However, Christ did not come to save those demons but rather to set these men free from their power. We’ll examine him doing that next time.