Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Confronting the Enemy
As we’ve journeyed through Chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel we’ve seen Jesus emphasize through story and allusion that you need to encourage your mind to be open to the gospel—the fact that Jesus is the King in God’s Kingdom and that your loyalty belongs to Him above any family loyalty. He declared that once the gospel has shown itself on your life—that Jesus came to bring people into His Kingdom—you are responsible for what you’ve heard. He further stated that even if you think you have all you need from this life and this age—all you think you have won’t be enough to sustain you in the age to come.
Jesus demonstrated His loyalty to those who hear His Word and obey it when His family came to restrain Him. He further demonstrated His loyalty, His authority, and His power to His disciples when they faced a fierce windstorm on the Sea of Galilee. While they panicked, Jesus slept and upon awakening calmed the storm and inquired as to where the focus of His disciples had been—on the storm rather than on Him and on the mission (to get to the other side).
In verses 26 – 39 Jesus further demonstrates His loyalty, authority, and power by seeking out and rescuing some men from horrible possession by demons. In verses 22 – 25 He exerts power over the physical creation. In verses 26 through 39 He takes authority over the spiritual creation. Both of these show that Jesus is “all in” when it comes to rescuing us from anything that keeps us from serving Him.
26 – 27
I mentioned last time that it’s possible Lucifer knew Jesus was on His way to a place where he had a stronghold. The man (probably more than one as Matthew 8 says) was terrorizing the area. We know from Daniel 10:13 that demons have geographic dominance. It’s quite possible that the storm on the Sea of Galilee was demonic in origin. In Job God asks Satan if he has considered Job, His servant. Job asks permission to test Job’s loyalty. God allows it and in Job 1:19 a mighty wind swept in and destroyed Job’s eldest son’s home as all his sons and daughters were there for a party. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Satan opposed Jesus intention to invade his territory and free this man or men.
So they arrive on the southeast coast of the lake, probably around the town of Gergesa. It was a predominantly Gentile region, part of the Decapolis, 10 Greek cities that had some relative freedom to govern themselves.
This man’s existence was horrible. He wore no clothes and most likely lived in a cave (there are several in that area). We’ll see in a moment that he had super strength and kept himself away from people. Mark tells us that he cried out day and night. But he also lives near pigs—so by Jewish standards he is doubly unclean.
28 – 29
Luke tells us that he had been in that condition “a long time”. We don’t know really if it was the man or the demons that did fell down before Him. I think both are possible. The man, what there was left of him, wanted freedom and perhaps had heard of Jesus freeing others from demon possession and so made his way to the beach. On the other hand, the demons could have been coming down to meet an opposing force in an effort to scare Jesus and His men away.
When the Bible says “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:10-11) it doesn’t mean just those who are saved. At the very sight of the Messiah this man, controlled by demons, must kneel and must confess that Jesus is the Son of God. But look what else it says: “What do you have to do with me.” What the demon is saying is: “Leave me alone!” But Jesus will not leave those taken captive by Satan alone.
In the first part of the skirmish Jesus commands the demon to leave. The demon cries out to be left alone, then tries to take control of the situation by calling Jesus out as God’s Son. Possessing one’s name was akin to having power over them so the demon is fighting with everything it can.
In order for us to understand what Jesus is up against, Luke describes the man’s condition. Though bound, the demons gave him super-human strength and the ability to break chains.
Jesus, recognizing that the demon is not instantly complying, turns the tables and asks the demon its name.
30 – 31
The demon calls its name “Legion” which is the label for a Roman army force of 6,000 soldiers. I can’t even imagine the torment this man was under. Not only was his physical body controlled, but no doubt the demons fought amongst themselves inside him. This is no skirmish; this is a major battle that Jesus is now in.
But the demons know they are no match for Jesus. They also know that He can send them to the Abyss, which is a place that God sends some demons (Revelation 9:1-2,11), and is a place of torment.
Satan knows his time is limited—that God will one day haul him up and throw him into the lake of fire. But until then they want to wreak as much havoc as they can. They want to keep as many from trusting Jesus as they possibly can. And, if possible, they want to disrupt the Messiah at every turn.
But they know they’ve been defeated before the battle even begins. So they try to pull one last deal out of Jesus.
32 – 33
Mark’s gospel tells us that there were 2,000 pigs, so that would be 3 demons per pig. Pigs, of course, were unclean animals according to Jewish Law—but the Gentiles had no such food laws so it’s not surprising that there would be pigs in the area. The fact that they were pigs I don’t think is that significant except that the subsequent death of the herd would guarantee that the event would be talked about. In fact, I think it is the loss of the valuable herd that may have contributed to what happens next.
34 – 37
I find the reactions curious. The people who saw this were responsible for the pigs and probably realized they were in big trouble. It would have been in their best interest to tell the story of the demon-possessed man and what Jesus did in sending them into the pigs. They were just trying to avoid blame. Would you believe that story? The man was no doubt well known in the town so people came out of curiosity. The man himself had been restored. He had gotten dressed and was calmly sitting at Jesus’ feet in the position of a disciple. When the townsfolk came to see what was going on, the pig tenders repeated the story.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Instead of rejoicing that this man, who had plagued them for a long time, had been delivered—they got scared and asked that Jesus leave them. Since Jesus is a gentleman, he complied. Jesus won’t stay where He’s not wanted. But look at what the man does as Jesus walks back down the shore to the boat.
38 – 39
I can just picture it. No longer sitting, the man is following Jesus to the boat, perhaps even tugging on His cloak. I’m sure He is quite conflicted. Here he has been given his life back and would like nothing more to stay with Jesus than face the fearful residents that he once terrorized. Yet Jesus tells him to go back and spread the word of what happened. This is unusual—in past miracles Jesus has asked that nothing be said, but now he wants this man to proclaim it abroad.
So the man obeyed—and what a testimony he had. We read in Mark 7 that Jesus came back through this region. Instead of finding people greatly fearful, He found people hungry for healing. They crowded in so much that Jesus had to perform a miracle to feed them (Mark 7:31 – 8:9). The word from the group wasn’t “leave us” it was: “He has done everything well.”
What are the elements of an encounter with the enemy?
- He went on the offensive (came to met Him on the beach)
- He demanded to be left alone (“What do you have to do with me?”)
- He resisted (accusing Jesus of jumping the gun on judgment)
- He maneuvered by divulging Jesus’ name and position
- He recognized Jesus’ authority over him
- He negotiated (send us to the pigs)
- He complied with Jesus’ order but caused more death and destruction wherever he could
So what does this encounter teach us about our own encounters with the Devil?
- Unlike Jesus, you are very unlikely to see your adversary
- You know he is there when you are tempted to trust something else other than Jesus
- His schemes are similar: overwhelm, accuse, maneuver, negotiate.
- His aim is also the same: to steal, kill, or destroy – to get you NOT to trust Jesus and His Word (John 10:10).
We are very much like that man—hopelessly in the possession of the enemy (though thankfully not possessed physically). Jesus comes riding into the scene and does what we cannot do, frees us. Our response should be like that man’s – to sit at His feet, learn of Him, then want to be with Him. Like in this situation, Jesus often asks us to go back out and share what He has done for us.
This is also a continuation of the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission statement in Chapter 4: “to proclaim liberty to the captives.”
Most of us will never face a demon but we do face their work every day in the form of trouble and temptation. How can we be successful when tempted?
- Recognize temptation when it comes rather than be swept up in the moment (1 Cor 10:13)
- Realize Satan and his demons are already defeated (Rev 9:1)
- Don’t respond directly – Satan wants to get you to think, say, or do something that God would not think do or say. Jude 9 suggests even angels rely on God’s strength, not their own to rebuke Satan. Instead:
- Resist and he will flee (James 4:7). “Resist” means “to set against.”
- Relinquish yourself to the Lord’s authority over your thoughts and values (James 4:7 – “submit” means “to arrange under” – not blind obedience but purposeful submission
1Pet. 5:8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
1Cor. 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
2 Corinthians 2:11 “…for we are not ignorant of his schemes” having to do with forgiving others when there has been repentance—not holding a grudge.
Next time we have two of the most wonderful stories in the gospel—that demonstrate two aspects of faith—tenacity and exclusivity.