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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Deliverance of the deranged man (Luke 8:26-38)

Peter and the other disciples were taken safely through the storm on the Sea of Galilee to the area of Geresa. On reflection, Peter would have realised that the reason they had to cross the sea on that stormy night was to deliver the deranged man from his mental chains, which would have told Peter a great deal about the priorities of Jesus. The Saviour was willing to go through a storm to find a convert.

Peter would also have realised that Jesus was taking his disciples into new situations because here they were in Gentile country – we can tell that was the case from the presence of the pigs. He was taking them out of comfort zones. Moreover, they would discover that Jesus did not need their help when dealing with a needy individual. Instead, they were given the privilege of watching the Master in action.

The main lesson that they would have learned was that Jesus is more powerful than many demons. This man was possessed by so many that he was known as Legion. He was so dominated by them that no one could control him by any means. No doubt, the disciples needed this lesson because they were going to take the gospel to the Gentile world in which demon possession would be common, but they could do so knowing that Jesus is more powerful than all demons together.

The disciples, Peter would say, heard the demon-possessed man acknowledge who Jesus was despite the fact that Jesus had not been there before. Jesus had come on a secret mission as far as humans were concerned, but it was not a secret in the kingdom of darkness. They knew who Jesus was and his coming made them apprehensive (perhaps the ferocity of the storm at sea had a connection to them because Jesus rebuked it). We can also see that they distorted the mission of Jesus in the man’s mind and suggested to him that Jesus would increase his torment.

Jesus, Peter would say, not only taught the disciples about his power over the kingdom of darkness, but he also tested the people of the area about their priorities. Which was more important to them, receiving deliverance from spiritual problems or the enjoyment of the financial benefits they received from their herd of pigs (scholars tell us that the pigs were probably sold to feed a Roman army base located near the place)? The answer is obvious – the people preferred financial security to the spiritual blessings that Jesus could give. And not much has changed since then.

Connected to the above, Peter would say, is the difficulty of removing the superstitious fears that cling to people even when they are in the presence of Jesus. Obviously the local inhabitants would have realised that Jesus was more powerful than the demons, but their superstition caused them to imagine that Jesus would be worse than the demons. So they asked Jesus to go away.

And then Peter would say that Jesus solved the situation when he told the man to go home and tell his people what had happened to him. The solution was so simple – just tell others what Jesus has done for you. I don’t think Peter would have forgotten that lesson. Evangelism on many occasions, for him and for us, is sharing with others what Jesus has done for us.

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