The fact that this story centers around a man controlled by demons can be a challenging issue for modern readers. The text has enough detail to make it very approachable for us, and it appears in the gospels written by Mark and Matthew, which suggests that it was widely circulated in the early Christian communities. All of this makes it very difficult to dismiss it outright as fantasy. If we set aside our own notions of what a demon is and focus on the man himself, we see someone who is cut off from his family and community, who has to be chained up in a place no one else will go for everyone’s safety, and who lives out his existence in horrendous conditions. While we may not use the term demon in the same way, we still have individuals who live like this today. Jesus not only heals this man physically and spiritually, but also teaches him and sends him back to his family to proclaim the message of the gospel! This provides tremendous hope for us on what a deeper relationship with Jesus means, but it is also a look at what the forthcoming kingdom of God will look like where the evil that crushes us physically and spiritually is defeated by the love and power of God and where our broken relationships are healed and restored. In the moment of our greatest need, Jesus will be there ready to meet us and heal us where we are.
• Have you ever experienced something that you could describe as a “demon”? Was your faith helpful in dealing with it?
• This man showed tremendous gratitude to Jesus by sitting at his feet and asking to become his disciple. Describe a time that you felt gratitude. What happened and how did you respond to that feeling?
Prayer: O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Resources are from Sermons that Work)