MATTHEW 8:28-34 THE KING DRIVING LEGIONS BEFORE HIM.
28. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Did they come out to oppose him? As he steps on the shore, did Satan mean to drive him back by this double legion of demons? The tombs were Satan’s castle; he used the madness of these afflicted men as his weapons of war. They had driven away everybody else; will they stop the advance of the Lord Jesus? They were “exceeding fierce ”: will they fright him to flight?
29. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
This is the old cry, “Mind your own business! Do not interfere with our trade! Let us alone, and go elsewhere!” Devils never like to be interfered with. But if devils have nothing to do with Jesus, he has something to do with them. His presence is torment to them. They know that a time is coming when they shall fully receive their hell; but that time seems to be antedated when the Lord Jesus invades their solitary, lurking-place among the tombs. The devils here spoke, and compelled the lips of the men thus to plead against themselves. How very like is this to the swearer’s case, whose mouth is used to imprecate a curse upon himself! The devils owned him Son of God, for even they are not so base as to deny his Deity. The demons confessed that he was not under their rule: “What have we to do with thee? ” They also expressed their dread of his almighty power, and feared the torment they deserved.
30, 31. And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
Jews had no right to be feeding herds of swine, for they were unclean to them. The devils began to tremble before Jesus had said a word, “saying, If thou cast us out .” They cannot bear to go to their own place, and so beg to go into pigs. Devils would sooner dwell inside swine than be in the presence of Jesus. If they cannot do mischief to men, they would sooner destroy pigs than be without doing mischief. Devils cannot, however, even afflict hogs without leave from Christ. Think of these demons in their pride beseeching Jesus, and beseeching him for so small a boon as to be allowed to enter into a herd of swine. Truly the Son of God is King! The whines of a legion of devils admit his sovereignty.
32. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
Our Lord never wastes words on devils: “He said unto them, Go. ” The less we say to bad men the better. One word is enough for such dogs as these tormenting spirits were. The devils soon went from the lunatics to the hogs. From a madman to a beast was a short remove for a foul spirit. Swine prefer death to deviltry; and if men were not worse than swine, they would be of the same opinion. They run hard whom the devil drives. The devil drives his hogs to a bad market. Those who pursue a downward path without consideration, will come to destruction in the end. The swine “perished in the water ”, but the devils are reserved to the judgment of eternal fire. We need not dread the powers of hell. They fly pell-mell before our Lord.
33. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
Well might the swineherds flee! When evil men perish at the last, their wicked pastors will have a hard time of it.
How vividly they told their story! No item was left out! “They told everything. ” Probably all the details were brought out into exaggerated relief. Thus would they excuse their own loss of the swine which they were set to keep, but had seen lost before their very eyes. Their employers, the owners of the herd, must have greatly lamented their loss, but they must have trembled as they saw the hand of God in it. What a crushing misfortune for the swine-keepers. of Gadara! Who pities them, since their trade was unlawful! The story of the healing of the demoniacs was mentioned by the reporters as a secondary matter; but, indeed, it was the central point of the narrative. To some men souls are secondary to swine.
The healing of the two demoniacs added to the wonder, and set every ear tingling throughout the city. Yet the result on the people was not what one would have expected.
34. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coast.
A rare occurrence a whole city meeting Jesus, and that city unanimous in their appeal to him. Alas, it was the unanimity of evil! Here was a whole city at a prayer-meeting, praying against their own blessing. Think of having the Lord among them, healing the worst of diseases, and yet entreating him to go away from them! They would be rid of the one glorious Being who alone could bless them. Horrible was their prayer; but it was heard, and Jesus departed out of their coasts. He will not force his company on any. He will be a welcome guest, or he will be gone. What a mercy that our Lord does not hear every prayer of this sort! How would it fare with swearers if their imprecations were fulfilled?
O Lord, I thank thee that thou didst not go away from me, when I, in my unregenerate condition. Wished thee to let me alone!