Jesus and Legion

by Bryant Evans on October 21, 2012

The meeting between Jesus and Legion is fascinating. Jesus converses with the demon and then banishes him into a herd of pigs. The story is exciting and curious, and there are important lessons to be learned. The account is found in Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39.

Jesus is preaching in Galilee and has just crossed the Sea of Galilee in a boat. During the crossing a terrible storm frightened his disciples into fearing for their lives. Jesus rebuked the winds and waves, the storm ended and calm descended on the waters. Jesus had demonstrated his authority over the elements of nature. Now, stepping onto the rocky bank of the eastern shore of the sea, Jesus is confronted by a man of some local notoriety. The man was possessed. His life was a miserable existence. He wore no clothes and lived among the tombs perhaps sheltering in them during inclement weather. The man immediately confronts Jesus and the disciples. Within minutes, the demons are cast out into nearby pigs which rush headlong into the sea and drown. The narrative provides important learning for us.

Demons are real.

The story is recorded  here by all three of the synoptic writers. The Bible describes them as demons and notes Jesus interaction with them. Demons were objects of worship in the Bible (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 1 Timothy 4:1). The New Testament also records the existence of demons with the word occurring in 68 verses. In most cases, the demons are objects of God’s power to be cast out of men for God’s own glory. Some would wish to ignore the existence of demons and think only on good things. But Satan and his underlings are real.

Demons are not all powerful.

Hollywood, from the days of The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, have given us the impression that Satan and his demons are as powerful as God himself. But here we see otherwise. In Luke 8:28, the demons came before Jesus and “fell down before him.” This is an act of contrition; it is an act of submission. The demon then begged Jesus not to torment him. The word “beg” translates the Greek, deomai, which means to ask with urgency and with an implied need. The demon knew he needed Jesus’ help and submitted to him.

Demons know and worship the Lord.

It is striking to see a demon bowing before Jesus. We are also caught a bit off-guard when the demon speaks to Jesus and calls him by name. Knowing who Jesus is and even feigning worship to him is simply not sufficient. This echoes James’ statement from James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder!” Mere believe, apart from obedience is useless (James 2:20).

Jesus wins!

This small story really sums up the entirety of the book of Revelation. Despite the trouble Satan causes, despite the pain he brings, Jesus always wins. When the demons asked Jesus to send them into the nearby swine, Luke simply says Jesus “gave them permission´(Luke 8:32). The demons entered the pigs and they rushed into the sea and were destroyed. The man is next seen sitting clothed at the feet of Jesus and in his right mind. This event was so powerful that the people asked Jesus to leave the region because they feared his great power.

While this is an interesting story, it has a purpose. Like all miraculous acts, the purpose was to build faith in Christ, confirm his words and teachings, and to make more disciples. The formerly possessed man begs Jesus to allow him to travel with him but the Lord says no.  “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

What a joy to serve a Lord that can command demons to depart! There is none greater than our Lord!

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Samuel Thrasher October 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Great article, as always. I think its also interesting to note that Jesus did NOT torment the demon, when it was completely in his power to do so. Instead, he allowed the demon, who was an enemy of the faith, to flee. Instead of revenge, Jesus showed mercy.

Bryant Evans October 22, 2012 at 6:14 am

Thank you Sam, good thoughts!

Dave Moser October 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

“Worship” is probably the wrong label. Legion correctly identifies Jesus as “Son of the Most High God” but, as you note, that is a far cry from actual worship.

Bryant Evans October 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

Hi Dave, thanks for coming. I say worship because he did fall before the Lord and did acknowledge his superiority. Nevertheless, he was not worship correctly and indeed his concern was all for himself, among other things.

Greta October 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

This is such a great article. Yes, Jesus is powerful, and I believe in my faith. Demon is everywhere, but if you firmly believe in Jesus, you will be saved. Thanks for sharing this story…

Bryant Evans October 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thank you Greta. Satan certainly seeks those he can get to destroy them. You are correct; we are saved when an active, living faith leads to obedience to Jesus Christ.

Colin Lambert October 30, 2012 at 1:26 am

Hi Bryant,

Demons were real in Jesus’ day. Do you think they are real today? If they are real, do you think Jesus has given us authority to cast them out today?
Have you ever seen one driven out, or driven out one yourself?

Colin Lambert

Bryant Evans November 4, 2012 at 5:52 am

I’m going to defer giving a lengthy answer here because I am hoping to finish a piece on demons soon. As most people think of possession and exorcism, no I don’t think that happens today. But there are forces at work and we can, voluntarily, give ourselves over to Satan.

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