When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (Luke 8:27–31)
This passage of scripture certainly gives assent to demonic possession being one of the worst forms of human suffering known to mankind. Naked, homeless, living amongst the dead, chained, and driven to solitary places, this poor man’s spirit was in dire pain and distress. Blackest darkness certainly prevailed until Jesus appeared bringing light onto the scene.
Throughout the Bible, demons have always recognized Jesus and His power over them. I am reminded specifically of the first chapter of Job. The scene is heaven:
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
God is always ultimately in control. Satan, the accuser, cannot buffet the child of God apart from God’s divine permission. God’s purposes are never thwarted (Job 42:1). Yet, for a time, Satan has dominion over the earth and its people. For believers, Satan’s power and authority have been disarmed by Jesus by the cross. Scripture tells us:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13–15)
Indeed, Satan has no right over the life of a believer. However, while Satan’s power has been disarmed through Jesus, he certainly continues to shoot plenty of his fiery darts at us, seeking our ruin. If he cannot keep us from being saved, his modus operandi is to keep us from being used. Peter gives us this command:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8–9)
When Jesus asks this demon possessed man his name, He is asking for more than just what the man is called. In those days people’s names were reflective of their character, their reputation. Interestingly, the name “Legion” referred to a division of three to six thousand men in the ancient Roman army. This name indicated that the demons were a large organized body, a vast host, a multitude in number. A pathetic sight for certain. This man was hopeless and helpless to change anything about his dire condition. We have no idea what it means to be possessed by such monsters, but I am certain we have all experienced circumstances when we have felt totally powerless.
Jesus desires to remedy our situations too–whatever they may be. Oftentimes it is in these instances that we are reminded of our total dependency upon Him. All the while He is gently whispering in our ears:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
Take It to Heart
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. (Jude 1:24)