The men are tired. They have rowed and rowed the vessel across the sea. They had weathered a treacherous storm that had threatened their lives. Now, weary from the whole ordeal, they drag the boat ashore when suddenly they hear the piercing sound of an inhuman cry. In fact, it is down right demonic in sound. The twelve exhausted men look up to the hills to see…a human? It can’t be human. No human could let out a cry like that. And he’s covered in chains. He’s naked. He’s bleeding. He is in a dead sprint from the grave yard…and headed straight for them.
Once again, the rugged, tough band of men cower behind their Master…but can you blame them when you have a crazed demonic coming straight for you. It would difficult for me to stand my ground in that situation. However, even though the disciples shrink back from this man, Jesus does not. He is the one standing his ground, ready for confrontation with the demoniac.
What the Man has Lost
When we talk about the Gadarenean demoniac, we are really talking about a man who has lost everything because of the powers of darkness. Hypothetically, he has lost his job (who would hire a crazed demon possessed man), his friends, his family; if he had a wife, she has probably gone to her mother’s, and any children he may have had. Scripturally, though, we do know he has lost his house (v.27), he has lost his mind (v.29, 35), control over his body (v.29), his clothes (v.27), his voice (v.28, these are the demons speaking for him), his purpose (his will is now overruled by the demons). But over all of these things, this man has lost his identity (v.30). When Jesus asked him his name, he does not say “Joseph” or “Benjamin;” his name is “Legion.” This is one of the earliest cases of identity theft.
What the Man Gains When he Meets Jesus
The bleak situation gets better though. Because when this man finally gets in contact with Jesus, everything he has lost, he is able to get back. The hypotheticals that he may have lost (job, family, friends) he can get those back. He can go back to his “own house” (v.39). He is “in his right mind” (v.35). He is in control (no longer the demons) because he is doing what he wants, and that is sit at the feet of Jesus. It is with his voice that he asks to be with Jesus (v.38). And Jesus gives him a purpose in life when he tells him to “tell what great things God has done for you” (v.39).
There is one last thing, though, and if you have been reading carefully, you have noticed it. We never know the man’s name. Before, when demons dwelt within him, his name was lost to the demons. But now, what about his name? It is not there. Or is it? I think the Lord restores this man’s identity to him because this man is now identified with the Lord. He is a part of the kingdom of the Son, no longer a slave in the kingdom of darkness. And surely it is with great enthusiasm that he “proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus (God) had done for him.” That is his new identity.
Jesus is asking us this question today. “What is you name?” If we are enslaved to the things of this world, in love with our idols, refusing to give them up, then we answer, not with our voice, but with the voice of a demoniac “Legion” for our idols are many. But if we are slaves of righteousness, seeking everyday to put away dumb idols and “be with Him,” then we can answer the same question “Child” for we that is what we are – children of the King.
A Note on Hearing
We can must be careful not to separate this story from the context. Remember what has been discussed throughout Luke 8 thus far: hearing the Word and doing it. Notice who it is who is hearing the word in this story: Demons. Many demons hear the voice of the Lord and do what he says – they leave the man. Even the demonic forces recognize who the Lord is and do what he says. Likewise, we must recognize the Lordship of Jesus and listen to his word, putting it into practice every single day. Even the demons believe and shutter; how much more should the Christian (indeed, all mankind) believe, hear, and obey.