The Amazing Power of Jesus
Jesus' Power over the Supernatural
Matthew 8:28-34
 
As we continue our study of the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 8 and 9 tonight, we come to one of those fairly familiar stories.  And yet I am convinced that very often, because of our familiarity with the Bible, we miss what God wants to say to us.  My attitude is that every time I open the Word of God, I am going to discover something I’ve not seen before and such is the power of the Scripture. Let’s look at the text:
 
Matthew 8:28-34
 
As we’ve mentioned before, the Holy Spirit is presenting the credentials of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  God had determined to redeem the earth, to redeem men, to redeem the universe from the curse of sin.  In order to do that He would come into the world in the form of the Messiah. 
 
Therefore, when Jesus Christ came, He was, in fact God, doing just that.  The first time He came to redeem man, the second time He comes He will redeem the earth and the universe around it. 
 
So it is Matthew's concern as he writes this marvelous gospel that we understand that Jesus Christ is the King, the Messiah, the rightful ruler of the world, the king of the earth, the Son of God, God in human flesh, God incarnate, the second member of the Trinity.  In other words, it is deity that we see in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Now one of the major factors in proving beyond doubt that Christ is in fact the Messiah is seen in His power over the supernatural world and in particular  demons.
 
After all, if Jesus is really the Messiah, God in the flesh, He better be able to handle and his demons.  So very often we see Jesus casting out demons.  He can do it instantaneously, He does it authoritatively, He does it with a word, He does it with ease and gives to us clear proof that He can handle the kingdom of darkness. 
 
I think it worth noting that Jesus has already demonstrated His power to resist Satan.  In Matthew  4 Satan came to tempt the Lord three times and in each case the Lord was victorious.  So we know Christ has the power to resist Satan. 
 
But now we see that His not does He have the power to not give in to Satan, Satan and his demons have to give in to Jesus. It is not just what Satan cannot do; it is what He can do to Satan. 
 
Let’s see it through the lens of three key words.  The first one is
 
1. Possession
 
Here we see a man possessed by demons.  He is under the control of Satan.  Now as we approach the story Jesus has crossed the Lake of Galilee in a little boat with some disciples.  There have been some other boats trailing along as they have come from Capernaum.  They left Capernaum after a busy day of healing. 
By the time they were out in the middle of the Lake of Galilee night had set in and a storm arose and Jesus calmed the storm.  They finish their journey to the eastern shore, and in the dawn of the new day the little boats come to shore and immediately are confronted by an incredible situation.
 
We see that in verse 28.  They didn’t land in any old place.  They were in a particular place for a divine appointment with two men who are possessed with demons.  The Greek word for that phrase means to be “demonized”.  
 
What does it mean to be demonized?  To be demonized means to be under the control of demons.
 
Now demons can do a lot of things to people.  We know this.  They can tempt.  In order to tempt they've got to get into our minds and affect our thoughts. 
 
They can bring about disease.  Paul called the disorder he had, the thorn in the flesh; a messenger of Satan sent to buffet me. 
 
So they can attack the physical, they can attack the spiritual, they can attack the mental.  The Bible tells us that doctrines of demons, perversions of the truth to distract away into idolatry and error. 
 
Scripturally speaking, we find demons affecting speech, sight, physical deformity, epilepsy, the mind, suicide, insanity, self-mutilation and murder.  They corrupt the truth, bring about false religion, occult practices, all kinds of immoral behaviors.  They always produce evil, vile consequences. 
By way of definition, demon possession is a condition in which one or more demons inhabits the body of a human being, and they can at will control that being.  There may be all different degrees, all different manifestations, but that's basically what it means. 
 
And here are two individuals who for whatever reason, and whatever the circumstances, find themselves controlled by Satan. In fact, in Mark’s account when Jesus asks one of the two what his name is, it is the demon who responds to say, “My name is legion." 
 
In other words, there are many of us. A legion was a reference to Romans soldiers numbering between 6 and 8 thousand.  This man was literally eaten up with the power of Satan. 
 
And when Jesus encounters them they are living in the cemetery.  Can you imagine?   I don’t know about you, but I kind of get the willies in a cemetery by myself, especially at night!
 
To the Jew the number one defilement of all defilements is to touch a dead body.  They have been ostracized by society and now they are living in the tombs. 
 
We are also told, “exceedingly fierce."  That means violent.  They were wild maniacs and if you study the other accounts it tells you more about them. 
 
Luke 8:27 tells us "They wore no clothes," stark naked.  Now I realize that would have fit in without any question at a rock concert today, but in the Bible the only people who went around naked and were described as exceedingly fierce were raving maniacs.
In Mark 5 it says, "They tried to bind them with chains and no matter how strong the chains were they broke the chains."  They had a tremendous amount of strength. 
 
Mark also tells us "They were screaming and shrieking and cutting themselves all over gashing themselves and hacking away at their flesh with sharp stones.  And they were shrieking all with loud screams." 
 
Does that help you get the picture of what it means to be demon possessed? 
 
Stark naked, hacking themselves with stones, shrieking, racing down the hillside with incredible strength and as a result, it says, that no one might pass by that way.  I guess not!
 
And if some stranger unknowingly happened by, out of the tombs they'd come screaming down the hillside. 
 
And then on this day, not by accident, but by divine appointment, they saw the little boats and they were ready to do their number.  Out of the caves they came, screaming down the hill, and all of a sudden something happened.
 
verse 29
 
“Why are you bothering us?  Why are you here? 
 
Mark 5:6 says, "When they saw Jesus they worshipped Him."
 
Worship means to kiss the hand, to reverence on the knees with the head to the ground.  It is a word of profound awe, reverence, respect and worship. 
 
Why are they doing that?  Because they know exactly who He is.  After all, He created them!  Once they were holy angels before they went into Satan's rebellion, and they were involved with God, and they know the second person of the Trinity.  Nobody needs to help them with their Christology.  They know and they knew He was their antagonist and he was their judge, and He was their destroyer. 
 
And they said, 'Why are you here to bother us?  Are you come to torment us before the time?"  They even had the right eschatology.  They said, "You're here too soon."  They were pre-tribulation, pre-millennium demons.  This is not the time. 
 
Think of it, these beings are damned for all eternity and they know it, and they despise Jesus, they loathe Him, they hate Him, and yet they worship Him because they are forced to by His power.  They can't resist it. 
 
They know Philippians 2:10 even though it hadn’t been written yet!  He is to be worshipped and every knee is to bow, not only of things above the earth and on the earth, but things under the earth.
 
They knew they were there with the Holy One of God who had the power to destroy them, and they said, "This can't be."  The timing is wrong. 
 
They even know the redemptive plan.  Listen, they're better theologians than most people.  They know this is Christ, the Son of the living God. 
I know some cults who don't even know what the demons know.  They knew that they were to be doomed and damned forever.  So they bow the knee to Christ. 
 
It's interesting to me that they address Him as Jesus, You Son of God. 
 
The Son of God is a synonym for Messiah.  This is the confession of Peter, Thou art the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God."  
 
And Jesus said, You’ve been listening to God! That’s His declaration!”
 
So when they said, "You are the Son of God, they were saying you're the king, you're the Messiah, you're the anointed one, you're the Christ.”
 
James 2:19 says, "The devils believe and they tremble," 'cause they know the result.  They know what's going to happen.
 
And notice their request in verse 30.
 
Isn’t that strange?  I mean what good does that do?  A demon-possessed pig?  How do you tell a demon-possessed pig from any other pig?  I guess the ham might have a little whang to it! 
 
What's the point?  Maybe demons need to be in something.  We don't really know why they requested that.  Maybe they like to have a home somewhere.  Maybe they thought that was a nice concession.  If you don't want us harming people we'll just be content to go into pigs. 
 
I think it is a plea of desperation.  Please don't send up to the pit.  They fear Christ.  They're in awe of Him.  They didn't want to go to the abyss.  Just put us somewhere else.  After all, pigs are kind of off limits.  They were only out there because the Jews had found a way to make some profit and they had these built-in guards so no one ever went around. 
 
Whatever their reasoning, Jesus grants their request. 
 
Let’s move from the possession of the demons to
 
2. The Power of Christ
 
verse 32
 
I know PETA thinks that is cruelty to animals, but someone needs to help them understand animals are basically created for consumption.  It may well have been that there were a lot of busy people getting those waterlogged pigs back out of the water so they could cook them, I don't know.  But anyway the whole herd committed mass suicide. 
 
Now let me just have you think about this for a minute, how did he cast out all these demons?  He said, "Go."
 
When He appeared they wanted to leave and He commanded them to leave in one word. 
 
Now that is the think that shocked everybody.  It wasn't that He did it.  He was how He did it.  Instantaneously and totally!  Now those who were witnessing this event understood the power of demons.  They saw the effects of it quite often in their society. 
We do as well, we just don’t call it that.  And we are also witness to the fact that man doesn’t have the power to deal with them.  We can't handle, in physical, human strength, the supernatural. 
 
And I would guess that as powerful as unfallen angels are, fallen angels are probably equal in power.  In Daniel 10, an angel from God with a message from God to Daniel, and a demon held him up for three weeks.  God had to send Michael to let him go.  They're powerful.  In fact, in Ephesians 6, it says if we're going to handle them we have to put on the armor of God.  We have to be strong in His might.  Demons are powerful.
 
One holy angel in II Kings 19:35 killed 185,000 Assyrians in one shot," so they far surpass men.  They have superior intelligence, that's obvious from Ezekiel 28; they have superior strength, you can see that right with this maniac in Mark 5, that kept breaking the chains, you can see it in Acts 19, Matthew 17.  They have superior power.  They can do signs and wonders according to Thessalonians Chapter 2, they have superior experience, they have lived before the creation of man. 
 
And ultimately, it requires the power of God to deal with them and we see that here in our text.  They do what He tells them or allows them to do. He sends them right into that herd of pigs.
 
Now people say, "Why did He do that?"  I think it is extremely obvious.  Do you see why Jesus told the demons to go into the pigs?  The lesson is that Christ can cast out demons. 
 
If He just says, "Go", how are they going to know they went anywhere?  If He had sent them into somebody else you've got the problem all over again.  How are you going to demonstrate they left and not leave any doubt about it? 
 
Look at a normally peaceful herd of pigs.  Pigs don't usually swim and they're not sheep, they don't all go somewhere together.  And yet, as you watch, two thousand of them race toward a cliff together, go off the edge, and all dive in the water and drown, and the conclusion is something supernatural just happened.
 
At the same split second you turn around and the two demonized individuals are, as Mark says, "Seated, clothed and in their right minds having a wonderful conversation with Jesus and it’s hard to miss the connection between he two. 
 
What He did was give a living demonstration of the deliverance of those two men that no one would ever forget.  At the same time it did demonstrate the destructive nature of demons, for when demons hit those pigs instantly they were all destroyed.  And I believe it gave to the demons a preview of their own coming destruction.  And the overarching point of the object lesson is the power of Jesus. 
 
And if you're concerned about the pigs you've missed the point.  There's lots more pigs.  We can gladly sacrifice a few thousand pigs if it will allow people to see the amazing power of Jesus. 
 
 
 
 
Let me give you the final word.  First we have the Possession of the Demons.  Secondly the power of Jesus. 
 
Thirdly, notice
 
3.  The Perspective of the People
 
Verse 33
 
Now I’m guessing those who fled are not the owners of the pigs.  They're just the swineherds.  And when they saw that their pigs had all committed mass suicide and they'd run down that hill like maniacs into the water, they went their ways into the city.
 
And you would think their thought would have been, “How are we going to explain this?”  Here they are entrusted with watching the herd and now they are all gone.  But instead, while they included the details I’m sure, the focus of the story is on those two demon-possessed men. 
 
They got the message.  The pigs weren't the issue; the issue was the men were delivered from the demons.  The pigs were only the proof, that's all.
 
Verse 34
 
Can you imagine that scene?  Here are women hiding behind the men as they approach the area.  Men trying to appear brave, but their hearts are thumping in their chests.  They knew about these guys!  You didn’t go out to the tombs!  Little children peeking out from behind their mother’s skirt tails. 
 
And suddenly they see them.  There these guys are,   sitting there clothed and in their right minds having a conversation with the Lord.  I’v ealways ondered if maybe their mothers or wives or children were in that crowd. 
 
They hadn’t had a hug in years.  Hadn’t heard a kind word.  Hadn’t felt a human kindness.  And suddenly everything changed.  
 
And how did the crowd react?  The whole city came.  But when they saw him, they wanted Him out of their city. 
 
Why did they say that?  Virtually every commentary you will read will say, "Because they were more concerned about their pigs than Jesus, because they were concerned about their losses.”  And I think some of that is true.  In fact, I’ve preached that before. 
 
These guys show us a picture of our value.  To Satan, we are worth everything hell has to offer.  To society, we’re worth only what they can get out of us.  And to the Savior we are worth His life.
 
So no doubt, some were looking at the material losses of the day. 
 
But that can’t be the primary focus of their response to what happens.  None of the three records say anything about the reaction of the owners of the pigs.  It wasn’t just the owners who came.  The whole city came out, and when they saw Him they said get out of here.  Why?  Luke 8:35 says, "They were afraid."  Verse 37 says, “They were seized with great fear.”
They were not mad, they were not angry, they were scared to death.
 
Now if you've been with us the last few weeks, you know what this is saying.  It's saying the same thing over again.  When unholy men face a holy God they are in terror. 
 
Last week I told you when the storm came they were afraid, and when Jesus stilled the storm they were exceedingly afraid.  They were more afraid of the calm than they were of the storm because they knew God was in their boat and they were in awe of God.  They saw the supernatural and it panicked them. 
 
In this case, they saw one who could control the demons and the animals and take the soul of a man and give it back to him as white and pure as the driven snow, and they were scared to death. 
 
To put it simply, they saw God.  I don't know if they all understood that, but they knew it was supernatural, and men don't like that.  It makes them uncomfortable.  Give us back our pigs and go away.  Men can handle pigs; they can't handle God. The mystery of the supernatural they can't handle.
 
And by the way, this is the first instance in the Bible of open opposition to the ministry of Jesus.  Eventually it will lead to His death, and it all starts right here. 
 
Why are people that way?  I don’t suppose they do it anymore because it might make some student feel incompetent, but when I was in school, teachers graded on what they called “the curve”. 
And instead of having a set grading scale, the grade was decided by the aptitude of the class.  The highest grade made set the curve. 
 
So if a 50 was the highest, everyone else was graded in relation to that grade.  Now that was all well and good unless you happened to have an egghead in your class because if Mr. or Miss Egghead made 100 and you made a 32, it didn’t help you at all.  It just showed how dumb you were.  Listen:  it’s true in the classroom and it’s true in the workplace and it’s true in the church.  The lazy, indifferent, incompetent don’t like the super competent because they reveal us to be what we really are.
 
If you want to look at it that way Jesus ruined the curve.  They couldn't tolerate Jesus because of His perfection.  They couldn't tolerate Him because of His absolute holiness.  He was so far beyond them that He unmasked them, that He showed the stupidity of their own lives.  That's why they had to kill Him. 
 
And here is where it all begins to build.  They saw Him, they saw the power, they were absolutely panicked in awe of God.  Instead of falling at His feel in worship they said, "Get out.  Go away.  We don't want you." 
 
People say, Oh if you could just see the miracles you'd believe.  Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t.  Some of the people who saw the miracles did believe. But others who saw the miracles nailed the miracle worker to a cross.  They'd seen miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle.  That just made them hate Him more and more and more and more. 
People think today that if they can just show everybody a pile of miracles everybody will believe.  No, because some people when exposed in the presence of the awesomeness of holy God will literally run because they love their darkness. 
 
Have you ever picked up a rock and found a whole lot of little bugs under it that have been there for a long time and as soon as you expose them to the light they just split, try to find a hole?  That's the way men are.  You expose them to the light of God and they love their darkness.  They'll go right back into the earth to find it again.  That's where these were. 
 
But God was very gracious to them. 
 
Listen to how the story ends in Mark 5:18-20
 
Isn’t that gracious?  Even though these people wanted Jesus out of their country, He left them this one lone missionary and his friend, as living proof, in their midst, of His mighty power.  How wonderful that the grace of Christ is extended to those who don't even want it.
 
 Let's pray.

 

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