“My Name is Legion”
To me, this is one amazing story, so many elements. A man is possessed – not by one unclean spirit, but by many, and in his misery, he is so strong that he cannot be safely chained. Jesus casts those demons into pigs, who run off a cliff and die.
The swineherds run to the city. I’ll bet they were not happy; they would have to tell the owners of all those pigs – two thousand pigs, that’s a lot of pigs – that the pigs were all dead. The people from the village could see the newly-healed man, and still they asked Jesus to leave. I am betting there were some mightily displeased merchants who were really mad about those pigs.
But the former demoniac asks to go with Jesus and Jesus tells him to stay, and tell the people how his life has changed since Jesus healed him. I imagine it took a lot of courage. I imagine he wanted to stay near to Jesus, fearful unclean spirits would re-enter him. I hope he was able to stay clean and to tell of this miracle in his life.
5 They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes.* 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ 8 For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ 9 Then Jesus* asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits* begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened.
15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus* to leave their neighbourhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus* refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’
20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.