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Luke 8:26-39 - Ridding one's soul of a Legion of sins

Updated: May 11, 2022

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Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me" -- for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.


Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.


When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.


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This is the Gospel selection that will be read aloud by a priest on the second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7), Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow one of two possible Old Testament possibilities, either from First Kings 19 or Isaiah 65. Depending on the choice, three Psalms of David are possible to be read. If the reading comes from First Kings, the verse saying this will be read: “[Yahweh] said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before Yahweh, for Yahweh is about to pass by.”’ If that is read, then both Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 will be sung, where both sing this: “Put your trust in lelohim; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and welohay.” If Isaiah 65 is chosen, then the people will hear: “As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, "Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,”’ That will be followed by a partial singing of Psalm 22, where one lyric says, “For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither does he hide his face from them; but when they cry to him he hears them.” That will precede the Epistle from Paul’s message to the true Christians in Galatia, to whom he wrote: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female”.


In the chronology of this reading, it should be realized that the Gospels of Mark and Matthew also tell of this event in Jesus’ ministry, with all three Gospel writers writing about it taking place after the event of Jesus calming the sea, from a storm that suddenly came up. This should be seen as one event occurring not long before the other; so, the landing “at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee” must be seen as an emergency docking, rather than some happenchance event, where someone was happily sailing along, until someone said, “Hey! We’ve never been here before. Let’s stop and check it out!” When that approach is taken, one can see the hand of Yahweh moving His Son to this place, for the purpose of meeting “a man of the city who had demons.”


This map shows the region of the Decapolis, which was where ten cities east of the Jordan River were located. According to a Wikipedia article entitled “Gergesa,” there is no sure place recognized as “the country of the Gerasenes.” The article says, “Byzantine Christian monks venerated a site situated a few kilometres north of Hippos on the lake shore, as the location of the miracle. It is the only place fitting Matthew's description, since it contains the only "steep bank" in the area descending all the way to the shore of the lake.” [Wikipedia] This makes “the city” (from “tēspoleōs”) be one of the ten cities in the Decapolis (Greek for “Ten Cities”), such that the only one of those close to the Sea of Galilee would be Hippos.


That location would be where the Romans had constructed a harbor (one of many on that sea), designed to accommodate fishing and water travel. When John called the Sea of Galilee Lake Tiberius, that was not simply because a Roman emperor built a city by that sea. The Romans were occupiers of that land, thus the citizens of the lands surrounding the sea-lake were taxed. Since fishing and water travel were done by profitable businesses, the Romans would tax those business owners; and, then the tax monies would be reinvested into making and maintaining functional harbors. This says after the storm, the boat-ship the disciples were in needed some repair work done; and, the harbor-marina at Hippos was closest to where the storm had blown them. The logistical reason for them landing there was the storm; but the spiritual reason they landed there was Jesus was needed by this possessed man … the one who met him.


The Wikipedia article tells of two other cities, both names beginning with the letter “G” – Gerasa and Gadara – saying “both were Gentile cities filled with citizens who were culturally more Greek than Semitic; this would account for the pigs in the biblical account.” The same can be said of Hippos, as the Decapolis was “a center of Hellenistic and Roman culture in a region which was otherwise populated by Jews, Nabataeans and Arameans. [Wikipedia article “Decapolis”] Still, the etymology of the word “Gergesenes” has it meaning "those who come from pilgrimage or fight.” [Wikipedia] This says the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee was where a majority of the people lived in the ten population centers, with the majority of those people being Gentile; but a Jewish population existed in a minority and those were deemed to be “Gergesenes.” They would have been pilgrims who stayed close to Jerusalem, but then had to fight for survival amid those who rejected their religious beliefs. The man who came to meet Jesus must be seen as one of these lost pilgrims, whose fight was against the demonic possession that had come upon him there.


When the NRSV casually translates this was a man “who had demons,” the Greek written is “echōn daimonia.” That stated the present participle of the verb “echó,” which means “to have, hold,” implying in usage “I possess.” (Strong’s) Thus, the truth of that written says, “possessing evil spirits.” More than the man “having demons,” as if he kept them in a cage that he dragged around, the written text says the soul of the man was “possessed” by “evil spirits.” This means the man’s soul – a Jew in a place without proper Jewish elders to help him – had prayed to Yahweh for help to come to him. His meeting Jesus says the soul of the man was told where to go, when, and why his going there was to meet his rescuer.


Now, in this modern world that suffers from Big Brain Syndrome, we accept that such a state that had overcome this man would be called “multiple personality disorder.” Modern scientists would reject any and all notions of “spirits” or “demons,” be them good or evil. They would write this man off as needing some form of drug that would make his brain less functional, thereby being less affected by the bad-wiring in his brain. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church still employs (and I presume trains) exorcists, who are deemed priests who can cast out demon spirits. The problem with that approach is it places more focus on casting out of demon spirits, without any pasturing specially designed to prevent such possessions, through seeking a divine possession [Yahweh]. Rather than ‘train’ Roman Catholics to be possessed by Yahweh’s Spirit, to then be reborn as Jesus as a new Christ in the world, the church knows it provides fertile ground for demonic possession. That makes exorcism the religious version of Prozac … a treatment, not a prevention.


When we read the NRSV translation that says, “For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs,” this seems to be nothing more than the symptoms of a crazy man. The reality is this says the man wore the spirits of the dead, rather than clothing [a robe or outer garment]. The weight of those dead souls {coming from “tombs”] surrounded his body so much that the thought of putting on a physical robe would be like wearing another spirit. To wear priestly garb upon such 'filth' would be to insult his faith.


The words saying “he did not live in a house” actually say [led by the word “kai”], “importantly within to a dwelling not to remain.” This actually states that all souls released from a corpse at death should ‘go into the light’ and receive Judgment from Yahweh. However, instead of leaving the material plane, the significance here is souls entered “within to a dwelling” that was a host soul-body of flesh. The ‘house’ is then someone whose soul was too weak to prevent a spiritual possession. When the result is known “not to remain,” that both says a soul in a body of flesh will also face its own death; and, when that host body dies, all possessing souls will again be released for Judgment. As such, they all are “not to remain;” but “not to abide-stay-remain” also says the body of flesh they possess was “not” one assigned to that soul when placed into the material realm. This says the lost souls were led to possess another body by greater spirits (elohim), who directed them away from their own Judgement; so, it is an “evil” act done by the elohim.


When we read the man fell down before Jesus, his host soul was the one who prayed for help to be sent to him. He prostrated himself before the Son of Yahweh. For us to then read [NRSV], “[he] shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me,” that is not the man speaking. It is the main possessing demon voicing recognition of Yahweh coming to confront it. The man would have no possible way to know who Jesus was. The demon within would; and, “Jesus” would be used as a word that was divinely elevated to mean “Yah Saves.” Thus, the demon spirit knew the host soul was being saved by Yahweh, in the form of a man, thus a “Son.” Yahweh would be the deity “Most High,” above all elohim-angels-spirits and souls.


To then read: “for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)” there is no evidence of an aside being made [no parentheses in the Greek text]. The NRSV (and others, I imagine) place the words of Luke in parentheses to show they are a jump back in time, explaining the man's life prior to Jesus arriving.


The words placed within those marks should be seen as efforts having been made in the past to exorcize the man. This would mean the man had been treated by priests of some other religion [Greek or Roman], with all such attempts only angering the demon within his soul. Those attempts had caused the man to react so violently that he would have to be constrained by chains and shackles. For the demon spirit to give the man super powers, enabling him to physically be “breaking the bonds,” he would be a fantasy come true. Instead of seeing “breaking the bonds” as physical strength, it would make better sense to see this as the demon spirit ceasing to make the man violent, thus “tearing apart” the personalities “bonded” to his soul, which caused him to be placed in “chains and shackles” in the first place That return to a calm state would have him be released by those attempting to cure him; and, once free, the demon would drive the man wildly out into the desert.


We then read, “Jesus then asked [the demon spirit], "What is your name?" [It] said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered [the man possessed]. [Those evil spirits] begged [Jesus] not to order them to go back into the abyss.” This says “Legion” is a spirit like we have read in recent weeks, about Python and Leviathan. The capitalization elevates that name to a level of elohim, meaning Yahweh created it to be an angel. The meaning behind the name “Legion” is “Collective,” where the divine elevation of that capitalized word shows the “Collective” to be souls amassed under one leader. This makes “Legion” become a pseudonym for Lucifer or Azazel, who led fallen angels to rebel against Yahweh’s command that all elohim serve His Son Adam, and thereby common males and females of humanity.


The cry “not to order them to go back into the abyss” says Legion commanded many fallen elohim. Simply by such a strong presence in one host soul-body says this pilgrim who traveled to Jerusalem and remained nearby was a devout Jew, who became the target of Satan, once he entered into a country of Gentiles. That level of demonic possession says the man was a true servant of Yahweh; and, it was that history that led Jesus to come to his rescue [the reason the storm was sent to redirect the boat].


We then read: “Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.” The significance of this is a “herd of swine” would not have been owned by Jews. The symbolism is the demon spirits under Legion begged to be placed into living creatures that were owned by Gentiles.


When Jesus permitted those spirits to enter into the pigs, that says animals also have souls. Everything that breathes air [Yahweh’s presence allowing life to penetrate dead matter] has a soul. To enter a swine would then release that demon to repossess a Gentile, when the swine would be slaughtered for food. While Jesus granted the demons their wish, Yahweh then commanding the swine to run wildly down a steep hillside into the sea below. Those demons souls were then released by the deaths of the swine, so Yahweh could Judge them … meaning, “Back to the abyss you go.”


We then read: “When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid." Those who had seen this event unfold "then told the people coming from the town and country how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear.”


This should be seen in the same light of Paul (possessed and speaking as Jesus) commanding the spirit Python to leave the girl it possessed, in Philippi. When the girl was no longer a valuable possession to those Roman slaveowners, they went and told those of the marketplace. The swine herders had likewise just lost some valuable property (pigs), which would effect the profits of the pork sellers in Hippos and the surrounding country. They all knew of the madman that was possessed; and, when the story of the drown pigs was connected to the ridding of a possessed man by demon spirits, it would be easy for them to put one and one together, so they realized they too had been protected by the pigs drowning. That realization brought a cold shiver of fear to run up their spines, because their priests had tried to cure the possessed man, only to find that angered the demon Legion. They certainly did not want to treat Jesus like the Romans of Philippi treated Paul and Silas, as they feared they would be ordered to drown themselves in the same sea.


The final verses then say: “So [Jesus] got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.” This says the time taken for this event to unfold was equal to the time the harbor laborers and the disciples with boat experience could make the proper repairs to the boat they arrived on. To be asked to leave was no big deal to Jesus, as the only reason he had come (sent by his Father) was to heal the demon possessed man.


When the man asked to go with Jesus, it was not to escape any future demon possessions in the Decapolis region. It was a request to be a disciple of Jesus, like the others who followed Jesus in ministry. When we read “Jesus sent him away,” the Greek word written means “he was set free” (from “apelysen”). This “release” by Jesus says the man was “free” of demon or unclean spirits; but his soul had become possessed by Yahweh, from having encountered Jesus. Unlike the disciples, who were still being prepared to enter ministry, this man had received the Baptism of Yahweh’s Spirit and become reborn as the soul of Jesus possessing him, “freeing” his soul from ever being influenced by evil again. Thus, Jesus sent him into ministry, to his home and to “declare how much God has done for you.” This is the purpose of ministry, once one’s soul has been cleansed of all past sins (possessions by demons) and reborn as the Son of Yahweh.


As the Gospel reading that will be read aloud in a church by a priest on the second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7), at a time when one’s own personal ministry for Jesus has symbolically begun, it is vital to see the possessed man as oneself. Each of those who will enter ministry must know the depths of despair cased by one's own demons. Only from a fear of Judgment motivate one to sincerely pray to Yahweh for salvation; so, our beliefs lead our souls to cry out to Yahweh for ending our way of being [possessed by waywardness]. We have to endure all the persecution that comes from Gentiles pretending to be closer to their gods than anyone else is. The sermons we hear are angering our inner soul, so it wants to break the bonds that attempt to pacify lost souls by exorcisms that are swallowed with a sip of water or wine. Salvation does not come from external cures. It can only come from the resurrection of Jesus’ soul, within each of our souls. We have to have our demons driven off a cliff, with our old possessed soul dying with them. We must be reborn anew, at which time we are sent by Jesus into ministry (in his name).

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