Missional Jesus attracts crowds, summons people to follow him, extends mercy and healing to anyone with faith — sometimes when that faith is second-hand — and now manifests that his missional is loaded with power.
Nothing is as foreign to most of religion today as demons. Bultmann once said no one today believes in the radio and in the NT world of spirits and demons. The problem is today that more and more not only believe in the reality of a spirit-world but know that the spirit-world of evil has infected the systems of this world to create systemic injustice. Some may want to narrow it to systemic injustice (and a good thinker on this theme is Walter Wink), but today one must grapple with at least this much. Yet others, at least ever since M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie, have learned to reckon with the reality of spirits infecting the soul of individual humans. So, for such folks, the following story of the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, we’ve got a recognizable and resonating text.
1. Missional Jesus confronts the evil at home in persons ravaged by evil spirits. This man has become uncontrollable and lived — appropriately enough — among the dead. Further, this man’s symptom was self-destruction.
2. The evil world recognizes missional Jesus as a threat of power.
3. Missional Jesus’ power is intimidating and awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t mean everyone who perceives turns into a follower of Jesus.
4. Missional Jesus summons those released from evil to witness to the mercy he [the Lord] has shown them.
5. Missional Jesus knows his mission is a spiritual battle.
1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon?possessed man–and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon?possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.