Devotional Message: The Second Sunday after Pentecost; Year C (6/23/2019)

Revised Common Lectionary Texts

Isaiah 65:1-9

Psalm 22:19-28

Galatians 3:23-9

St. Luke 8:26-39

Semicontinuous Series
1st Kings 19:1-4 [5-7] 8-15a
Psalm 42--43 

Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, we bring before you the cries of a sorrowing world. In your mercy set us free from the chains that bind us, and defend us from everything that is evil, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

8:26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 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. 28 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”— 29 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.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32 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. 33 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.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 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. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 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. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “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.

St. Luke 8:26-39 , New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: “The Mighty Deeds of God”

The Gerasene Demoniac. One of the most frightening and fascinating stories in the Christian New Testament. In this weekend’s Gospel lesson we learn about a man who is reported to be possessed by demons. He has apparently lost everything. He has no clothes, no home, no companions in life. He has even lost his name — referred to as “Legion” for many demons had entered him. How many? Over the course of the Roman Empire, a Legion ranged from including 4,500 to 5,320 men. Whether his name is descriptive or evocative, it is clear that this condition has a profoundly negative impact on his life, and the townspeople are so afraid of him that that he is often arrested and bound with chains and shackles. But the demonic force in his life is strong enough that he would leave those chains in tatters and make his way back into the wilderness.

It is apparent, as soon as Jesus steps on shore, that he will be engaged in an epic battle with the forces of darkness that have enveloped this man. Perhaps understanding even more than those who accompany Jesus on this journey, the man immediately shouts, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” Jesus is undeterred. With deep love for this man whom he has never met, and with an unending commitment to help God’s people be well, Jesus casts this legion of disruption from the man, into a herd of swine (much to the swineherd’s dismay, one suspects…), and within moments the man is “clothed and in his right mind.”

We see three reactions to this exorcism: from the people, from the man, and from Jesus himself.

The people respond in fear. They beg Jesus to leave their country. It is frightening when realties that have never before changed begin to change. If a possessed man can be put right again what is next? Raising someone from the dead? No: better to live in a predictable (if broken) world, than to have no idea what is coming around the corer.

The man responds by asking if he can become a follower of Jesus. With nothing to leave behind anyway, he is ready to step into this new reality and discover what else this man, who has already completely transformed his life, has to offer.

Jesus calls the man, not to follow him, but to stay where he is, in a community where people are aware of what has happened in his life. He calls the man to be a living proclamation of the difference God can make in a person’s life. “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And how does this story end? It ends with this man “…proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.”

Perhaps this is the point. As Jesus demonstrates time and time again, faith is intended to transform a believer’s life, and result in a commitment to proclamation. Do we dare pray that this might happen among us? Do we dare pray that this might happen to us?

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. What impact has this man’s “dis-ease” had on his life?

  2. What  does the conflict between Jesus and the legion of demons reveal?

  3. What might Jesus’ hopes for this man be?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. What difference has my faith in God made in my own life?

  2. Do I think of God’s power as a frightening reality, or a comforting one?

  3. To whom might I proclaim what God has done for me — with whom might I share the difference faith has made in my life?