Casting Out Demons
Jesus Sends Legion into Swine

The time when Jesus was casting out demons reminds me of something that happened years ago.  Individuals had noticed that there were carcasses of pigs in the Shanghai River in China.  Authorities began to remove these dead pigs from the river because they were tainting the drinking water of more than 23 million Chinese citizens.  When they were finished, the number of dead pigs that they removed numbered just under 14,000.  

Something similar to this happened in the days of Jesus.  There was a time in the days of Jesus when a man was possessed by 6,000 demons.  Casting out demons, Jesus sent them out of the man and sent to inhabit 2,000 pigs.  I can read about this account in three different placed.  It is recorded in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8.  

Notice how Mark’s account begins.

Mark 5.1:  “When they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.”

If you read about Jesus casting out demons in Matthew’s account, you will read something just a little different.  Matthew mentions the country of the Gergesenes  (Matt. 8.28).  

The reason for the difference is that Gadara was a city and Gergesa was a general region.  This happened near the city Gadara which is within the region of Gergesa.

Mark 5.2:  “And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit”

If you read Luke’s account, you are told the same thing.  However, when you read Matthew’s account you will read that there were actually two men with unclean spirits.  It seems that one of them was the spokesmen of them both.

There are a lot of similarities between the three accounts recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  In all three accounts, we can read the dialogue between Jesus and the demons.  Each account presents a very unique perspective about what had happened.

  • In Matthew’s account, we learn that these demons were antisocial.  This is indicated by the fact that he did not live in town, but in a tomb.  (Matt. 8.28)
  • In Mark’s account, we read that these demons were violent.  Matthew alludes to the fact that this man was exceedingly fierce.  In Mark’s account we have more details.  Mark emphasizes that this man could not be bound even with chains.  When they tried to bind him with shackles and chains, he would pull them apart and break them in pieces, neither could anyone tame him.  (Mark 5.3,4).
  • In Luke’s account, we read that the demons were immoral.  This man wore no clothes, and it was the case for a long time.  (Luke 8.27)

We have three different accounts of Jesus casting out demons.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the same event, but each one adds an additional detail that the others do not mention.  When you put them together, you have a complete picture of what happened.

Jesus casting out demons ought to be very encouraging to us.  When we consider the fact that we are at war with the devil and his angels, and Satan is trying to destroy our relationship with God, it is encouraging to know that if we look to Jesus for help, it causes the demons to run the other way  (James 4.4; 1 Cor. 10.13)

The Demon Were Afraid of Jesus

When you look at this account of Jesus casting out demons, you will discover that these demons reacted to Jesus by falling down and worshipping Him.

Mark 5.6:  “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.”

Luke 8.28:  "When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him,"

These demons knew who Jesus was, and they were intimidated by Him.  He was Jesus, the Son of the Most High God.  He was deity.  These demons were so afraid of Him that they fell down and worshipped Him.

It reminds me of what we read in James 2.19:  

James 2.19:  “You believe that there is one God?  You do well.  Even the demons believe and tremble”  

When you keep reading about Jesus casting out demons, you will find that there is a dialogue that takes place.  In this dialogue, these demons speaking through the man that they possessed met Jesus and begged.

Matthew 8.29:  “And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” 

Mark 5.7:  “And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’”

Luke 8.28:  “When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!’”

Actually, if you look at the original Greek, these demons used an idiomatic expression.  The idea behind the expression is that we do not have anything to do with each other.  We are not the same.  We have nothing in common.  So why are you here?  These demons wanted nothing do with Jesus Christ.

The devil and the demons know exactly who God is, and they know exactly who Jesus is.  When Jesus came into their territory, they fell down and worshipped Him, and said that they wanted nothing to do with Him.  They knew who Jesus was, and they knew who they were in relation to Him.  

When these demons were ordered out of the body of the man they were possessing, they pleaded with Jesus not to send them into the abyss.  

Matthew 8.31:  “So the demons begged Him, saying, ‘If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.’”

Luke 8.31:  “And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. 

The abyss is likely the place that was described by Peter in 2 Peter 2.4.  It was a prison where angels who sinned were being held for the Day of Judgment.  These demons did not want to go to that place, so they begged Jesus because they knew that Jesus had the ability to send them wherever He wanted.  

Jesus intimidated them to the point that they said that they would rather possess the body of pigs than to go to this place called the abyss.

Casting Out Demons into Swine

Jesus allowed these demons to leave the body they possessed.  How many of these demons possessed this man?  Look at the question that Jesus asked these demons and how they responded.

Mark 5.9:  “Then He asked him, ‘What is your name?’  And he answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’”

He said his name is legion, but legion is not so much of a name as it is a number.  The word “legion” is a number in the Roman military.  In the Roman army, a legion consisted of about 6,000 soldiers.

Jesus gave them permission to inhabit two thousand swine.  

Mark 5.11-13:  “Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.’  And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.”

There were six thousand demons who were sent out of the man they possessed and sent into only two thousand swine.  That works out to be three demons for every one swine.  The swine couldn’t take it.  They violently ran over the cliff and into the sea where they drowned.  

What happened to the demons?  Here is the irony of the story.  In all likelihood, they went back to the abyss.  These demons begged Jesus not to be cast out into the abyss.  They were granted permission to inhabit the bodies of these pigs.  These pigs ended up drowning in the sea causing these demons to wind up in the place where they originally did not want to go.

Jesus did not just eliminate these demons from the body of this man.  He eliminated these demons from this plane of existence. 

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