Text: Isaiah 65:1-9; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39
Title: Demon Possessed Man
Venue: Grace Lutheran; Pentecost 2; June 19, 2022
The story of Jesus and the demon-possessed man
Is a story of healing.
There are many stories like this in the Gospels.
For us, being a healer is part of Jesus’ identity.
He is the one who can heal any disease
He can drive out every demon
He can make things happen that ordinarily wouldn’t happen,
And that is something we very much like about Jesus.
It is something that makes him more real to us
Something that we can relate to personally, in our own lives.
Yes, of course, we see Jesus as the Savior
As the king of kings and lord of lords
We know Jesus as the Son, the second person of the Trinity
But these are rather abstract ideas
We understand them on a cognitive level
But these images don’t always make their way to our heart
At least not to the degree that a healer does.
A healer is someone we can relate to personally
Because we get sick,
We have pain and physical suffering
We, and those we love,
Experience mental illness and emotional anguish
So, Jesus the healer is important for us
Yes, I believe what I confess each Sunday in the Nicene Creed
Those are important and foundational elements of our faith
But when we come to the everyday moments of our lives…
I intensely want my cancer to be healed
I deeply want my child’s problems to be resolved
I profoundly want my relationships with the one’s I love to be made right.
So, when Jesus comes out of the boat
And comes face to face with the man possessed by demons
He immediately begins to cast out the demons
He begins to heal the man;
To end his torment
This is something we understand.
Because it is something want Jesus to do for us.
We are reassured when we see Jesus casting out the demons
Because we want our own demons to be cast out
We are glad when the man suddenly becomes normal…
When he is living a completely happy life at Jesus’ feet
Because we want our own lives to be made right.
If we are so happy with what Jesus has done
Why are the people of the town unhappy…even fearful?
Yes, Jesus killed a lot of their pigs
But that doesn’t seem to be the problem here.
They heard about what Jesus had done
They came to see it for themselves
They told Jesus to leave.
A member of their community had been healed
For years this man had been a problem for the town
He ran around completely naked and crazy
He lived in the tombs of the dead outside the town.
Sometimes, when the demons seized him
He would become dangerous,
So dangerous that the people had to put him in chains
We can imagine that he had relatives in the town
People who at one time had loved him and cared for him
People who hoped for some kind of miracle to make him whole againAnd now…he was whole again
What a wonderful story
Except that, for the people of the town, it was not a wonderful story
What for this man was a miracle,
For the people of the town was a threat.
We don’t know what happened to the man after Jesus left
Except that we know he went around
Telling people what Jesus had done for him
But we can imagine that he remained, in some sense, an outcaste
One who was not fully trusted
As one who had participated
In some kind of strange demonic game with Jesus
The people were fearful
Because Jesus had upset their idea
Of the way the world was and should be.
As horrendous as it must have been
For the man possessed by the demon,
They were more or less happy with the world the way it was.
The way it always had been
Some people suffered and some did not
Some people were destined to be filled with demons
And some were destined to be whole and healthy
Some were destined to be women and to serve the men
And some were destined to be men, and served by the women
Some were destined to be farmers with pigs
Some were destined to be shopkeepers or tax collectors
Some were ritually clean
Some were ritually unclean.
That was the way God had ordained it.
Now, Jesus had changed all that
Jesus had changed their world,
And they were afraid.
Paul, writing to the Christians at Galatia, says
Before the coming of Jesus
We were imprisoned and guarded under the law
The law was our disciplinarian
But now that Jesus has come
Everything has changed
It is amazing!
Life has changed dramaticall
The laws are all changed
In fact, the laws have been discarded
The will of God has been revealed to be
Something quite new and unexpected.
In fact, the will of God is not expressed in a law at all
Not in a rule or a regulation or a decree
It is expressed in love.
It is expressed in mercy
The will of God is expressed in grace…
Paul uses an interesting metaphor
When talking about the love of God in Christ.
Paul says we are “clothed” in Christ
Clothed in this new reality
Immediately we are taken back
To the picture of the man who was healed of the demons
Luke’s Gospel tells us,
“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.
The Apostle Paul might have said, he was “clothed in Christ.”
A sign of a new reality
The new reality not only of the healed man
But of the people of the village as well,
The new reality, in fact,
Of all the people in Lakeland, and in all of Florida
And of all the world.
The man clothed at the feet of Jesus was a clear sign
That their entire world had changed.
What would they do now?
Now that the old rules had disappeared?
How should they relate to this new idea of God?
How should they now relate to each other?
Paul, in his letter to the Galatian Christians,
Speaks of the depth of this change:
Being clothed in Christ,
There is no longer Jew or Greek,
There is no longer slave or free,
There is no longer male and female
There is no longer demon possessed and demon free
There is no longer healthy and sick
There is no longer clean and unclean
All are one.
That is what frightened the people of the town.
And it is what frightens us as well.
We are happy with our lives the way they are
We understand the rules and regulations
By which we live our religious lives.
There are some who are outside the community of God’s people
There are some who are on the inside.
Those who are ritually clean…and those who are ritually unclean
Those who believe the way we do…
And those who believe something different
There are the saved and the unsaved
Those who live in the town
And those who live in the tombs
But Paul tells us
And Jesus shows us
That this all has changed
That in Jesus Christ there is now
No difference between the saved and the unsaved
There is no difference between me and the outsider
In fact, Paul says, there is no inside and outside
There is no saved and unsave
There is only the love of God in Christ Jesus
and all live and breathe and have their being…together
In Christ Jesus.
Yes, we like the story of Jesus the healerIt makes him real for us
But his healing power challenges us
With a new understanding of reality\
Luke tells us: “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.”
Everyone that day returned to their homes
Some, like the people of the town, in fear of God’s new reality.
Afraid of Jesus the healer
Others, like the healed man, returned in joy,
Clothed in the new reality.
Today, this new reality is revealed to us, as well.
How will we receive it?
Let us receive it without fear
Clothed in Christ
Thanks be to God. Amen.