Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week Pastor G delivers part 40 of his “Just Jesus” series.
We’re covering Matthew 8:23-34. Today, Pastor G talks about Jesus calming a storm and saving two demon-possessed men by just speaking a few words in each case. Jesus can speak to the storms and struggles of your life as well.
When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. ~ Matthew 8:23-24
I think all of us can relate to this experience of the disciples, if not literally, at least metaphorically. We’ve all been through some great storm in life that made us feel like we were sinking, about to drown. Maybe you are going through that kind of a storm right now.
And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” ~ Matthew 8:25
to destroy utterly, permanent absolute destruction, to be cut off entirely from the world of the living.
“Master, Master, we are perishing!” ~ Luke 8:24
Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”~ Mark 4:38
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” ~ Matthew 26a
Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. ~ Matthew 8:26b
The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” ~ Matthew 8:27
It’s clear, at this point, they are still seeing Him as only a man. What kind of “man” is this? they ask. They still have not put their faith in Him as their God.
When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” ~ Matthew 8:28-29
Now this is a VERY – WEIRD – STORY!
Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” ~ Matthew 8:30-31
Now, again, THAT is a weird request. Why do demons have such an urge to be inside of a living, fleshly thing? Why should they care where they are being cast out to? Why is begin cast into pigs a desirable thing for them? We don’t know.
And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. ~ Matthew 8:32
The herdsmen ran away, (no doubt!) and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region. ~ Matthew 8:33-34
A WEIRD STORY WITH LOTS OF QUESTIONS: Pastor Greg’s Theory …
Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience so he may have intentionally chosen to associate the event with the Jewish people living in the area. This may be why he specifically refers to the people there as the Gadarenes, the descendants of Gad, one of the twelve sons of Israel. At the end of Israel’s 40-year wilderness wandering, as the people prepared to enter the Promised Land, Gad’s tribe asked to settle east of the Jordan River along with Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh. These tribes owned a substantial amount of livestock, and the territory east of the Jordan was desirable for raising herds. Perhaps – over time – the Gadarenes expanded their herding into the pig herding business.Which, as Jews, they should not have done. That would be an absolute illegal action in the Law of God for His people. So that may answer some of our questions for us. Perhaps Jesus is willing to cast the demons into the pigs and willing to let the pigs drown as an act of judgment against the Gadarene Pig Herders, for their sinful choice of raising, handling and possibly eating pigs, unclean animals, withheld from them by the Law of God.
1) Jesus is exhibiting total power and authority over all of His creation, over the life and death of every living thing. He has every right. We shouldn’t question that.
2) I think this is an example of showing us that Jesus was serious when He told us He wasn’t here to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.
3) Wickedness has consequences.