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On Your Mark

Jesus and the Demons

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 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. (Mark 5:11-13, NIV)

What kind of food do pigs eat? Garbage! It had to be the town dump.

So, you have a more complete picture of the setting. The demoniac man, Legion, lived in the cemetery next to the town dump. Not the kind of place to build a multi-million-dollar home.

But then, society always casts its most unwanted into stinky places — whether it’s the slums of Calcutta or a homeless hotel in Anytown.

Jesus goes where decent and normal people don’t — out where the deranged live among tombs and an army of pigs roots around in the town dump. Oh yes, Jesus goes as well to the homes of the rich (as with Zacchaeus), but He also comes to the desolate, the cast-offs, to the broken people living in awful places.

The demons know they have to leave the man. The only two alternatives are destruction (“Have you come to destroy us?”) or permission to enter the pigs. Unstated in the text is that the demons themselves do not ask for deliverance from their condition. If they are fallen angels, as some believe, then their plight is irreversible. That in itself constitutes a solemn warning for all human beings — the choice we make in this life about Christ has eternal, irreversible ramifications.

The Lord grants the demons’ request by letting them enter the herd of swine. It’s an impressive number — 2,000 pigs. The disciples must have stood agape as they watched the herd running into the Lake of Galilee and drowning.

The incident shows the tremendous power of the demons. Just a moment before they all resided in the man, and now they disperse into the pigs. What does that tell us?

The devil destroys. The demons disintegrated the personality of the man they possessed, and they stampeded to death the swine. The devil and his legions cause personality disorder and all manner of devastation. On the other hand, Jesus delivers and makes whole.

As a boy I listened one day via radio to an evangelist who said, “I am going to cast out a demon, and if you’re not right with God, it’s going to enter you.”

I was scared spitless.

However, if you study carefully the ministry of Jesus, you will observe that He never permitted a demon to leave one person and enter another. Demons were always cast out. The only time demons were permitted to enter flesh was here — into the pigs.

The good news of this story is that no demon or bondage can successfully resist the delivering power of Jesus. He has given us His authority to cast out demons. We must be so full of the Spirit that evil has to let go its grip when we pray for those who, like Legion, want to be free from the bondages of demons, drugs or whatever holds them captive.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, there are so many things I do not know or understand about the invisible evil world. I do know that You have power over all evil — including the evil in me. Thank You for both freeing me from the grip of the devil and empowering me with the Holy Spirit to live for You.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Visit On Your Mark at for a link to On Your Mark video and audio podcasts with Dr. George O. Wood.

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