28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Certainly we learn in this story that Jesus has more power than a whole herd of demons. But we already knew that from so many other times when he cast out demons. The more interesting part of this story is what we learn about the short-sightedness of every spirit that is not from God.
First of all, we have the demons. They are upset, because they’ve been having a pretty good time possessing the two men. They don’t want to stop having fun. But, along comes Jesus, and they know it’s trouble. They know he could immediately consign them to Hell. But they ask to be allowed to possess a herd of pigs instead, and Jesus grants their request.
One might wonder why Jesus would grant such a request. Perhaps a clue lies in the fact that the story is recorded in the Bible for us, the book from which we are to learn the lessons of life. So, perhaps we should look at the request of the demons and see if it has anything in common with some of our requests. Do we ever ask God for help with something that might not be good in the long run? Perhaps you think you haven’t. But I can think of a lot of times when I asked for something only to be rudely awakened to my folly down the road.
Look at the demons, going into the pigs so they could, so they thought, continue their rampage of evil and destruction. They threw the pigs into the river and they all drowned. So, now the demons are possessing dead pigs. How much evil and chaos can they accomplish with dead pigs? What looked like such a good alternative to them one minute left them pretty frustrated the next.
We all are good at rationalizing. We all are good at asking God to pigeonhole his will into ours. We all are good a putting our spiritual discernment on the shelf and overlooking red flags that warn us of danger ahead if we proceed. We confuse praying dangerously, in other words, in praying for faith to step into spiritual warfare, with dangerous praying, being allowed to walk into temptation. Fortunately, God uses even our dangerous blunders to teach us a lesson and help us in the long run.
There is another lesson to learn. That is that God and money cannot both be served. Everyone has to make a choice. First of all, think of the short memories of the town people. No one could pass through that way because of the dangerous men. Life in this part of the land was a nightmare. To top it off, two people were being tortured constantly. You’d think that they would have been overjoyed that Jesus fixed the problem. But their concern was not for the possessed men, it was for the loss of property of the pigs.
Even more shortsighted than their lack of concern for the men was their lack of concern for their own spiritual welfare. Here stood Jesus, who was ready to offer them eternal riches beyond their wildest dreams. And all they could think about was that he might end up costing them more money. They were ready to exchange their immortal souls if favor of some pigs.
We live in a world that demands so much money from us. We have house payments, house taxes, income taxes, property taxes, food and gas taxes, and all that before we ever get to the necessities of life–food and clothing. We live in a society filled with luxuries that have become considered “necessities”–plumping, electricity, cars, refrigerators, air conditioners. Then there are the “must haves” of boats, motor homes, piano and dance lessons, dishwashers, and ad infinitum. It isn’t hard for us to focus our lives around money. But it’s very, very shortsighted.
Jesus told us, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan and budget. But it does mean that we need to seek to be right with God above all things. God’s righteousness is found in his Son, Jesus. He lived perfectly and made perfect payment for our shortcomings on the cross. He made a way to eternal life–the only way. This was something no human could ever begin to attempt. It’s a gift whose value so far surpasses everything that all the money in the world could buy that we can’t even make a comparison. It’s something that God gives to us at no cost to us but our allegiance. And he even promises to take care of all the trifling concerns in this life that require money. Such a great offer, who could refuse?
Learn from the story of the crazy pigs. Don’t be shortsighted.
- Bad for Business? (vineoflife.net)