When Jesus 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. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
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. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town, and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. (NIV)
At some point, everyone must deal with Jesus, simply because he is a force to be reckoned with.
Eventually, we know that a storm will come. It may be sunny today, and the forecast might predict more sun or partly sunny for a while. Yet we know the weather will change. In the American Midwest state of Wisconsin where I live, we have not had as much snow this winter as we typically do. Oh, but all of us Wisconsinites know it is coming. It is not a question of “if” but “when.” It will not be here today or tomorrow, but it will come.
Jesus will come. A person might not have to contend with him today, maybe not tomorrow. However, eventually, there will be a whopper of a storm and we will have to deal with it. In today’s Gospel lesson, two men described as being severely influenced by demons approached Jesus. Inside of them was such a terrible inner storm that they shouted at Jesus.
Jesus, unfazed by the men’s inner violence and outer screams, uttered a command from a place of confidence. As fierce as the men were (the demons were so many that they were exorcised into a herd of pigs), Jesus had the authority to deal with the situation. As a result, the storm within the men subsided.
Yet, the storm was not over – it picked up momentum with the townsfolk. It seems they had been living their merry lives with no thought to Jesus. But he showed up. So, they had to contend with the authority right there in front of them. Unfortunately, they chose poorly.
The Evangelist, Matthew, intends for us to see a connection in the story between the demons who begged Jesus, and the people of the town who begged Jesus. They did not humbly beg to follow him; they begged him to get away and leave them alone.
Jesus is an authoritative force to be reckoned with… and he is coming to your town. Maybe not today, perhaps not tomorrow. But things will not always be the way they are right now. People will have to face Jesus.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, you are Lord over the wind, the waves, and the weather. You also command the unseen, and they obey. You are God with us. Oh, that all people would beg to follow you and not beg you to leave! I am grateful for your power and authority over all things. Amen.