Legion Pt 1 of 2

Two for the Price of One

Controversy!!!! Conspiracy!!!! The Gospels are fraudulent! Matt, Mark, and Luke all recorded this same story and Matt said there were 2 guys possessed but Mark and Luke only recorded one. Controversy!!!! Conspiracy!!!! The Gospels are fraudulent!
If I were weak in my faith for the word of God then that would throw me off; it would cause me to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible as a whole. But I have tasted too much of God’s goodness to be thrown off. Wait, that sounds to Christian-y. Let’s just say I have experienced so much of God’s goodness. . . no, no, no, that’s still too Christian-y sounding. Well, God has been really cool to me. That works, I guess. God has been so cool to me that such a simple “controversy” cannot and will not make me change my life course. So I must investigate.

You know, I just realized I never gave y’all the subject that we are covering. We are on the 11th Chronological healing that Jesus performed. This is the Legion possessed, crazy cliff diving pigs story. In short, it’s about the guy(s) possessed with a whole mess of demons. He’s (they’re) hanging out in the tombs when Jesus and crew storm the beach. Jesus frees him (them) of the wickedness and the pigs, the forbidden meat, fail at their attempt to fly. As I mentioned before, the Gospels named Mathew, Mark, and Luke all record this story. Matt kept his story pretty short so I’ll post that one for the first entry. Both Mark and Luke gave more detail, but they left out one big factor, so I’ll only reference and pull from their accounts. Mark’s record is found in Mark chapter 5 verses 1-20. Luke’s, is found in Luke 8:26-39. Now on with Matt’s record and after reading his account we’ll talk about the 2 vs. 1 issue:

Matthew 8:28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men
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.

So Matt points out that they have just arrived at the other side. Well, what side did they come from? Luke 8:26 states “They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee.” It was on that 3-hour boat tour (ok, that was a bad shout out to Gilligan’s Island) that Jesus shut up the storm. That is a story I would love to cover but it’s not a healing and this series is about the healings so I must move on. While on the other side—the Galilee side—Jesus was doing story time from town to town. Now, according to Matt, Jesus and his crew are storming the beach of Gadarenes. Mark and Luke state it was Gerasenes, but to clarify, the area that Jesus and gang landed can be known by both names. From reading several theologians’ perspective Gadarenes and Gerasenes were two separate cities that shared the same beach.

Now on with the controversy: Two guys verses one. Out of the 3 that recorded the story only Matt was there to witness it first-hand. Out of the four authors of the gospels only Matt and John where disciples; Mark and Luke where later converts. Mark most likely received his records from Peter. Luke investigated each story told. So out of the three Matt would have been there to see, firsthand, these two insane minds set free. I fully believe it was 2 guys possessed with a whole mess of demons. How many? A whole lot. Both Mark and Luke record Jesus asking for the demon’s name.
Mark 5:9 “Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.”
So the name Legion gives us the possible number of demons that were in these 2 dudes. A Roman legion, the ruling Government of the day, was made up of 6000 men. That’s a lot of demons. Now it is a demon stating this so the number may not be exact—they have a tendency to lie—but we do know that it was a whole lot of demons. Mark also lets us know how many swine were nearby. Mark 5:13 “He gave them permission, and the impure 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.” So it had to be at about 2000 demons that Jesus was dealing with. That’s still a lot of demons, and that’s a whole lot of crazy pork right there. Talk about mad pig disease! But the original question is how many men were set free on that beach. Mark and Luke do not say is that there was only one man; they just only record one man in this story. So that leaves room for two men here. John Wesley said this of the subject: “St. Mark and St. Luke mention only one, who was probably the fiercer of the two, and the person who spoke to our Lord first. But this is no way inconsistent with the account which St. Matthew gives.” Several other theologians state the same. Barnes Notes on the New Testament went further by stating, “had they (Mark and Luke) denied plainly that there was more than one, and had Matthew affirmed that there were two, there would have been an irreconcilable contradiction. As it is, they relate the affair as other men would. It shows that they were honest witnesses. Had they been impostors; had Matthew and Luke agreed to write books to deceive the world, they would have agreed exactly in a case so easy as this. They would have told the story with the same circumstances. Witnesses in courts of law; often differ in unimportant matters; and, provided the main narrative coincides, their testimony is thought to be more valuable.” That makes sense to me.

Faith Factor: Faith Can’t Be Denied!
The reason these men were set free was because they got their problem into a position of confrontation with the Messiah. He/they faced his/their problem and handed it over to our Christ. One commentary stated that it was the demons that pursued the conflict with Christ but I don’t agree with that. They obviously knew who Jesus was and if they had complete control over these guys then they would have gone the opposite direction. It’s not like they were confined to the tombs. Mark 5:3 states “no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain." But here is the Faith in Action/Problem in conflict with Christ: Mark 5:6 says: “When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him.” It was not the demons running to Jesus, but the man/men. If you want to be set free from sickness, disease, sin, or even debt then you need to bring you problem into a position of conflict with Christ. And the bonus is the devil and all his demons can’t stop you. Whether it was 6000 or 2000 or just one demon, they could not stop these men from being set free. A PROBLEM CANNOT STOP YOU FROM BEING SET FREE! Faith, true faith, can’t be denied.

I am so excited about the next entry. If the people in the area of Gerasenes/Gadarenes thought these guys were a terror before, wait till you see what they do after their deliverance.

Stay blessed y’all; it’s your choice.

And when you slowly rise back up yell, “POP”!

August 4th ‘92 I swore into the United States Air Force; Aug 5th my world changed. On Aug 5th 92 I found myself in San Antonio, Texas at Lackland Air Force base sweating like crazy. Some dude with a cool hat was yelling in my face about breathing wrong. The dreaded Air Force Boot Camp had begun. OK, it’s not as dreadful as the rest of the services, but it was hard enough. Oh the memories! Boot camp was just that: boot camp. I am proud I made it through it, but I never want to repeat it. It was within that fun filled 6 weeks that I found out how great my aim was; OK, I was not even close to a decent shot. I also found out what I looked like at 140lbs; it was not a pretty site. Now I make 200lbs look good--real good. Here is one memory from B.C. that has always stuck with me.

One morning our T.I. (training instructor) had us out on the tarmac practicing our marching. We had a tough time getting the commands/cadence down. Who knew a right turn could be so hard? This day he was getting pretty frustrated with us so he stopped us mid march, told us all (about 40 of us) to bend over and grab our ankles. He then instructed us to slowly rise back up and when we were fully upright yell, “POP!” He said the “POP” was demonstrating us pulling our heads out of our--I’ll keep it redeemed even though he didn’t--butts. The POP worked; the rest of the day we marched just fine. I don’t know about you but every once in awhile I need a POP moment.

I think in the Christian world one of the most popular scriptures to preach from is Romans 12:2. Romans 12:2 is a “POP” kind of scripture. Back when I was a youth pastor/leader I preached from Romans 12:2 a lot. It’s just so easy to preach from with youth. It’s a script that tells us not to bend to the world, not to give in to peer-pressure. Before we go on I better show Romans 12:2 for our reference point.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

I said this was a pop kind of script so lets put in some pops.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [POP, that’s your head becoming unstuck]. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good [POP], pleasing [BANG] and perfect will [CLEAR AIR].

The end of Romans chapter 1 demonstrates what a un-conformed [head up the butt] mind thinks like. But the problem is if we focus in on how we’re not to think then we end up thinking just like that, a butt. Paul wrote of this in Romans 7:7-21 “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” If we, instead, focus in on what we are conformed to then we prove the pattern of God’s will: the good, pleasing and perfect pattern. Ok, great, but what is that pattern, what is that good, pleasing and perfect will? This is where we ministers, or maybe just me, usually start filling in the blank on how a redeemed minded person thinks. If we want to know how a redeemed mind thinks then we just need to keep on reading Romans 12. Check out what the very next verse says: “Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Is that not the total opposite of how an unredeemed mind thinks? A sinfully minded person thinks of himself as more highly than he should. “Give me what’s mine.” I’m guilty as charged on that one. Thank God for His mercy so that I don’t actually get what’s owed to me. Check out Romans 12:14: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” I can bless those who supposedly persecute me but I don’t know about not cursing them, or even using a few curse words to describe them. Is that a little too real?

The rest of Romans 12 gives more goodies on how a renewed mind thinks. As a matter of fact, the renewed theme carries on through chapter 13, 14, and onto 15. Sometime in the near future read through Romans 12-15 to check out the Godly pattern. That’s starting to look like a pretty good study to do after I’m done with this healings series. Happy reading y’all and go ahead and yell out a few “POP’s” every once in awhile. I know I still need to at times.

Stay blessed y’all; it’s your choice.