There is a lot of controversy about why Jesus, who teaches us to be
loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God, who live in the
heavenly will of our Father, would allow the demons to enter a Gerasene herd
The controversy arises first because of the confusion over the name of the place and the people in the ancient manuscripts, who are called Gergesenes, Gerasenes (as in this text), and Gadarenes, but most modern scholars place the location of this event about midway along the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.
The controversy also arises because some people believe that Jesus was cruel, which He was not, so instead of concentrating on these discrepancies, let’s concentrate on the message and find the truth.
We need to always look at these kinds of situations in the Bible from a standpoint of the heavenly will of God and the loving and compassionate teachings of Jesus and ask:
Why would a truly loving Jesus do this?
What was the message that Jesus was trying to convey to the people?
Let’s begin to answer these questions by looking at this story as described in Luke 8:26-39.
26. And they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite
27. And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.
28. And seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me."
It’s very important that we understand what is happening here.
The demons recognize Jesus for who He really is, the Son of God, even though they follow the devil instead of Jesus. This is very similar to the way a great many people live today.
29. For He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man.
For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles
and kept under guard; and yet he would burst his fetters and be driven by
the demon into the desert.
30. And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him.
The name “Legion” also tells us how strong the forces of evil are in the world around us, for a Roman legion consisted of 2,000 soldiers.
31. And they were entreating Him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
And just like most people in the world today who choose to follow the ways of the devil instead of Jesus, the demons didn’t want the Lord to send them to hell.
32. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons entreated Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission.
From this statement, we know that this region was Gentile and not Jewish,
because the Jews did not raise or eat pigs.
The demons needed to be in a living being.
The demons also seemed to understand that humans had a very materialistic view of farmed animals, and wouldn’t care if the demons entered the pigs, even though the pigs are living, breathing and feeling beings, just as we are, which is most likely why the demons wanted to enter them.
Even the demons held the pigs to a much higher standard than the humans did.
Furthermore, we believe that the demons figured that when the pigs were slaughtered, they could easily go into the hard of heart people who killed them.
33. And the demons came out from the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned.
Jesus was not being cruel when He permitted the demons to enter the pigs; He
knew what would happen.
He knew that the pigs would rather die than be possessed by the demons, which was something the demons never considered.
From reading the Bible we know that Jesus didn’t eat any animal flesh during His incarnate life upon the earth.
He knew that animals are also God’s created beings with the same feelings that we have, and that they suffer horribly at the hands of wicked humans who have no regard for the lives of their animals.
He knew that these pigs would suffer a horrible death in a short period of time, and would not be allowed to live their lives as God intended when He created them.
Jesus also knew that since the pigs were created as living souls, just as we are, God would bring them to heaven when they died.
The pigs also seemed to know this, for they knew that if they drown themselves in the sea, the demons would come out and go to the very place that they didn’t want to, and the pigs would go with God to live in peace and contentment forever and ever.
The pigs were more righteous than the humans, which seems to be part of the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach the people.
34. And when the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported
it in the city and out in the country.
35. And the people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened.
They were frightened because they knew that this was an act of God, and that the One who brought it to pass was in their presence, and they recognized their own ungodliness.
36. And those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was
demon-possessed had been made well.
37. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to depart from them; for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat, and returned.
Like the demons, the people were gripped with great fear, but not
However, the man from whom the demons were cast out now seems to have a repentant spirit, and wants to follow the ways of Jesus and not the ways of the world in which he had formerly lived.
This is also what we believe is the meaning of the story about Jesus, demons and pigs.
38. But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he
might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,
39. "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Jesus turned that once demon possessed man into an evangelist for God.
Even though he was a Gentile, he recognized the truth coming from the Jews, which has a similar understanding to what Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians 3:23-29.
23. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
Jesus’ whole ministry was to free people from being held captive to the law through unconditional love, which fulfills the whole law.
24. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may
be justified by faith.
25. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
That is, if we have faith in Jesus Christ coupled with a truly repentant
spirit, and seek to live in the heavenly will of God.
This is what it means to be baptized into Christ.
27. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves
28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
This is the freedom and everlasting peace and life that is granted to every
true believer, and we believe to all the innocent animals.
The glory of heaven awaits us all.