His name was Legion.
He had no home, no clothes on his back, no friends. Living among the tombs, relentlessly pursued by the shadow of death, his only companions were the demons that tortured him.
How long he had lived like this he no longer remembered. His family, compelled, had forgotten him. Many times he had ventured into the city, only to be caught by his former friends who ruthlessly bound him in chains and fetters. He was never there long, for with devilish strength he broke the bands that hindered him and was driven with ferocity by the same demons into the wilds outside of Galilee.
It was no longer his mind that induced his behavior. He was wretchedly, cruelly, enslaved to these devils. When they arrived, hope died. Demons was all he knew.
It was a stormy afternoon. The winds raged over the coastline causing voluminous waves to break on the rocks below. Lightening collided with the salty atmosphere and thunder reverberated for miles. Any sane man would stay ashore on a day like this and woe to the poor fishers caught in the gale!
Suddenly, the wind ceased. The raging sea stilled. A sunbeam spilt through a rift in the dark, foreboding clouds.
Legion scrambled to his feet. Something inside his tortured soul stirred and he sprinted to the beach. A fishing boat was being pulled to shore by weather beaten men and walking toward him was a Man. He knew this Man. The demons knew this Man… and cringed.
Legion cried out in agony and fell to Christ’s feet. “What have I to do with Thee, Yahshua, Son of the Most High EL? I beseech Thee, torment me not!”
The reply was calm, quiet. “What is your name?”
The demons, legions of them, were commanded to come out of the man. But they recoiled with a plea to not be sent out into the depths of the lake. “Permit us to enter into that herd of swine feeding on the mountain, Lord?”
With His permission, the demons fled the man and permeated the swine. Startled, the herd reacted violently and running down to the cliffs, plunged into the lake and were drowned. The astounded herdsmen scattered into the city and surrounding country, telling the strange phenomenon as they ran.
What a sight met the eyes of the city folk when they gathered near the beach to see for themselves what was going on. Legion, this mad man – this devil no one could control – was sitting, clothed, at the feet of Yahshua!
Fear gripped the hearts of the multitude and they begged Yahshua to depart from their land. Who was this Man that He could cast out demons and calm storms? Whoever He was – whoever He said he was – they wanted no part of Him. “Leave! We beseech Thee!”, they cried.
Yahshua turned to see the man He had cast the demons from following Him.
“Please, allow me to come with You.” Legions eyes were pleading. How could he stay here, where his country men would not welcome the Man who saved him, let alone he himself? He imagined the dark looks, the bitter sarcasm, the criticism. “I beseech You, let me be with You!”
“Go.” Christ’s tone was gentle and quiet. “Return to thine own house and show how great these things are that Yahweh has done for thee”. With that, He boarded the fishing boat and sailed away.
Legion turned toward the city. Hesitant at first, he made his way to the city gates. A quiet strength ignited his soul. Determination gripped his step and joy lightened his heart. “Hear, O people! Hear what the Son of God has done for me!” Throughout the whole city Legion published his good news. Everywhere he went he relayed the story of his salvation from the clutch of the demons.
And people believed. They knew Legion. They had seen him as a mad man, raving and screaming as he ran from tomb to tomb. They witnessed as he was chained and dragged through the street in an attempt to confine him. Scaring children and adults alike, they avoided him like the plagues of Egypt. How could they ignore his words? How could they disbelieve his man who was transformed before them? And this Christ he talked of…what a great Man he must be! The Son of God in flesh! Could they meet Him? Would He come again after they so rudely routed Him from their country?
Finally, it came to pass. Yahshua, the Son of God, returned to the country of the Gardarenes! The multitudes thronged out to meet Him and gladly received Him into their city, for, because of the faithfulness of Legion, they were all waiting for Him to come again.
I’ve read this passage from Luke 8:26-40 so many times, but this morning it resonated with a message that I have not seen before.
Here was a man, healed by Christ, who desperately wanted to be with Christ – to follow His footsteps and live for and with Him. Yet Yahshua told him no. It sounds so harsh to me – “but Yahshua sent him away”. Return and proclaim the great things Yahweh has done, was His command.
Saul closely related to this when he said “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Phillipians 1:23-24)
Yahshua needed Legion there in his own country to spread the good news.
How often I’ve longed to be done with this world and to enter into my Savior’s presence – to live with Him forever more! It is “far better”, for sure. But my Savior has other plans for me. Those plans are to live here, in my own country, and to proclaim His goodness. To tell others what He has done for me!
I’m pretty sure that Legion could say with the Apostle Paul, “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ…”. (Phil. 1:25-26) And what a reward it must have been for him to see his country men eagerly welcome the Man they had once shunned!
This passage makes me ponder these questions…
Am I making people hungry for Christ and His salvation by the way I tell my story?
Will they gladly receive Him because they have seen the good things he has done in my life?
Am I manifesting the joy and goodness of Christ in the way I live day to day?
Will I take joy in the work that Yahshua has set before me and be content to live “apart” from Him until He chooses to call me home?
These are tough questions for me. I’m ashamed to say that I can’t always answer each one with a vibrant Yes! But I pray that I can. I pray that, like Legion, I can publish Christ in a way that will make people run to Him, “gladly receiving Him; for they were waiting for Him”.