Sermon on Luke 8:26-39
Unity in Diversity: Troubled Minds
January 26, 2020
Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Show Video on PTSD: https://youtu.be/jVf08N1HwSE
See, Luke knows what we do not know. And Luke knows this…
- he knows what lied on the other side of the Sea,
- he knew about that cemetery,
- and he knew about the swine
- and why the swine were there in the first place.
Here is what I think Luke knew 60 years after this happened and this is why Luke includes this passage in his Gospel. The man says his name is Legion, and I believe he says that because he knew a bit about Legions. I believe this man was one of the 6000 soldiers, or a centurion, an officer in charge of 100 soldiers or perhaps a major general in charge of the legion. He is keenly aware of what a legion is and in his war-torn tortured mind feels as if 6000 demons occupy his soul. He has seen a bit of action. And the action broke his spirit and fractured his mind.
For Luke’s community Jesus is saying that this broken man has found healing by a Savior who crossed the sea to get to him. And not only that – but the very thing that broke him will not stand – this tyrannical regime of power hungry, corrupt and diabolical blood thirsty rulers. Just as the pigs fell into the sea so will Rome and all realms that oppose God’s inbreaking Kingdom of righteousness will not stand.
God has broken into human history to bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. And you and I must never lose sight of that. Mental illness is not a dirty little secret, it is real and affects everyone of us directly or indirectly. And there is healing in the name of Jesus for those whose minds are broken, for those who struggle with addiction, and for the loved ones of those who struggle with substance abuse. But we have to find a safe and healthy way and place to talk about it. And it grieves Jesus when mental illness goes unchecked and undealt with. Jesus came to set the captives free.
Jesus loves the whole human, all of us is sacred. The body, the mind, the spirit, all precious and loved. When one part suffers so are the other parts suffer with it. The mind and body and spirit are one… which may just be what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.
And when there is depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress – PTSD, we must deal with it in loving and compassionate ways. And talk about it. Because talking about it gives us permission and license to deal with it and get help and healing.
I believe this passage challenges us to remember that our veterans face difficulties assimilating back into civilian life. That PTSD is real and for many veterans. Perhaps we can talk about it knowing what God has intended for humankind and this great earth.
Perhaps knowing that there is hope for a better day for our God has not abandoned us to war and struggle.
Perhaps passages like Isaiah 2 can help re-orient our lives to faith, knowing that even this day God is at work and intervening in the human condition.
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Isaiah 2:1-5