Sunday Message for 19 June 2022: “Soggy Swine”

 Today’s message is based on Luke 8:26-39.

Welcome to the controversy of demon possession. Christians are divided about demon possession. Despite the divisive chattering, there are valuable lessons for the discerning reader about illness and cures.

The possession story begins with Jesus’ arrival at the region of the Gerasenes, where Jesus was confronted by an angry hermit living in the cemetery near shore. The afflicted man had been previously captured by townspeople, bound by chains and guarded, only to escape again to the tombs. The man said his name was “Legion,” referencing many demons he hosted inside his twisted body.

To rid the man of his troubles, Jesus allowed the demons to possess a nearby swine herd rather than banishing them to the intriguing abyss. Now filled with demons, the tainted band of bacon ran into the lake and drown. So much for soggy breakfast strips. The people in the region were alarmed by the disturbing drama—no joke!—and asked Jesus to leave.

After this incident word spread that the formerly demon-possessed man was now healed. Moreover, the rescued man sought to become a disciple. Jesus advised him to remain and testify about his miraculous healing. It had now come full circle because a wild man who had previously run naked and bruised among graves was now Jesus’ follower.

Speaking of transformations, what’s your story? You may not have had such an extreme situation as today’s character but if God can heal a madman wandering among gravestones then there’s hope for you.

Literal truth or simply literary flourish, this possession points to something greater (and that’s where the focus must remain). As with many Bible stories, the real value is the lesson, the principle of the story. As such, it is the overall message of restoration and redemption that we’re invited to embrace. The overarching issue is that God heals. Whether Hollywood-style demons are to blame for illnesses or something entirely different doesn’t diminish the promise that God cares.

Many people want guidance from biblical stories. This means that there’s no point, for instance, in focusing on the statistical probability of demon possession or to argue about how much illness is due to demons versus an imbalance in brain chemicals or neurological impairments. Much better is it to simply realize that sickness can have various sources and folks should seek healing wherever they can find it.

The story of the Gerasenes man emphasizes the way people are plagued by debilitating problems. Again, causes of illness are varied, and modern medical science reveals insights as much as an ancient possession story. A psychiatrist could diagnose that ancient man’s symptoms as a treatable case of schizoaffective disorder, managed by a prescription and psychotherapy rather than an exorcism. Either way, realize that healing is a blessing, whether it comes from Jesus or a licensed mental health professional.

It took a village to corral the unhealed man and until Jesus came there wasn’t much hope. Humans are social creatures and God conveys blessings and healings in the context of community. This is a beautiful testimony about how we are interconnected, each person made in the spiritual image of God. Set aside for one moment the disturbing narrative of extreme American individualism and realize that we are here to help take care of one another. Compassion for the poor and sick is not weakness.

Are you struggling to overcome a problem? Are you plagued by the demons of substance abuse, addiction, bad thinking, dysfunctional relationships, depression or some other adverse condition? Help is available! God can heal you through numerous interventions while you remain faithful and are cooperating with the treatment plan.

Regardless of the causes of your ills, embrace God and demonstrate how spiritual power transforms you from within. The drama of soggy swine, desperate demons, and naked hermits aside, God is ready to help you transcend life’s challenges.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.