Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 36
Matthew:8:28-34 The Healing of Two Demon-possessed Men
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:8:23-27 Jesus Calms the Storm
What is God doing?
This particular obedience of Jesus to the Father continues after the storm. We do not know if the Father's direction to Jesus comes a s a whole (as in go cast the devils out of those two across the sea in Gernesene) or in pieces (as in go across to Gernesene and await further instructions). I seems with most testimony from saints directions come more so in the piecemeal form; it is because of one's obedience of the first step that the second step is possible. Jesus exhorts us at one point to be faithful in the smaller things so that larger things can be added. This may shed light on how Jesus also is receiving these directions.
"The devils besought him"
What they seem to suggest is that there is a time appointed them for their own personal torment. This encounter according to them is before that time. If true (and one should never trust the word of devils alone) the implication is that God's judgment at present is reserved or held off till the future which further implies God is currently allowing their presence. If so it means that they are serving (at least for now) HIS purpose. Does scripture confirm this? I will leave that study to you!
There seems to be an extraordinary amount of disease and possession in Israel during the time Jesus is ministering. It could be that it has been there all along and Jesus is bringing it to light. It could be that the presence of Jesus is drawing it out. I believe that there is another scriptural indication as to what is happening.
God has invested a great deal into Israel and dealt with them in a manner like no other nation. Both Moses and later Joshua remind the nation of a pact sworn to God, a double blessing should they obey the commandments and have no other gods before HIM, a double curse should they take all that God has given and turn to other gods. We all know the path that they chose to take. Being entrusted with and sworn to uphold the oracles of God, to touch upon the Holy and to treat it as something unholy makes for double the disease and double the demonic possession if not more. This may indicate in part why Jesus is so insistent that He focus so heavily upon the children of Israel because they are afflicted because of this pact like none other.
"He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out"
Jesus does only what He sees from the Father and says only what is heard from the Father. The Father because of that obedience follows through to perform the action.
What is man doing?
These two are outside the borders of Judea I believe in modern Syria(?). We cannot however say that they were Gentile nor Jewish. Other accounts of this might suggest that at least one of the two was from the Decopolis region to the north. Because of the demonic activity within them they appeared to others as "Exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way".
With a brief look through the scriptures at the mention of devils filter:NONE devils , one cannot help but notice the attachment of worship and sacrifice both of the pagans and of the Israelites given devils. In modern circles there is the notion of severe trauma also encircling many of the possessed. Many a cult ritual is centered around the sacrifice or traumatizing violation of innocent children or individuals.
"They that kept them fled"
The keepers may not be the owners. This is a large herd. Not only do the owners derive benefit from the swine, but so do the keepers, the processors, the merchants. The herd may even be community owned. These men ran into the town to alert them to what had happend, the townspeople rush back out to the scene an uncertain distance. Claims to some are that the innocence of another can be sucked out like honey to revitalized the souls of the participating congregates.
"They besought him that he would depart out of their coasts"
This is where it is left for us to fill in the blanks. Most commentary on this passage suggests the economic loss of the swine as the motivating factor to their ungrateful request. Others suggest the town's religious involvement in these two men's possession. Observation of natural human tendencies and other world religions suggest the disassociation (even blaming) of the sick/poor/unfortunate/possessed themselves for their own misfortune; some even going as far as saying to tamper with another's misfortune is to risk having the same misfortune yourself. The other factor could be that this is a Jewish Messiah performing this unsettling miracle in a non-Jewish land. It very well could be a combination of all these things and more that make these townspeople so insistent.
Regardless of the reasoning of the people, the overwhelming message logically is that they would rather have the swine and demons in their midst than not have them and the two men liberated by the Jewish messiah.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
I think it would be wise to consider that we tend to approach our good deeds and obediences as being something welcome by others and to their benefit. Often we hold off performing them when it is sensed or emphatically stated that they are not. We also seem to focus on the reception of the victim or afflicted often to the neglect of the perceptions of the larger culture surrounding. In some countries they might even press the line of being legal or grounds for permanent expulsion. Our obedience cannot be to these several consideration, our obedience must be to the Lord alone. While it would be wise to be fully aware of these complications and oppositions, they should not sway our actions nor make for compromise otherwise we are serving others expectations and not our Lord's.
Keeping the faith of Jesus sometimes means doing what is right regardless of what is to happen trusting with patience that Jesus will take care of the rest!
Next: devotion:Matthew:9:1-8 Jesus Heals a Paralytic