A Lesson From Legion's Former Host
The casting out of demons is one of the most unusual features for modern readers of the New Testament. These forces of evil are pictured as controlling their hosts, to the point of physical and mental detriment. In the accounts given of Jesus casting out demons, they would recognize Him as the Son of God, yet be silenced and forbidden from giving any testimony concerning Him. By the authority of His name, He would command them to leave their hosts and, fully under His authority, the demons complied. There was no ritual, no incantation, no crucifix, no holy water; He simply spoke and they obeyed.
Perhaps the most unusual of the accounts recording the activity of demons surrounds a man who served as host to so many that they referred to themselves as Legion (Luke 8:30). With malice, these uninvited evil guests kept their host in a state of distress to the point that he dwelt among tombs and was feared by his fellow townsman. With the arrival of Jesus, the demons knew what lay in store and begged that He not commit them back to the abyss. Instead, they begged that He release them into a herd of swine. Jesus complied, and the demons found only momentary respite from their punishment as the pigs plunged headlong into the sea. Evil never results in peace.
Their former host, once wild and feared, now sat in his rightful mind and made only one request; he asked that he might go with Jesus (vs. 38). Jesus, however had other plans; He told the man, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (vs. 39). In full compliance, he proclaimed to the entire city what Jesus had done for him.
Imagine for a moment what the actions of Jesus meant in the life of this man. Before, he had been unable to live a peaceful life and was a cast out in the desert. Before, he was feared by his countryman and was the victim and pawn of evil. The Lord, however, changed him; He took a life that was one of misery and pain and transformed it to one of peace and joy. It is no surprise that the man found it easy to laud the great work of Jesus to all who would hear.
For the people of God, there is a strong example in the life of this former demonic host. Consider the spiritual condition of one without Christ: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). While it appears a demon’s host had no control over what happened, sinners make a free choice to turn against good in favor of evil. As a result, this choice leads to death. There is, however, good news: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Just as Legion’s former host, a sinner can also be transformed by the power of Jesus. In the waters of baptism, sin is removed and its consequences thwarted. By His saving power, evil is replaced with good and fear is replaced by peace.
How, though, does a Christian act after being freed from evil? The spirit that permeated the man under consideration should characterize anyone who has come into contact with Jesus’ power for good. As he was released from the forces of evil, so, too, has a Christian been saved from Satan’s destructive power; yet, all too often, silence epitomizes the one saved by His grace. Instead of joyful proclamation, salvation is rarely mentioned. What could cause such a reaction?
There is a great danger in failing to fully appreciate what is meant by salvation. For the man controlled by demons, his salvation was clear and visible; what had once caused pain and ultimately death had been defeated by Jesus Christ. Though manifested in a different way, a Christian should have no less appreciation for the saving power of Jesus. Like the man, a Christian should loudly proclaim the saving power of Jesus, serving as a living testimony of the transformation that can take place through Him. It is only when the blackness of sin is realized that one will find the joy and willingness to proclaim the message of salvation to all who will listen.
May the children of God use each and every opportunity to allow others to know the work Jesus has done to save mankind from sin. Freed from the shackles of evil, may the saved in Christ bring this message of hope to others.
“And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him”