Luke 8 v 39. “Return home and tell how much God has done for you”.

Luke spends four verses (vs 34-39) describing the response of the townspeople to Christ’s deliverance of the poor demoniac. You would have thought that they would have been amazed and delighted. We would expect them to rush into town to spread the good news, to welcome this great authoritative teacher into the village, to bring their sick and afflicted to him. Would you not expect that? But on the contrary they reject him and ask him to leave. Isn’t that amazing? Why should this be?

Remember some of the local townspeople who were asking Jesus to leave, might well have been among the very number who previously had tried to chain the violent man. Luke tells us why they reacted in this way. In v 35 he says “they were afraid”. In v 38 he says “they were overcome with fear”. What are they afraid of? I think it is the whole changed scene, which they cannot comprehend. Instead of a cursing madman, they now saw a man clothed and in his right mind, sitting meekly at the feet of Jesus receiving His Word. The most probable thing is that they were afraid of Christ Himself. They were afraid of his supernatural power to cast out demons. Jesus was mysterious to them. They could not understand the change that had come over the man. As familiar as they might be, to the power of the evil entities possessing the man, the greater supernatural power of Christ that brought about the change, was what frightened them.

This is a sad comment on human nature. But we know it only too well, in other contexts in our own society. As long as a person goes along with the general flow of living, with all its possible sinful twists and turns, all is well. But let one person break the cycle and become a Christian and the old hostility to God surfaces. How sad that many people would prefer to have their family and friends to drink and carouse with them, and call it normal, than to see them finding hope and fulfilment in Christ.

Of course the financial implications of the destruction of the pigs could also have a bearing on the villagers’ rejection of Christ. It’s costly to have Christ around. Sacrifices have to be made. When Jesus is present He brings light and salvation. He builds up and never breaks down. But that may mean that the old order will have to go.

Luke ends this story with the man’s request to accompany Christ which was a great thing for him to desire. But the man was sent back to his family and his town to be a witness. Who knows what impact he had on his hearers! And who knows what impact you will have as you share your own story of Christ’s love in your life!