Matthew 8:28-34 (ESV)
28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
Jesus had just calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the fourth of the ten miracles recorded in chapters 8 and 9, and now he and the disciples arrived ashore in the country called the Gadarenes, which was the land of the Gentiles. This was unclean territory; the Jews would never be found herding pigs as their non-Jewish neighbors did. When Jesus walked past the local cemetery, two violent, demon-possessed men approached him. The demons in these men knew who Jesus was, and they addressed him as the Son of God. They literally screamed at Jesus, telling him that it wasn’t the time for their torment in hell yet. Then, when they realized that Jesus was going to command them to leave the men’s bodies, they pleaded to be sent into the herd of unclean animals nearby. After Jesus performed the fifth of the ten miracles, casting the evil spirits out of the men, the pigs ran down the hill and drowned themselves. Wow! What a sight that must have been! But now the herdsmen were in big trouble. The entire group of possibly 2000 pigs was dead. What would they tell their bosses, and how would they explain this great loss? They rushed back to town to let everyone know that it was all Jesus’ fault.
Instead of welcoming Jesus, the one who had all authority over the unseen realm and who had just freed two of their fellow humans from demonic bondage, he townspeople rejected him and pleaded with him to leave. If Jesus’ presence meant financial loss for them, then get him out! It’s sad that the local people were more upset by the death of their pigs than they were gladdened by the deliverance of the two men. We live in a world in which finances and material goods are given supreme importance. What if Jesus came to your town and everyone lost their homes as a result? Would you welcome him, or would you tell him to go away? What if your community suffered monetary loss, but two men were saved? Would it be worth it to you? Reports like this remind us that eternal souls are more important than stuff. Let’s make sure we value Jesus more than our bank accounts. Pray for a proper attitude toward your money and things today. And be willing to part with some of your resources so that others might be spared.