by Molly Audiss
Matthew 8:31 & 32, “So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.”
Jesus and his disciples had just come across the Sea of Galilee in a boat that was tossed by a great storm. He simply spoke, “Peace be still,” and there was a great calm. Amazing! So they arrive on shore in the town of the Gadarenes and a demon-possessed man, the terror of the town, runs to meet him. (The Bible says that he fell down, under the power of the demons, and worshiped Christ. It’s interesting to point out that the devils could not help but worship because that is why they were created.) Jesus proceeds to have a conversation with the devils that have taken up residence in this man’s body. The devils are named Legion (the name of a regiment of Roman soldiers of the day, consisting of 2,000- 5,000 men). This guy had a lot of devils! The devils are fearful that Jesus is going to cast them into hell “before the time.” They fully knew what their fate is eventually going to be. But I diverge.
So the demons request that Jesus will not send them to hell but, instead, send them into a nearby herd of swine (not the greatest idea ever, but to each his own.) Jesus simply says, “Go,” and they leave the man and enter into the unsuspecting pigs, who, in turn, don’t know what hit them. They all run off a cliff and get drowned in the sea. (Poor pigs, I thought only lemmings did that, but I diverge again.) There were about 2,000 pigs, so maybe each demon got his own personal pig to terrorize! Nevertheless, it was all downhill for the porkers, because their story ends in drowning, or, as the Bible says, “they were choked in the sea.” I should say so.
So, the moral of the story is- don’t eat pork; you may choke. NO! Just kidding! Actually, where I want to focus is on the response of Christ. He demonstrates His amazing power as He simply says the word “Go; just one word, and everything changed. The possessed man got a second chance at life, thousands of demons were sent away, and many innocent pigs found out that they could not swim. (I’m having trouble staying serious with the swine part. Sorry.) Do you marvel at what all happens when Jesus Christ simply speaks one word? Imagine what it must have been like to see Him create the entire world with just a few words. “Let there be light.” His absolute authority is never questioned by all of nature, even by all of the forces of hell. Man is the only creature that defies Him, but not forever. Someday we will all fall in line with the rocks and trees and stars and animals.
There is a great lesson on authority in this passage. Jesus Christ has ultimate authority, and He is confident in the role of leadership. He gives commands throughout the Gospels in very short, easily understood words or phrases. All He had to say was “Go,” and thousands of His subjects obeyed. I found a real challenge here.Most of us have some role of authority in our lives. We are mothers, Sunday school teachers, employers, teachers, etc. When we instruct our followers, do we use the pattern of Christ? It takes someone who is secure in his role of leadership to command obedience with few words. How would you feel if you read the account of the man possessed with devils and Jesus responded to the demons in the following manner:
“Listen, I’m in charge here, and don’t you forget it! You demons don’t scare me, even if there are a lot of you. I don’t approve of what you are doing, and I am not going to put up with it for one more minute. Are you listening to my voice? You look at me when I am speaking to you! I don’t have to take any attitude from you. You just need to grow up. Don’t be telling me where you want me to send you. I’ll do it my way. You’ll go when I say go. Why are you acting this way? Didn’t I teach you better than this? I am not going to take the blame for your actions. You are on your own. Now you are going to leave this poor man alone, and I mean it! I am going to count to three, and you better be gone or else you are in big trouble!”
That kind of response would show insecurity and a lack of real leadership. Now, let me ask you, is that how you speak to your children or students? Does it take you five minutes of lecturing to put enough power in your instructions that they might be followed? Have you ever found yourself waxing eloquent with some big speech, and you realize that all your words are totally lost on your child. They are looking at you, but their mind is 1,000 miles away. I have. It doesn’t take too many useless speeches before it becomes quite clear that authority is not found in how many words you say or how loudly you can say them. Truly, the more you have to say, the less true authority you have. Jesus had to speak but one word and things happened!
We better do a reality check and decide that we are done with the screaming, done with the long lectures, done with the demeaning comments. None of it works. A few simple instructions will suffice. If we can’t get our kids to obey us, the answer is not to add more dialogue. The answer is to get to our prayer closets and beg God for His power. God can give us the security and confidence we need to lead others, but it will not come through our much speaking. If what we are doing is not getting results, we should consider changing our approach.
Join me as we pray for the wisdom to lead others as Christ led people. Let’s not lead by reaction, by emotion, by temper. Let’s lead by love, through prayer.