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Explanation of the four Gospels
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(Mat. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-40).
Having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples arrived at a country lying on its southern bank, which Evangelists Mark and Luke call Gadarenes (after the name of one of its cities, Gadara), while Saint Matthew calls it Gergesenes (after the name of another city, Gergesa); both the cities were among the “Decapolis.”
A demon-possessed individual greeted them on the banks. Evangelists Mark and Luke speak of one person, while Saint Matthew — about two. This variance is most probably due to the fact that one of them was a well-known citizen of Gadara, demonically possessed to the extreme, while in comparison, the other individual was hardly noticed because of his subdued behaviour. The nature of the demonically possessed is such, that the demons deny the individual his senses, and in crushing his powers of reasoning, control his body and his spiritual strength, inflicting upon him unbelievable sufferings through his own actions.
Apparently the greatness and omnipotence of the Son of God that are concealed from human eyes, are apparent to demons who have complete vision, which in turn brings them terror and trepidation. And so the possessed individuals begin to cry out, calling Jesus the Son of God and begging Him not to inflict upon them the intolerable pain, which they suffered through His nearness. According to the Gospels by Mark and Luke, to Christ’s question as to what is your name, the most ferocious demon answered: “Legion” (Mark 5:9; Luke 8:30), indicating that countless numbers of demons resided in the possessed individual. The demons begged the Lord “that He would not command them to go out into the abyss” (Luke 8:31) and “that He would not send them out of the country” (Mark 5:10), but instead, permitted them to enter a nearby herd of swine, grazing on the mountain. We are not that familiar with the nature of demons, to understand why it is essential for them to reside in living beings. However, it is characteristic that they chose the most unclean, the most despised animal in the eyes of the Jews — so long as the Lord did not drive them out of the country and thereby, deprive them from operating there. The Lord allowed them to enter the herd and the swine, in going mad, threw themselves over the precipice into the sea and drowned. Apparently, the Lord wanted to enlighten the Gadaranians who, despite the directives of the Law of Moses, bred swine — and in such large numbers (according to Mark 5:13, nearly 2000).
Together with this, the situation attracted a special attention to the Lord Jesus Christ from the inhabitants, who saw the well-known demonically-possessed individual, cured and sitting at the feet of Jesus.
However, these events still didn’t enlighten them: they experienced an inexplicable terror and, in all probability, danger, thinking that the Lord’s further stay may bring them more great losses. Their feelings of regret at the loss of their pigs, triumphed over (it would be expected) the natural feelings of gratitude for the miraculous riddance of the demons from their country — and they asked Him to leave. What a huge folly on the part of those people who do not wish to have within their boundaries Him, Who appeared to destroy the devil!
Contrary to the usual prohibition by the Lord to spread word of His miracles, on this occasion directs the cured individual to return to his house and tell them what great things God had done for him. It has to be surmised that the Lord did this, because He did not have those dangers in this country that He had in Galilee and Judea. There, the depictions of the Messiah were incorrect: as an earthly leader of Israel; and the Lord didn’t want His name linked with the political desires of the Jewish patriots, wishing the overthrow of Roman rule. Apart from that, it was apparent that the Gadaranians were outstanding in their unusual religious-moral coarseness and unsociableness. Consequently, the Lord wanted to arouse their hearts with a sermon about Himself and His works through His healed demoniac (now endowed with blessings) who indeed, as Saint Mark relates, began to preach about the Lord throughout the whole land. He thus prepared the country to the ensuing Apostle’s sermons and conversion to Christ.