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When Jesus and his disciples arrived on the shore they were met by a man possessed by demons. Luke records details of this amazing and instructive encounter.

The spirits in the man recognised the true identity of Jesus, addressing him as: 'Jesus, Son of the Most High God'.

When Jesus asks 'What is your name?' we learn that Jesus is here confronted by not just one, but by a 'legion' of spirits. A legion numbers anything from three thousand to six thousand. Imagine this contest: one man, Jesus, the Son of God, versus as many as six thousand evil spirits.

Our minds cannot really grasp hold of that, and this very difficulty is evidence of the greatness of Jesus' power and authority. Alone he stands against this legion of evil.

So aware are these spirits of the authority of this one man that they cringe before him begging his permission to go into the herd of pigs when they come out of the man. They know that they have to leave the man. They know they cannot enter the pigs without Jesus' permission. We can almost see them cowering with fear in his presence.

The power of this incident is not lost on the people in the nearby town. They hear the report of what has happened. They come to see if it is true. They see the man totally changed. They see, perhaps, the bodies of the pigs floating in the lake. They hear the story again from those who saw it happen.

And they cannot handle it. They cannot bear to have this powerful person in their town. In their fear they keep on begging him to go away. Afraid of his power. Afraid of his authority. He is too big for them - one man against six thousand demons! They would rather have had the mad man. They would rather have had their herd of pigs. They would rather have had the demons.

Any of these, but not the Son of God!

Within the report of this incredible encounter with Jesus is a message and a challenge for us all: here in our midst stands the One to whom all authority is given, here in our midst stands the Lord of all. Shall we, like the inhabitants of this town, reject him and send him away? Or will we, like this one man, commit ourselves to him as his subjects?

Scriptures: Luke 8:26-39; Matthew 28:18; John 5:22-23

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008.