The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2


Chapter 26—Men from the Tombs

The night upon the water was over, and in the early morning Jesus and the disciples landed, together with those who had followed them across the sea. But no sooner had they stepped upon the beach than two men possessed with devils rushed fiercely toward them as though they desired to tear them in pieces. Still clinging to them were parts of chains which they had broken, in escaping from confinement. They were cutting and bruising themselves with sharp stones and other missiles that they could lay their hands upon. They had been dwelling among the graves, and no traveler had been safe to pass that way; for they would rush upon him with the fury of demons and kill him if they could. Their faces glared out from their long and matted hair, and they looked more like wild beasts than men. 2SP 311.1

When the disciples and the others saw these fearful creatures rushing toward them, they fled in terror. But presently they discovered that Jesus was not with them, and they turned to see what had been his fate. They beheld him standing calmly where they had left him. He who stilled the tempest, he who had met Satan before and conquered him, did not flee before these demons. When the men, gnashing their teeth, and foaming at the mouth, approached him within a few feet, Jesus raised that hand which had beckoned the waves to rest, and the men could come no nearer. They stood raging but helpless before him. 2SP 311.2

In accents of authority he bade the unclean spirits come out of them. The words of Jesus penetrated the darkened minds of the men enough for them to dimly realize that One was near who could save them from the demons that tormented them. They fell at the feet of Jesus, worshiping him. But when they opened their mouths to entreat his mercy, the demon spoke through them and cried vehemently, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God, I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not!” 2SP 312.1

Jesus asked, “What is thy name?” and the answer was, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Using the afflicted men as mediums of communication between themselves and Jesus, they besought him not to send them away out of the country, but to let them enter into a herd of swine that was feeding near. Their request was granted; but no sooner did this occur than the swine rushed headlong down a steep precipice, and were drowned in the sea. Light dawned upon the minds of the restored lunatics. Their eyes beamed with an intelligence to which they had long been strangers. The countenances, so long deformed into the image of Satan, became suddenly mild, the blood-stained hands were quiet, and the men praised the Lord for their deliverance from the bondage of demons. 2SP 312.2

The design of Satan, in requesting that the demons might enter into the swine, was to hedge up the way of Jesus in that region. By causing the swine to be destroyed, considerable loss was brought upon their owners; and the enemy was not deceived in thinking that this circumstance would occasion Jesus to be held in disfavor throughout that country. The keepers of the swine had seen with amazement the whole transaction. They had seen the raving madmen suddenly become sane and calm; they had beheld the whole drove of swine instantly afterward charge recklessly into the sea where they were immediately drowned. They were obliged to account to the owners for their loss; and they immediately hurried to publish the news to their employers, and to all the people. This destruction of property seemed, to the owners, of far greater magnitude than the joyful fact that two lunatics had been restored to reason, and no longer endangered the people who came in their way, nor needed the restrictions of bolts and chains. 2SP 312.3

These selfish men cared not that these unfortunate beings were now liberated, and sat calmly and intelligently at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words of instruction, filled with gratitude and glorifying the name of Him who had made them whole. They only cared for the property they had lost, and they were fearful of still greater calamities following the presence of this stranger in their midst. A panic spread far and near; the citizens apprehended financial ruin. A crowd came to Jesus, deploring the recent loss of property and begging him to leave their vicinity. They looked with indifference upon the lunatics who had been healed, and were then conversing intelligently with Jesus. They knew them perfectly well, for they had long been the terror of the community. But the miraculous cure of these men seemed of lesser importance than their own selfish interests. They were thoroughly alarmed and displeased at their loss; and the prospect of Jesus remaining among them filled them with apprehension. They implored him to depart from their coast. The Saviour complied with their demands, and immediately took ship with his disciples and left them to their avarice and unbelief. 2SP 313.1

The inhabitants had before them living evidences of the power and mercy of Him whom they drove from their midst. They saw that the lunatics had been restored to reason; but they were so fearful of incurring pecuniary loss that the Saviour, who had baffled the Prince of Darkness before their eyes, was treated as an unwelcome invader, and they turned the priceless Gift of Heaven from their doors, and blindly rejected his visit of mercy. We have not the opportunity of turning from the person of Christ, as did the Gadarenes; but there are many in these days who refuse to follow his teachings, because in so doing they must sacrifice some worldly interest. Many, in the various pursuits of life, turn Jesus from their hearts, fearful that his presence may cost them pecuniary loss. Like the selfish Gadarenes, they overlook his grace, and ruthlessly drive his Spirit from them. To such his words apply: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” 2SP 314.1

Some may reason that the course pursued by Jesus in this matter prevented the people of that region from receiving his doctrine, that this startling exhibition of his power turned them away from his teachings, and cut them off from his influence. But such minds fail to penetrate the plans of the Saviour. At the time that the Gadarenes besought Jesus to leave their coast, there was also a petition offered by the restored lunatics. It was that they might accompany their Deliverer. In his presence they felt secure from the demons that had tormented their lives and wasted their manhood. They kept close to his side as he was about to enter the boat, knelt at his feet and implored him to take them with him and teach them his truth. But Jesus directed them to go home to their friends, and tell them what great things the Lord had done for them. 2SP 314.2

Here a work was given them to do,—to go to a heathen home, and impart to their friends the light that they had received from Jesus. They might have plead that it was a great trial to be separated from their Benefactor at this early stage of their experience, and that it was more congenial to their feelings to remain with him than to be exposed to the trials and difficulties that were sure to beset them in the course he directed them to pursue. They might also have plead that their long isolation from society disqualified them for the task he had given them. 2SP 315.1

But instead of this, as soon as Jesus pointed out the path of duty, they prepared to follow it. Not only did they enlighten their own households and neighbors in regard to Jesus, but they proclaimed his power to save throughout the region of Decapolis, among the Gentiles, telling the wonderful work of Christ in casting out the demons. The people of that region had refused to receive the Saviour because he was the means of destroying their property, yet they were not left in utter darkness; for they had not committed the sin of rejecting his doctrine, since they had not heard it when they bade him leave their coast. His words of life had not fallen upon their ears. Therefore he commissioned those who were so recently the mediums of Satan to communicate the light they had received from him to those benighted people. Those who had so lately been the representatives of the Prince of Darkness were converted into channels of truth, servants of the Son of God. 2SP 315.2

Men marveled as they listened to the wondrous news. They became interested and anxious to have part in this kingdom of which Jesus taught. Nothing could have awakened the people of this country so thoroughly as did this occurrence happening in their midst. They had only cared for the advantages of the world, and had thought little of their eternal interests. Jesus cared much more for their real good than they did themselves. He had permitted the devil's request to be granted, and the result was the destruction of their property. This loss raised the indignation of the people, and brought Jesus directly before the public notice. Although they entreated him to depart from them, they nevertheless saw and heard the men whom he had healed. When these persons, who had been the terror of the community, became the messengers of truth and taught the salvation of Jesus, they wielded a powerful influence to convince the people of that region that Jesus was the Son of God. 2SP 316.1

They sent Jesus from their coast because they feared additional loss of property, notwithstanding those who had crossed the lake with him told them the peril of the previous night, and the miracle performed by the Saviour in stilling the tempest. Their eyes, blinded by worldliness, only saw the magnitude of their loss. They refused to consider the advantage of having One among them who could control the very elements by the lifting of his finger, cast out demons, and heal the diseased and imbecile by a word or the touch of his hand. The visible evidence of Satan's power was among them. The Prince of Light and the Prince of Darkness met, and all present beheld the supremacy of the one over the other. Yet seeing this they begged the Son of God to depart from them. He gratified their wish; for he never urges his presence where he is unwelcome. 2SP 316.2

Satan is the God of the world; his influence is to pervert the senses, control the human mind for evil, and drive his victims to violence and crime. He sows discord and darkens the intellect. The work of Christ is to break his power over the children of men. Yet how many in every department of life, in the home, in business transactions, and in the church, turn Jesus from their doors but let the hateful monster in. 2SP 317.1

It is no wonder that violence and crime have spread over the earth, and moral darkness, like the pall of death, shrouds the cities and habitations of men. Satan controls many households, people, and churches. He watches the indications of moral corruption, and introduces his specious temptations, carefully leading men into worse and worse evils, till utter depravity is the result. The only safety is to watch unto prayer against his devices; for he goes about, in the last days, like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The presence of Jesus is a safe-guard against his advances. The Sun of Righteousness discloses the hideous blackness of the enemy of souls, and he flies from the divine presence. 2SP 317.2

Many professed Christians of our time banish Jesus from them for the sake of worldly gain. They may not use the exact words of the Gadarenes, but their acts plainly indicate, that, in their various avocations, they do not desire his presence. The world is exalted above his mercy. The love of gain crowds out the love of Christ. They heed not his injunctions, they slight his reproofs. By dishonesty and avaricious scheming, they virtually petition the blessed Saviour to depart from them. 2SP 317.3