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What Has He to Do with Me? — Luke 8:26–39

IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE ENCOUNTER OF JESUS with the Gerasene demoniac there appears the story of the stilling of the storm, in which “the wind and the raging waves” (Luke 8:24) are symbols of the fearful demonic powers of the deep that threaten to engulf us all. The story of the tormented demoniac follows as a picture of one for whom these destructive powers have become “legion.”

Tucked away in the place of the dead, the demoniac comes out of his hiding long enough to meet the One who has the power to rebuke the invisible curse. Yet this poor, captive recluse did not seem to recognize, much less desire, the available means of his release; if he did, his cynical despair did not think it possible. “What have you to do with me, Jesus…?” Nobody else had. Why should Jesus? Indeed, the dark side of reality had so overtaken and shackled the demoniac’s mind, body, and spirit that he cringed at the very thought of exposure to the One who could set him free. “I beseech you, do not torment me” (vs. 28).

Was the demoniac so long imprisoned in the darkness of self-doubt that he was afraid of his liberty? If he was unsheltered among the tombs, think how unsheltered he would be in a world that deemed him utterly crazy and irretrievably lost! “For a long time he had worn no clothes” (vs. 27). Vulnerable to the world and so completely identified with the demonic as to be called the “demoniac,” he epitomized the very thing the world is afraid of—abandonment.

Psychiatric wards, back alleys, and less obvious places are full of such people—psychotic, “possessed,” out of their minds. How remarkable that many of these divided selves, who come out so anxious—but at the same time not so anxious—to meet Jesus, raise the religious question for all of us: What have you, God, possibly to do with me, wretch that I am?

The story is a parable about us, about what to do about the staggering proportions of evil that daily take up residence within us. No one knows the extent to which this is true better than persons, any persons, whose conscious chaos matches the subconscious chaos of the demonic deep, “the lake” which even the most seaworthy traveler fears. The “abyss” within ourselves is the very region which sea-devils occupy and from which they are so reluctant to depart.

Luke suggests the preposterous possibility that Jesus really does have the power to rebuke “the wind and raging waves” in whatever form, to whatever extent they inhabit the human psyche, individually and collectively. Thus, even modern psychiatry and medicine, if they only would, could “cry out and bow down before” God (vs. 28).

The arch-demon is Fear. It stalks every spiritual burial ground. But Jesus, “Son of the Most High God,” is precisely the One who, by stilling the storm, conquers all the legions of Fear. We see that God has not abandoned us but has rendered the demons powerless, casting them into the deep.

Seated Demon by Mikhail Vrubel, 1890
COPYRIGHT © 2023 (1982)  CHARLES DAVIDSON, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
BIBLICAL QUOTATIONS FROM THE REVISED STANDARD VERSION (RSV), 1952
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AS “BIBLICAL INSIGHTS FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING,” TODAY’S WORD FOR ADULTS,
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION SHARED APPROACHES, VOL. IV, COURSE 3, APRIL 1982