“Why did Jesus do what the legion of demons asked after He cast them out of the Geresene demoniac?” The question implies that Jesus can be pushed around by the whims of the devil.
It also implies that Jesus indirectly chose to kill a herd of pigs, destroying someone else’s property. When the legion of demons saw Jesus from a distance they were terrified, and begged Jesus not to torment them yet, so they asked to be sent into a herd of swine nearby. Jesus gave the okay, the demons rushed into 2000 pigs, who then ran off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee and all drowned. “Well, that wasn’t very nice of Jesus!” said one woman after I had preached on the passage. Let’s take a look at how demons work and how God deals with them:
- Though Satan is the prince of this world, God is still in total control. Because of our sinful nature that began in the Garden of Eden, we (all of humanity) have given permission for the devil to have dominion over us, bringing death, sickness and destruction. God has respected our wishes to live in rebellion against Him, so He hasn’t wiped out the devil or removed him from power… yet. The devil’s presence in the world is because we, as selfish and rebellious creatures, have chosen it.
- The devil and his demons will be cast into the Lake of Fire as eternal punishment for the evil they have done to all of God’s creation. That day is yet to come, and until then, Satan is still on the prowl, ready to devour anyone who is unprotected.
- Jesus taught that when a demon is cast out, it wanders through “dry places,” looking for another life to inhabit. (Matthew 12:43) That doesn’t mean that demons hang around Arizona or the Sahara Desert – it means that when they have no body to possess, they are thirsty for a life to inhabit. They are dry and desperate for fresh meat.
- God hasn’t left us defenseless in an evil world – He gave Jesus to rescue us from the power and dominion of the devil. We deserve hell, but instead, have the privilege to live in the protection of God, beginning the moment we hand over our entire life to Jesus, die to sin, put on God’s armor and fight the good fight. Whoever lives in this faith is safe. Whoever does not, is an open target for demons.
- God doesn’t send demons. James 1 says that it is impossible for God to tempt anyone. But He does allow demons a limited amount of space since we chose Satan over God back in the Garden. Whatever demons do to attack or destroy, can only happen within the parameters of what God allows, before the day comes of their final torment. We chose the devil – God mercifully limits him.
So Jesus didn’t torment those demons because they begged Him, it just wasn’t their time yet – and still isn’t. God allows demons limited freedom in this world to attack whatever and whoever is not covered with the protection of true faith. Jesus, the disciples and the man were all protected by the power of faith, and the disembodied demons were desperate for another life to defile. They knew it was within their limitations to enter that herd of pigs, and Jesus knew it too. The fact that the pigs became possessed and killed themselves, shows that somehow, the owner of those pigs was an open target. And if he was unprotected, his livestock and possessions were also unprotected. There was something evil already going on in that household to attract the attention of those demons, and Jesus wasn’t about to hinder them from doing what demons always do. And by the way, Jesus wasn’t destroying someone else’s property – all the earth belongs to God, and if He sees fit for livestock to die, He has all the right to do so.
These are the parameters that we live in today. The devil is still free to roam and seek out victims to devour, but as long as we have a solid faith in God, have denied our flesh and live in obedience to Jesus’ commands, we have nothing to fear. We have authority, and we are rescued saved – delivered. Don’t ever take this protection lightly. The only logical way to live is in humble gratitude. We’ve been allowed to escape hell and given rights as honored children of God, when we deserve none of it. Then, we should do all we can to rescue others from demons as well. In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters.
Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19 MEV)