Matthew 8:28-34 — Like the Miami Hurricanes of the 80’s, My Jesus Got Some Swagger — Intimidating the Opposition!

Posted: November 8, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 8:28-34
Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men, Part 1

Today, we begin a four part look at Matthew 8:28-34. First, we will look at Jesus’ command of the situation. Second, we will look at what it means and why it was important that Matthew mentioned that Jesus went to the region of the Gadarenes. Third, we will look at the results of succumbing to evil in the lives of the demon-possessed men. Finally, we will look at the response to Jesus’ presence and his actions.
Today, let us consider Jesus’ command of this situation. His command over evil is quite a contrast to popular culture today. In modern horror movies, we often see the ineffectiveness of good vs. evil. Movies featuring demons, demon-possessed people, or even Satan himself often display that which is satanic in nature is more powerful than good and often more powerful than God Himself. You often see people conquer evil in the movies only through luck, a little ingenuity, and not doing the stupid stuff that people do in horror movies. I love the spoof of horror movies done in the commercial by GEICO. The kids are running out of a field, apparently running for their lives, and instead of jumping in the vehicle that already cranked up and idling and is sitting out in the open (easy getaway), they decide it is safer to hide in a shed full of sharp field knives and chainsaws. Hilarious! However, we are training our culture to believe that evil is greater than God. Evil has no match. This type of ideology sells tickets. For some reason, people find it plausible that we are powerless against evil, against Satan himself. In today’s passage and throughout the gospels when we see Jesus confront satanic forces, they are no match for Jesus. In this passage, we read as follows:
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
The first thing that you notice here is that the demons possessing these two men know who Jesus is. Imagine that! What do you want with us, Son of God? They have respect for him and even fear Him. Why is that demons know who Jesus is? That is way in contrast to the popular culture belief about Satan and his minions. If we believe popular culture, the demons would not have had any respect for Jesus. They would have said, “What are you doing here, you puny little man sent from a puny little God?” But, that is not what happens here at all. The demons possessing these men immediately know that they have met their match. And each and every time in the gospels that Jesus confronts evil spirits, he has great command of them.
It kind of reminds you of the great University of Miami Hurricane football teams of the 1980’s and early 90’s. Those teams were exceedingly talented but more than that they were ultimately confident. Their confidence, swagger, and some say, arrogance, won them some ball games. The air of superiority exuded from them that it psychologically intimidated other teams. Miami back then walked on the field expecting to win. Although the excesses of success and unchecked donors brought that program to its knees, that era was the era of Miami swagger. Few times had that success and that confidence. Although I am in no way comparing Jesus to the excesses of the University of Miami football program in the 1980s and early 90’s, the fear that “The U” caused in many of their opponents to the point that they had already lost the game before they went on the field is what I want to compare. There were very few teams that Miami played that did not feel intimidated by them. Maybe, Florida State through those years and 1992 Alabama were the only teams that were not intimidated. Pretty much everyone else was though. That fear instilled by simply stepping on the field is what I am wanting you to see. The demons in this scene already knew they were defeated as Jesus stepped foot on the playing field in this scene. There had been no confrontation. Yet, they were already defeated by the mere presence of “The J” (Jesus).
Why is it that the demons were intimidated to the point of wetting in the pants? Let us go back to Genesis 1 and John 1. Nothing existed before God. Nothing. Everything was created by God as noted in Genesis 1. Satan and God are not both pre-existent to Creation. In John 1, we see that Jesus existed with the Father in the Holy Trinity in all of eternity before creation. The universe was created through Jesus because Jesus and God are one and the same. God created the angels of which Satan and his minions were part of that creation. God created Satan and through the free will that God gave the angels just as He gives us, Satan grew prideful and wanted God’s job. He was cast out of heaven by God. He was created and then banished. Remember, he was created. He does not co-exist with God. He is subject to God. Therein lies our lesson for today.
God is greater than evil. God is greater than Satan. We see it here. The demons cower in the presence of God. They know that they are no match for God. He is the Creator. They are created. He possesses all power. Demons and Satan only have the power we give them. In the absence of that, they are powerless and weak. When we invoke Jesus’ name, they run away. Think about that when you fear evil. Call on Jesus’ name. Think about that when you are down and out and need someone to pull you out of the disaster of your life. Call on Jesus’ name. Even Satan cowers at the mention of His name. Just look at this scene! Jesus walks on to the playing field and approaches the other team and immediately they are intimidated. Now, that’s my Jesus! He is not some peace/love/dove radical hippie that only talks about getting along. He is the Ruler of the Universe. Everything is subject to Him. Everything! Including Satan! Back off, Satan. Jesus is here with me. He has swagger. He is the supremely confident Supreme Being! He walks on the field and demons are intimidated to the point of conceding defeat before one down of the game is played. That’s my Jesus! Jesus is bigger than any demon. Jesus is bigger than Satan. Jesus is bigger than anything that I have to deal with in life. That’s my Jesus!

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