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Don’t worry about these demons

February 8, 2016

Sailing back home that morning, ordinary that it might have seemed, was an unforgettable experience for me. From a distance, as we were approaching the land, we saw strange shapes floating over the water; but things were still fuzzy and unclear from there and so we easily dismissed the sight as illusion. But the more we got closer to the shore, we couldn’t deny that something was definitely wrong…

We were still thinking those were boats but as we drew near we realized they were so many to count, and so small. Canoes were bigger than those things we were seeing. And they were so many. We were all ready to affirm we’ve never seen that many boats (or whatever) afloat in one place. What could it be? Besides, it looked like they were upside down. Who could have done such an odd thing? Maybe they were hippos and could it be safer for us not to come any closer?

Getting ready to reverse course because of fear, we started hearing sounds. It was noisy out there at the shore. Trying hard to identify what looked like a large crowd gathered at the shore, we thought it was a sound of tumult. But what could have possibly happened? Why the commotion? And most importantly, for the life of us, what is that?

Mustering all the courage we had in us, we drew a bit closer and clear edges started to form on those shapes, and daring a little more, things became crystal clear. We couldn’t believe what laid before our eyes: dead pigs. Dread seized every one of us.

After having found a way to land–far from where we usually land, of course–we quickly ran where the crowd was gathered to find out what happened. It was no easy task because people were still under the shock. Allowing a look back in the water, we could only drop our jaws, widely open our eyes and feel a sudden rush of terror filling us.

You see, a great herd of swine of approximately 2,000 in number was floating over the water on the sea of the country of the Gerasenes and the reason was that demons coming from a single man entered them and rushed them, all the way from the mountain side, down the steep and they drowned. The man was in his right mind—something that terrified us even more because the man used to be living in tombs crying out and cutting himself with stones and he was with such violence that no chain could tame him.

And who did that? Who disturbed those demons? By what kind of power?

Jesus did that!

Mark 5:1-20

My natural inclination is to think logically. I like to take facts and not default into mysteries—or superstitions, as some would say. It is more acceptable to think that someone is suffering some kind of psychological or neurological disease, or something of the kind, rather than thinking he’s possessed with demons.

This story clearly rejects the idea. It provides unquestionable evidence on the existence—and evil, at the same time—of a dark spiritual evil forces. No psychological power (or disease) could be transmitted to animals like this. The scene came with real (and painful) economic consequences for that community. We can’t deny it; demons are real and they are evil.

But that is not the point of the story.

It is true that biblical teaching is not explicit (clear, concise) about how to understand the world of demons or satanic powers but that doesn’t mean that the Bible is not sufficient and trustworthy as a guide in this world where such evil is present. It just means that our attention is not to be completely taken away in that dark world, as this story makes the case.

Jesus commissions the delivered man to tell others how great God is and how He had mercy on him. That’s right: It is a story about the greatness of God and of his mercy. We don’t need to worry about these evil unseen spirits as long as we have one who is of more power than them.

Heaven forbid that the evil and the malefic power of ‘legion’ obscure the glory of the Lord’s power and mercy. Let not fascination with stories of demon-possessed people and the teachings on how to fight and subdue and avoid demons take primacy over the study of an infinitely more interesting God. Let not ‘spiritual warfare’ against unclean spirits makes less attractive the sweeter ‘communion with Christ’. Let not your ‘spiritual awareness’ be in tune to demons’ presence but more in tune to a greater protection in the shadow of the almighty God.

Allow me to go out on a limb and add this one: Do not tremble at demons but,

“Tremble, O earth at the presence of the Lord…”
Psalm 114:7


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