Matthew 8:28-34 (the message)

They landed in the country of the Gadarenes and were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery.  The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down that stretch of road anymore.  Seeing Jesus, the madmen screamed out, “What business do you have giving us a hard time?  You’re the Son of God!  You weren’t supposed to show up here yet!”  Off in the distance a herd of pigs was browsing and rooting.  The evil spirits begged Jesus, “If you kick us out of these men, let us live in the pigs.”
     Jesus said, “Go ahead, but get out of here!”  Crazed, the pigs stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.  Scared to death, the swineherds bolted.  They told everyone back in town what had happened to the madmen and the pigs.  Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs.  A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back.

When I read this scripture I get stuck on the reaction of the towns people.  These two men, very disturbed and controlled by demon spirits, had terrorized the people to the extent they wouldn’t walk past the cemetery.  Now here comes Jesus and He casts the demons out of these men and brings great freedom to not only the two madmen, but the people affected by them.  And their reaction?  They are upset and angry about the pigs.  They told Jesus to get out and never come back!

The people aren’t excited and celebrating about the deliverance of these men.  They are not really stopping long enough to consider the freedom Jesus has just provided for these men, their families and the community.  They seem, at least to me, to be fully absorbed with what someone else’s freedom cost them.  The pigs drowned, yes.  But as I read this story, I wonder why the people couldn’t trust that this wonderful, compassionate Jesus would not leave them pigless?  I wonder what would have happened if the towns people had found Jesus to praise Him…to thank Him…to worship Him.  I realize the swineherds probably never had seen such a thing…pigs stampeding over a cliff and drowning at the word of a Man!  I don’t doubt it was an eye-opening and astonishing experience!  However, the swineherds let fear overcome them and then rushed out to spread their fear and self-concern to the others.  Instead of experiencing God’s provision and the miraculous for the town, the people sealed their new pigless state by resisting and refusing the Miracle-Worker.  See, I really believe if the people could have gotten past themselves and what they thought someone else’s miracle was costing them personally, they would have experienced a miracle themselves.  Jesus is good.  He’s loving.  He traveled around healing and delivering and multiplying!  I don’t think Jesus would have left them pigless.

So, what about us?  I can’t help but think of my own attitudes about what deliverance and healing for others might cost me.  See, our Jesus is still sending demons packing. He is still healing minds, bodies and marriages.  Jesus is still setting the captives free. He is still touching lives.  Jesus is still in the business of deliverance, restoration and redemption.  How does my heart react when Jesus comes near to work in the lives of those around me?  Do I celebrate and stop to praise Him…thank Him…worship Him? Or like the swineherds, do I find myself fearful of what it’s going to cost me?  Do I, like the towns people, grow angry and resentful that someone else’s deliverance inconvenienced me in some way?  When Jesus asks me to trust Him with  my time, my energy, and my willingness to give so He can touch others through me do I in fact trust Him?  Do I believe that even if it seems to cost me time or energy or even money, He will redeem what I give Him?  Do I truly believe that Jesus isn’t asking me to give and sacrifice to only leave me empty-handed?  Do I know Him well enough to know that He won’t leave me pigless?

We must always, always remember that Jesus sees what we give!  He sees the “cost” of time, energy and our determination to serve Him faithfully.  The enemy wants to bait us, just like the towns people, into becoming apathetic or resentful of the cost.  But in taking the bait we are robbed of the miraculous provision and blessing Jesus wants to provide for us as we give.  If Jesus delights in setting people free, how much  more does He delight in blessing and filling those He uses in the process?  Oh, how we can trust Him.  Oh, how we can let go and give Him all that He asks of us…trusting in His goodness towards us.  Trusting in the glorious riches of a Creator who promises in His Word that all good things come from Him, the Father of Lights.  We need not fear or resist a seemingly “pigless” moment when our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills…

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