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Newtown Bible Church

Amazing Rejection of Jesus Christ, Pt. 2 (Matthew 8:28-34)


  • Rejection of Jesus Christ is not intellectual, philosophical, or evidential; it is spiritual and moral. Has it ever struck you as amazing that Israel’s leaders were dumbfounded with the wisdom of Christ, people were amazed at the miracles, the prophets shouted with unified voice and epitomized in John the Baptist: this is the One; this is the Christ, the Messiah. Yet, He was largely rejected and is today. 
    •  No matter how much evidence is given to the truthfulness of Scripture, the resurrection, man’s sin, the reality of a literal 6 day creation as recorded in Genesis 1, men will always reject the truth.  
    •  Therefore, everyone who knows Christ is an evidence of sovereign grace. Yet, the need for sovereign grace does not leave men with and excuse. No one will be sentenced to an eternal hell because of ignorance but because of sin and rebellion. But though men do not seek God, the glorious truth is that God seeks men: “Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.”
  • We come again to our passage and see 2 Amazing displays of Christ’s glory & grace, and man’s rejection to cause us to worship and fear. (1) Amazing Display of Christ’s Glory, Grace, & Authority;(2) Amazing Display of Man’s Sin, Unbelief, & Rejection

 

READ: Matthew 8:28-34

(1) Amazing Display of Christ’s Glory, Grace, & Authority;

Summary (28 and description of men): 

  •  As noted last week Jesus is now completing the journey He began in verse 18 and enters into the “country of the Gaderense,” or, as in Mark & Luke “region of the Geresenes,” referring to the actual town along the E. shore of the Sea of Galilee. 
    •  He comes to the shore and is “immediately”  met by two “demon possessed men.” who are “very violent.” Mark 5:3-5 fills out some details (TURN TO). To this Lk. 8:27, 29 adds: [he had not] put on any clothing for a long time … [and he would often] break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.” Such is the portrait of these two men. It is an amazing scene.  

 

(Christ’s glory displayed by their) Amazing Submission

  •  “Behold” - marking a dramatic event, here the in incredible confession of the demons. Now, Matthew goes directly to their statement, however, Mark & Luke fill it out a bit more:  
    •  Mark notes he saw Jesus “from a distance.” This  is not simply physical recognition, but implies there was a strong spiritual presence that attended the coming of Jesus. The whole spiritual realm was certainly aware of the presence of the incarnate God the Son. 
    •  So, sensing and recognizing the presence of the Son of God approaching, they run full speed - no doubt a sprint - down from the tombs, maybe letting out the same loud screams they did while was cutting themselves with stones, and they head directly to Jesus. 
    •  Now you might have expected they attacked Him, as they did to others who tried to pass by that way. However, they did something amazing; they “bowed down before Him” (Mk. 5:6). The term for worship, he falls on his knees before his master. The ones whom no one else could subdue came and prostrated themselves before Jesus with an attitude of submission, though begrudging.

 

Amazing Confession

  •  This is where Matthew picks up the account: “And behold, they cried out (or, shouted) saying, ‘What do we have to do with you, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”- An amazing and intense scene; they “cried out” - (“possible implication of the unpleasant nature of the sound”) This is not a casual, or controlled statement; this is a frantic outburst. The same root term translated as “screaming” in Mk. 5:5. Absolutely amazing confession. Mark and Luke note that the demons asked this in response to Jesus’ command for them to come out: “For He had been saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit’” (Mk 5:8). Basically, the demon(s), knowing they must obey, yet are throwing somewhat of a tantrum.  This is not a case of their resisting His power, that they must obey is a given and never in question. Let’s notice a few things here, in their amazing  confession:  
  •  (1) Recognize His superior nature: “Son of God” - Interesting that Matthew places this just after the question of the disciples: “What sort of man is this?” Here the demons supply the answer. 

“While the men in the boat are doubting what manner of man this is , that even the winds and the sea obey him, the demons come to tell them.” (Theophylact). 

  • The demons are not asking the same questions about who He is, but what is He going to do to them! These are ancient spiritual beings (been around for over 5,000 years) who had and even have and access to God unknown to humans on earth. They know perfectly well who it is before them!This was not an isolated event: Mark 3:11 “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” 
  •  
    • It was not just the demons. The Father affirmed it: 3:17 “This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”; revealed it to Peter who cried out: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (16:16)
    • Jesus affirmed it Himself when standing before the leaders of the people: (Lk. 22:66-71) “And they all said to Him, ‘Are You the Son of God, then?’ And He said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’” At which point they confirmed their intention to murder Him. 
    • Men may be slow to get it; others may hate it and reject it; but the demons know perfectly well and cannot help but give testimony. 
  • Mark and Luke inform us that Jesus also asked a question of these demons: “What is your name?” to which they replied: “My name is Legion; for we are many” (Mk. 5:9).  
    • 1) That Jesus asked his name is reflection of His Self-limitation (as God) in His humanity. Similar to the statement that, “only the Father knows” the hour of His return (Matt 24:36; Mk 13:32)
    • 2) “Legion” - referred to a Roman army unit of about 6,000 men. Jesus referred to having 12 legions (lit. 72,000 angels) at His disposal if He so chose (Matt. 26:53). The one speaking as the representative of this demonic horde; in the same way the military leader would speak for those under his charge.   
  • (2) Recognize they will be judged: “Have you come here to torment us before the time” - This is not “here” as in the region of the country, but “here” as in to earth. They are saying, “Have you come here to the earth to torture us before the time of our judgment?” FN: a clear inference to the preexistence of Christ. Now notice:  
  • (A) They clearly recognize Jesus as Judge: “have You come.” They know that it is their Judge standing before them in human form. John 5 “All judgement has been given to the Son”; *Rev. 14:10 “In the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb”)
    • It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God from whom they will hear the terrible words of final judgment; they know that. Like a guilty defendant awaiting their sentencing; the convicted criminal awaiting execution.
  • (B) They have a terrible fear of their future suffering; that it will be a time of unspeakable misery. Lk 8:28 adds “I beg You, do not torment me.” “Torment” speaks of intense mental, emotional, and physical suffering (cf. 8:6; 2 Pet. 2:8; Rev. 14:10; 20:10)
    • Lk. 8:31 “They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss .” The place where certain fallen angels who sinned in the days of Noah are kept (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), where these angels will be released from during the tribulation (Rev. 9:1-11), where the beast ascends from (Rev. 11:7; 17:8) where Satan will be bound and held in chains during the thousand year millennial reign of Christ on earth (Rev. 20:1f).
    • The demons know their end, they can read Scripture as well as we can and know the torment, the suffering, the eternal blackness and misery that awaits them (2 Pet. 2:12; Rev. 14; 20). The hell of demons will likely be far worse than that of wicked humanity because of the amount of light they sinned against (Matt. 11)
    • Demons who frighten men are yet terrified of their own coming judgment: James 2:19 “the demons believe and shudder.” The thought should send shivers of horror down the spine of men who reject Christ. It certainly did for those demons.
  • (C) That the time of judgment is fixed: “the time” - predetermined point in the future when God executes His judgement: Acts 17:31 “He fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.” When is this “time”
    • Not now, obviously, since they still have a measure of freedom granted by God. They are still active in possessing and tormenting, like these two men; active in twisting Scripture to promote deceiving false doctrine; in spiritual warfare. 
    • Not the future Tribulation period (7th week of Daniel), during which time Rev. 9:1-11, says that even those demons currently held in the place of judgment will be released for a short time for the sole purpose of torturing men who continue to reject the gospel. 
    • Also, during this time their work of deception intensifies - though under the sovereign hand of God: 2 Thess. 2:8-10 (TURN TO). 
  • Now, this judgment is going to come in two phases: 1) First is the time of Christ’s return at the end of the Tribulation period (Rev. 19:20-20:3)
    • This cannot refer to the present time because: (1) Christ has not returned and this is clearly an event after that; (2) It is impossible to reconcile Satan’s being bound with the NT presentation of His current activity of spiritual deception & destruction; (3) nor would the demons activity and request make any sense. 
  • 2) Second, at the end of the 1,000 year kingdom, Satan will be released, deceive the nations, and then finally and swiftly destroyed (Rev. 20:7-10). Next, this current creation will be destroyed and God will usher in the “New heavens and new earth.”
  • These demons know their time is short, that there is a fixed day in which they will be judged, and that Jesu is that Judge. 

Amazing Command:

  • Matthew then notes: “there was a herd of many swine feeding some from them” - an interesting, almost out of place detail at first glance. Why, in the midst of such a dramatic and radical situation, casually mention a bunch of pigs feeding on a hill side? This was not to simply paint a picturesque scene for the reader! But rather to set the stage for the demons final request. 
  • “The demons entreated Him saying, ‘If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’” -they are not demanding they are asking; submitting a request to Jesus. This is why Luke notes that they “implored Him to permit them to enter the swine.” 
    • Some suggest that the demons wanted to go into the swine to kill them and turn the town against Jesus. Possible, but not certain. In either case, that is what happened. Therefore, the most amazing part of the episode comes next: 
    • Mark and Luke note that Jesus  “And He gave them permission” (Lk. 8:32), Matthew simply records the actual command: “Go!” - a command which they responded to in forced obedience. Demons do not gladly submit to Jesus, they submit because they have to; because of the superior authority of Jesus Christ. 
  • The casting out of the demons has implications far beyond the rescue of these men - remember, Matthew is pointing to Christ. Jesus’ casting out the demons, then, is a foretaste of the future kingdom when they will forever be banished from the earth. The One who has the power to do it now, is the One who has the power to do it later. 

(1) Amazing Display of Christ’s Glory, Grace, & Authority;(2) Amazing Display of Man’s Sin, Unbelief, & Rejection

Amazing Response

  • First the response of the demons: “And they came out and went into the pigs and, behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and died (i.e. Drowned”) in the waters” - Mark 5:13 notes “there were about two thousand of them;” this must have been an incredible sight.
    • They go rushing down the “steep slope”. One can just hear the loud squealing of the pigs, the sound of the thousands of hooves rushing down the side of the nearby mountain (Mk 5:11), the dust being kicked up in the ear, and then the sound of the pigs splashing into the water to their death. 
  • Some have a problem with the fact that Jesus would allow so many animals to perish and destroy the livelihood of these herdsman. However, Jesus is the true owner and ruler of His creation and God owes sinners nothing.  He is going to destroy the whole universe at the appointed time anyway.  Furthermore, it proves the expulsion of the demons from the men.
    • However, the most compelling reason may be that killing the pigs gave an opportunity to test and show what was truly in the hearts of these people: rebellion and unbelief. 
  • Notice, second, the response of the “herdsmen” who were watching the whole thing: “fled, and went into the city reported everything, even about those demon possessed” - can just imagine the hysteria of those reporting these events. “Listen, listen, you are not going to believe this! You know the man possessed by the demons, the one that lives in the tombs, they who scream all night and day and gash’s himself with stones. The one whom we could not restrain and frightened us continually and caused us not to walk by the way. A man came in a boat with 11 others and the demon possessed man came up and bowed down to Him …” 
  • Of course they were amazed; a normal reaction to such incredible news. Mark records that when the crowds of people from the city rushed out the spot where the man had been: “They  came to Jesus and  observed the man who had been  demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and  in his right mind,”; and they “became frightened” (Mk 5:15)
    • Just like the sea that became perfectly calm; Peter’s mother in law that immediately started serving, so here the power of Jesus is put on display.
    • This man had been delivered from the clutches of Satan; completely restored. 
    • The expected response would be that of joy, elation at such a display of grace and mercy. Gratitude for giving back one of their sons to them. 
  • You would expect them to rush out and say: “What sort of man is this that even the demons obey Him? Tell us who you are, what does this demonstration of such power mean?” That would be the most reasonable response, but they did not.

Amazing Rejection

  • “and behold, the whole city came to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they [and you would expect to hear …] entreated Him to leave their region” - absolutely incredible. Not a single person recorded as seeking to know who this Jesus is; not a single person amazed at such a demonstration of power - not to destroy but to heal; not a single inquiry recorded as to who is this One to whom even the demons submit, though they could not do it with guards and chains. 
    • Instead they implore Him to leave [same term used by the demons when they implored Him to send them into the swine]. Amazing. Tragic. Why?
  • (A) One reason is very likely the loss of revenue; this would have been a huge financial loss. The pigs floating in the water made them see only the loss of revenue, not the gain of the freedom of two souls.
    • In this way they model many today who reject Christ because of what it might cost them in relation to this world (job, promotion, relationships, etc.).
  • (B) Because they were in the presence of such holy power it struck fear in them; a common reaction to the presence of Deity, even among God’s own. To be in the presence of God, even veiled in human flesh, is to strike fear in the human soul. 
    • There will be doubly no excuse, and double the punishment when these people stand before Him (cf. Matt. 11 “Woe to Chorazin, for if the miracles …”)
    • Other’s sometimes say: “If only I could see a miracle.” (Lk. 16 “They have the Law and the Prophets”)
    • Once revelation of Christ is rejected continually, or after such a great display, there is the danger of having an judicial hardening of the heart by God (Rom. 1 “God gave them over”). What more can God do (Heb. 10 “willfully rejecting after receiving …”)
    • I did this for years. I knew about Christ; yet I hated Him and wanted nothing to do with Him because it interfered with me fulfilling my own will, my own desires. I rejected Him and wanted Him to leave and stay away. I had no more room or desire for Him in my life than these people did in their town. I praise God He did not stay away. 
    • Some of you are doing that right now. You have been and are continually being confronted with the reality of Jesus Christ and you are telling Him I have no interest, You are a hindrance to me, I have no room and no desire for you, though you know it is real; that He is true. 
    • Don’t be foolish, you may say that and He may go and stay away for good, tragic, if you stay in that condition then you will be with these demons in the same hell created for them and you. The demons have no chance of salvation. You do. There is a time, however, when it is to late. 
  • What happened with this man? Mark 5:18-20 tells us that he asked to follow Jesus, indicating he was truly converted; but Jesus told him, instead to “ Go home to your people and report to them  what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 
    • So, Jesus left, but He did not leave Himself without a witness. 
  • But I want you to notice one last detail, that might easily be passed over.  Mark records that after this incident Jesus departed back across the Sea with His disciples. Remember that every detail of Christ’s life was a display of God’s sovereign will - He only did what He saw the Father doing and always did what was pleasing to God, perfectly. 
  • Therefore, His trip across the Sea to meet these demon possessed men was the sovereign will of God, and apparently the only reason that He went to that town. This is an incredible display of sovereign grace in the life of this demoniac! A portrait of a life totally under the power of the evil one, a life of violence and shame, a tortured soul awaiting an eternity of judgment; hopeless, desperate and totally enslaved. Yet, here is the eternal Son of God incarnate, who Himself is sent to this man by the Father under the direction of the God the Holy Spirit to free him and release him from the oppression of the demons and even from the guilt of his own sin. 
    • He woke up that morning as a hell bound, demon possessed soul destroyed and ravished by sin. Yet, by the end of that day; a ransomed, forgiven, restored child of God, even now enjoying the delights of heaven. Once possessed by a demon, now in eternal spiritual union and fellowship with the Triune God, in the presence of the holy angels and all the saints who have gone before him. 
    • We, who know Christ, will meet this man in heaven and worship God with him. This is sovereign grace. Amazing. And no less amazing and no less meant to produce grace filled worship and obedience in anyone here who knows Christ than for this man. Every Christian, like this man, was once “dead in trespasses and sin,” indulging our sinful lusts, living in the “futility of” our minds, “held captive by Satan to do his will,” having minds blinded to the truth of God in Christ. But God, rich in mercy, made us “alive together with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly place … by grace you have been saved … to the praise of the glory of His grace” in Christ Jesus. 
    • This grace we have been shown is the grace that produces in us humility, gratitude, love, obedience. It is the grace offered that calls all to come and trust such a might and gracious Savior. 
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