When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.
When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”
For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
In Luke’s Gospel (chapter 8), there is a story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man. The man is filled with multiple demons and Jesus casts them out sending them into a herd of pigs; and the pigs rush off the embankment into the water.
I have studied this passage on several occasions with several different groups; some Christians, some pre-Christians. I am amazed that time and again the group becomes obsessed with the pigs. They cannot understand why Jesus would send the demons into the pigs. They want to know why Jesus allowed the pigs to rush off the cliff and drown; after all, it was the town’s lively hood. They simply continue to focus on the pigs. It is how our culture works; it’s just the way we think.
The pigs of Luke’s account really have nothing to do with the story. The story is about a man healed. But there is something to learn from the reaction to the story. The Church has become obsessed with the “pigs”. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about the demon-possessed man. We simply ignore that this man, who was running through the town naked and out of his mind, was now sitting at Jesus’ feet.
But missional leaders are more concerned about the man than the pigs. We must concern ourselves with the things that matter to Jesus. Jesus was concerned about the man, not the pigs. He knew the town had more than it needed. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that if we take care of the person, He will take care of the pigs.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. And let us fix our eyes on the ones Jesus has called us to reach.