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Set Free

June 19, 2022 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Lectionary

Topic: Biblical Verse: Luke 8:26–8:39

The Second Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 8:26-39

June 19, 2022

 “Set Free”

The message for today is done as a monologue from the perspective of the Gerasene man from whom Jesus cast out the demons as told in Luke 8:26-39.

I stand here in front of you, clothed and in my right mind. This wasn’t always the case for me. My story is strange and bizarre, but it is a story that needs to be told, and so I share it with you now.

I’m not really sure how it all happened—when life started to unravel. Looking back on it all, things seem muddled and unclear. Friends and family have helped fill in the blanks for me on those things that I don’t remember. It’s probably just as well that I do not remember everything. I’m told that people of your own time scoff at the idea of the demonic. You have no idea how weak and vulnerable you really are! I, too, thought I was strong, capable and in control of my life. I was the master of my own destiny, and wanted to have everything that life could give me. It wanted it all, and I was more than willing to do whatever it took to have it all. But little did I realize how high a price I would pay for this selfish ambition. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, my life began to take on a dark side. I seemed to be led deeper and deeper into things that on the surface looked rather harmless enough, but once inside, I was held captive to something that clearly was bent on my destruction. People tried to warn me. They said I was acting strange. They said I had a wild and terrifying look in my eyes. My appearance, my speech, my behavior – everything about me degenerated into something sub-human. I became like a wild animal. People tried to intervene, but it did no good. I was out of control, or rather under control by forces that had taken over my very life. I abandoned my own home and family. I lived among the dead – graves and tombs; amidst corpses and bones. I no longer wore clothes. I was unclean and filthy. To ensure their safety—and perhaps my own as well – local citizens attempted to put me in chains and shackles. They had no idea of the power I possessed, or rather, that possessed me. I easily broke off the chains, and was compelled to run back into the wilderness, away from the company of people, to do the bidding of that which I was a slave to. I was without hope, and the evil that controlled me seemed to relish this more than anything.

And then He came. As soon as He stepped out of that boat, I was there before Him, kneeling at his feet. How I got there, I have no idea. This guttural shriek burst forth out of my mouth: “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Luke 8:28). Whatever power that had control over me realized that here, standing before me, was another Power far greater than itself. It had to obey Him. For the first time in in a very long time, there was a faint glimmer of hope for me. He asked, “What is your name?” The question wasn’t asked of me, but of that which inhabited me. The voice responded, “Legion.” Legion – 4000 to 6000 soldiers were a legion of the Roman army. Can you imagine? That’s what was in me; controlling me. The voices of that legion began to beg for mercy – mercy! These things, these unseen forces, that had exerted such power over my life were powerless before this Man! They begged Him not to send them back to the abyss, their prison. They pleaded with Him to send them into a big herd of pigs there by the sea, and that’s what He did. They fled from me immediately, convulsing me with spasms. At last, at long last, I was free. People say pigs are dumb animals. I beg to differ. They knew what had come into them, and they wanted nothing to do with it. When the demons that were in me entered those pigs, the whole herd immediately rushed down into the sea, and was drowned.  That’s when everybody really started to freak out! People scattered in all directions, and before long a crowd gathered around to see everything that had happened. They came to see the herd of pigs floating out there in the water, but I think they really came to see the crazy man now in his right mind. Nobody could believe it, especially me. It seemed unreal; too good to be true. I was set free.

All of this was just too much for everyone. They couldn’t handle it, and so they asked this Man,  this Healer, to leave them; to go away. I think they were afraid of Him; of what He could do. Not me! I was on the receiving end of what He could do, and I knew that whatever power He had, He used it for good. The fear and terror that once had dominated my life was now taken over by joy and thanksgiving. My life had been restored; given back to me. He didn’t just heal me; He saved me. Well, that Man did what the people wanted Him to do. He started to leave, but I had to go with Him. I had to be with Him. He had given me my life back! I begged Him to let me come with Him. Gently but firmly, He told me no. Instead, He said that I should go back to my own people and tell them how much God had done for me. No problem there! How could I not tell everyone I met what God had done for me? And that’s what I’m still doing – telling how much God has done for me.

I don’t wish upon anyone what I went through. It was hell, literally. Maybe your story is like mine. Maybe you feel that you are enslaved to powers that are bent on your destruction, and you feel absolutely powerless over them. I can only tell you that there really is a Power like no other, and that Power can set you free. That Power wants to set you free! If Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, could set me free, there is hope for you, and for anyone who feels trapped in a very dark place; caught in a downward deathward spiral. If Jesus could do all of this for me, just imagine what He can do for you.

That’s my story. The more I tell it, the more I’m convinced that it’s not my story at all. It’s His story. Amen.

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