The Maniac of Gadara
By Christmas Evans
Welsh Baptist Evangelist
“And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs” (Luke 8:27).
I imagine that this Demoniac was not only an object of pity, but he was really a terror in the country, so terriﬁc was his appearance, so dreadful and hideous his screams, so formidable, frightful, and horrid, his wild career, that all the women in that region were so much alarmed that none of them durst go to market. And what made him still more terrible was the place of his abode. It was not in a city, where some attention might be paid to order and decorum -- (though he would sometimes ramble into the city, as in this case). It was not in a town, or village, or any house whatever, where assistance might be obtained in case of necessity; but it was among the tombs, and in the wilderness, -- not far, however, from the turnpike road. No one could tell but that he might jump at them, like a panther, and scare them to death. The gloominess of the place made it solemn and awful. It was among the tombs -- where, in the opinion of some, all witches, corpse-candles, and hob-goblins abide.
One day, however, Mary was determined that no such nuisance should be suﬀered in the country of the Gadarenes. The man must be clothed, though he was mad and crazy. And if he should, at any future time, strip himself, tie up his clothes in a bundle, throw them into the river, and tell them to go to see Abraham, he must be tied and taken care of. Well, this was all right -- no sooner said than done. But, as soon as the fellow was bound with chains and fetters, Samson-like, he broke the bands asunder, and could not be tamed.
By this time, the devil became oﬀended with the Gadarenes, and in a pout he took the Demoniac away, and drove him into the wilderness. He thought the Gadarenes had no business to interfere and meddle with his property; for he had possession of the man. And he knew, that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” It was probable that he wanted to send him home; for there was no knowing what might happen now-a-days. But there was too much matter about him to send him as he was; therefore, he thought the best plan would be to persuade him to commit suicide by cutting his throat. But here Satan was at a non-plus -- his rope was too short -- he could not turn executioner himself, as that would not have answered the design he has in view, when he wants the people to commit suicide; for the act would have been his own sin, and not the man’s. The poor Demoniac, therefore, must go about to hunt a sharp stone, or any thing that he could get. He might have been in search of such an article, when he returned from the wilderness into the city whence he came, when he met the Son of God.
Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. “And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.” Here is the devil’s confession of faith. The devils believe and tremble, while men make mock of sin, and sport on the brink of eternal ruin. To many of the human race, Christ appears as a root out of dry ground. They see in Him neither form nor comeliness, and there is no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. Some said He was the carpenter’s son, and would not believe in Him; others said He had a devil, and that it was through Beelzebub the chief of devils, that He cast out devils; some cried out, “Let Him be cruciﬁed -- let Him be cruciﬁed”; and others said, “Let His blood be on us and on our children.” As the Jews would not have Him to reign over them; so many who call themselves Christians, say that He is a mere man: as such, He has no right to rule over their consciences, and demand their obedience, adoration, and praise. But Diabolus knows better -- Jesus is the Son of God most high.
Many of the children of the devil, whose works they do, diﬀer very widely from their father in sentiment respecting the person of Christ.
Jesus commanded the legion of unclean spirits to come out of the man. They knew that out they must go. But they were like Scotchmen -- very unwilling to return to their own country. They would rather go into hogs’ skins than to their own country. And He suﬀered them to go into the herd of swine. Methinks that one of the men who fed the hogs, kept a better look out than the rest of them, and said, “What all the hogs? Look sharp there, boys -- keep them in -- make good use of your whips. Why don’t you run? Why, I declare, one of them is gone over the cliﬀ! There goes another! Drive them back.” Never was there such running, and whipping, and hallooing; but down go the hogs, before they were aware of it. One of them said, “They are all gone!” “No, sure, not all gone into the sea” “Yes, every one of them -- the black hog and all! They are all drowned! -- the devil is in them! What shall we do now! -- what can we say to the owners?” “What can we say?” said another. “We must tell the truth -- that is all about it. We did our best -- all that was in our power. What could any man do more?”
So they went their way to the city, to tell their masters what had happened. “John, where are you going?” exclaimed one of the masters. “Sir, did you know the Demoniac, that was among the tombs there?” -- Where did you leave the hogs?” “That madman, sir -- “ “Madman! -- why did you come home without the hogs?” “That wild and furious man, sir, that mistress was so much afraid oﬀ -- ” “Why, John, I ask you a plain and simple question -- why don’t you answer me? -- Where are the hogs?” “that man that was possessed with the devils, sir -- “ “Why, sure enough, you are crazy! -- you look wild! -- tell me your story, if you can, let it be what it may.” “Jesus Christ, sir, has cast out the unclean spirits of the Demoniac; they are gone into the swine, and they are all drowned in the sea; for I saw the tail of the last one?” the Gadarenes went out to see what was done; and ﬁnding that it was even so, they were afraid, and besought Jesus to depart from them.
How awful must be the state and condition of those men who love the things of the world more than Jesus Christ!
The man, out of whom the unclean spirits were cast, besought Jesus that he might be with Him. But He told him to return to his own house, and show how great things God had done unto him. And he went his way, and published through the whole city of Decapolis how great things Jesus had done unto him. The act of Jesus, in casting so many devils out of him, was suﬃcient to persuade him that Jesus was God as well as man.
I imagine I see him going through the city, crying, “O yes! O yes! O yes! Please to take notice of me, the Demoniac among the tombs. I am the man who was a terror to the citizens of this place -- that wild man, who would wear no clothes, and that no man could bind. Here am I, now, in my right mind. Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners, had compassion on me. He remembered me, when I was in my low estate: when was no eye to pity, and no hand to save. He cast out the devils, and redeemed my soul from destruction.”
Most wonderful must have been the surprise of the people, to hear such proclamation. The ladies running to the windows: the shoemakers throwing their lasts one way and the awls another, running out to meet and to converse with him, that they might be positive there was no imposition: and ﬁnding it to be a fact that could not be contradicted. O, the wonder of all wonders! Never was there such a thing! -- must, I think, have been the general conversation.
And while they were talking, and every body having something to say, homeward goes the man. As soon as he came in sight of the house, I imagine I see one of the children running in, and crying, “O, mother! Father is coming: he will kill us all!” “Children, come all into the house,” said the mother. “Let us fasten the doors. I think there is no sorrow like my sorrow!” said the broken hearted woman. “Are all the windows fastened, children?” “Yes, mother.” “Mary, my dear, come from the window: don’t be standing there.” “Why, mother, I can hardly believe it is father! That man is well-dressed.” “O yes, my dear children, it is your own father. I knew him, by his walk, the moment I saw him.” Another child, stepping to the window, said “Why, mother, I never saw father coming home as he does today. He walks on the foot-path, and turns round the corner of the fence. He used to come towards the house, as straight as a line, over fences, ditches, and hedges; and I never saw him walking as slow as he does now.”
In a few moments, however, he arrives at the door of the house, to the great terror and consternation of all the inmates. He gently tries the door, and ﬁnds no admittance. He pauses a moment, steps towards the window, and says, in a low, ﬁrm, and melodious voice: “My dear wife, if you will let me in, there is no danger. I will not hurt you. I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” The door was reluctantly opened, as it were between joy and fear. Having deliberately seated himself, he said: “I am come to show you what great things God has done for me.
He loved me with an eternal love. He redeemed me from the curse of the law, and the threatenings of vindictive justice. He saved me from the power and the dominion of sin. He cast the devils out of my heart, and made that heart which was a den of thieves, the temple of the Holy Spirit. I cannot tell you how much I love the Saviour. Jesus Christ is the foundation of my hope, the object of my faith, and the center of my aﬀections. I can venture my immortal soul upon Him. He is my best friend. He is altogether lovely -- the chief among ten thousand. He is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctiﬁcation, and redemption. There is enough in Him to make a poor sinner rich, and a miserable sinner, happy. My food is His ﬂesh and blood; His righteousness is my wedding garment; and His blood is eﬃcacious to cleanse me from all my sins. Through Him I can obtain eternal life; for He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person -- in Whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He deserves my highest esteem, and my warmest gratitude. Unto Him who loved me with an eternal love, and washed me with His own blood -- unto Him be the glory, dominion, and power, for ever and ever! For He has rescued my soul from Hell: He has plucked me as a brand from the burning: He has taken me out of the miry clay, and out of a horrible pit: He has set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings, and put in my mouth a new song of praise and glory to Him! Glory to Him for ever! Glory to God in the highest! Glory to God, for ever and ever! Let the whole earth praise Him! Yea, let all the people praise Him.”
It is beyond the power of imagination to conceive the joy and gladness of this family. The joy of seafaring men, delivered from being shipwrecked: the joy of a man delivered from a burning house: the joy of not being found guilty, to a criminal at the bar on trial for his life: the joy of a condemned malefactor receiving pardon: the joy of freedom to a prisoner of war: is nothing in comparison to the joy of him who is delivered from going down to the pit of eternal destruction; for it is a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
In speaking from these words,
I. We would notice Christ’s mission into the world to destroy the works of the devil.
II. His qualiﬁcations for that important work: He is both God and man -- the Son of God most high.
III. The awful state and condition of those people, who love the things of the world more than Jesus Christ -- who join the Gadarenes, in saying unto Christ, Depart from us.
[From Milburn Cockrell, editor, The Berea Baptist Banner, September 5, 2006, pp. 401-403. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
"Reports of the sermon on the Demoniac of Gadara, preached at one of the meetings of the Baptist Association, describe the alternate waves of laughter and weeping which swept like waves over the vast throng, and how the sermon ended with the congregation falling on their knees and calling upon God for mercy." - via Clarence Edward McCartney, Great Sermons, 1958.
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