Luke 8:26 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentThis piece of history gives us a very sad relation of a person that was possessed of a legion of devils; we read of few, if any, in the Old Testament, that were thus possessed, but of many in the New. Our Saviour came into the world to destroy the works of the devil; therefore he suffered Satan to enter some human bodies, to show his divine power in casting him out.
Observe here, 1. That the evil angels by their fall lost their purity, but not their power; for with God's permission they have power not only to enter men's bodies, and to possess them, but also to distemper their minds, and to drive them to frenzy and madness; such was the deplorable case here.
Note, 2. That the reason why the evil angels do not oftener exert their power in doing mischief to the bodies and lives of men, is from the restraining power of God: the devil cannot do all the mischief he would, and he shall not do all he can.
Observe, 3. The place where these evil spirits delighted to make their abode: amongst the tombs or graves, places desolate, forlorn, and solitary, which are apt to breed horror of mind, and to give advantage to temptation.
From whence I gather, that it is very dangerous and unsafe for persons, especially in whom melancholy prevails, to give themselves too much to solitariness, to frequent desolate places, and to affect being much alone; for it gives advantage to Satan to set upon them with powerful temptations. It is much better to frequent human society especially to delight in the communion of the saints, by means whereof we may be more and more strengthened against Satan's temptations.
Observe 4. How the devils own Christ to be the Son of God, and pay unwilling worship and homage to him, yielding subjection to him as his slaves and vassels, not a free and voluntary service: They cried out, and fell down before him, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Where, by calling him Jesus, they owned him to be a Saviour, but none of their Saviour: What have we to do with thee, Jesus?
Oh! What an uncomfortable expression is this, to own Christ to be a Saviour, and at the same time to know and declare that he is none of our Saviour? "What is God, if he be not my God?" What comfort in a Saviour, if he be not my Saviour?
Observe, 5. What a multitude of evil spirits do enter into one man. Oh, the extreme malice and enmity of the devil against mankind, in that so many evil spirits should at once afflict and torment a single person, even a legion, many thousands of them!
Note likewise, the unity and agreement which is amongst these evil spirits in doing mischief; though there was a multitude of them in this one person, yet they have all but one name. We see the very devils have a sort of unity amongst themselves, and in their malicious and mischievous designs against mankind they are as one. Oh how happy were it, if good men were as united in their designs and endeavors for the glory of God, and the good of one another, as devils conspire and contrive against them!
Observe, 6. The request which the devils make to Christ: We beseech thee, torment us not.
From whence we may gather,
1. That there are torments appointed to the spiritual nature of evil angels.
2. That the evil angels, or devils are not so full of torment as they shall be, although they are as full of sin and discontent as they can be; there will be a time when their torments shall be increased; therefore they pray, Torment us not before the time; that is, do not increase our torments before the appointed time of their increase.
Observe, 7. The devil's request for permission and leave to go into the herd of swine.
1. The devil's malice: he will hurt the poor beasts, rather than not hurt at all.
2. His powerful restraint: he cannot hurt a poor pig without a permission: Suffer us to enter. Satan's malice indeed is infinite, but his power is bounded: it is a power under a power; if he could not hurt the swine, much less can he afflict the children of men without leave.
Observe 8. How Satan's request is yielded to by our Saviour: he suffered them to go into the swine, not to gratify their desire in doing mischief; but, first, hereby Christ showed his power over the devils, that they could not act without his permission and leave; next, to show how great the malice and power of the devil is, if not restrained; and lastly, that the miracle of casting out so many devils might appear to be the greater.
Learn hence, that sometimes Almighty God, for wise ends and just causes, does suffer the devil to enjoy his desire, in doing mischief unto the creatures: Jesus said unto them, Go.
Observe, 9. What a bad effect this miracle had upon the minds of the Gadarenes; instead of believing and owning Christ's divine power, the loss of their swine enrages them, and makes them desire Christ's departure from them.
Learn, that carnal hearts prefer their swine before their Saviour, and would rather lose Christ's presence than their worldy profit: They besought him to depart from them. Sad is the condition of those from whom Christ departs; more sad the condition of such who say unto Christ "depart"; but most sad the condition of them who beseech and entreat Christ to depart from them: thus did the Gadarenes here, and we do not read that ever Christ returned more to them.
Observe, 10. How desirous the possessed man was to continue with Christ after he was come to himself: He prayed that he might be with him. This he might desire, partly to testify his thankfulness to Christ, partly out of fear of being re-possessed again by Satan, or perhaps to have the opportunity of hearing Christ's doctrine, and seeing his miracles: for such as have once tasted that the Lord is gracious, and experienced the pleasure and profit of Christ's company, are very desirous of the continuance of it and exceeding loth to part with it.
However, our Saviour at this time did not think fit to suffer him, knowing that more glory would redound to God by publishing this miracle to his friends. Christ expects, after eminent deliverances wrought for us, that we should be the publishers of his praises, and declare to all, far and near, the great and wonderful things which he has done for us.
Observe lastly, how Christ ascribes that power to God, by which he had wrought this miracle of healing: Shew how great things God has done for thee.
From whence the Socinians infer, that had he been God most high, and the author of that power by which he wrought this miracle, he would have ascribed it to himself. Answer, Christ does this, as not seeking his own glory, but the glory of him that sent him; that is, as executing his prophetic office in his Father's name, and casting out devils by that Spirit which he had received from his Father.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.