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Victory and Collateral Damage

How do you feel about experiencing the power of God? In many places where Jesus taught and did miracles, those who experienced His power wouldn't leave Him alone. He was sought after by those who wanted relief. But not everyone appreciated Jesus for His power.


"When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area. They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?” There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone."

Matthew 8:28-38


When Jesus crossed the sea, He entered a place where death was reigning. Men were possessed and controlled by demons, citizens of the Kingdom of Death. It makes sense that these men made their homes in burial tombs. They felt 'at home' among the dead.


Just as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are known by certain characteristics, so are citizens of the Kingdom of Death. One thing Heaven's citizens are known for is how gentle they are. By contrast, the citizens of Death are know for their hostility.


These men were so hostile and violent that people did not even dare pass by the burial tombs. They took the long way around. They were afraid. Jesus was not afraid. The power of death and darkness will never overpower life and light!


When Jesus approached and confronted the demon-possessed man, they had no doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. They knew they were no match for Him! They also knew that as citizens of the Kingdom of Death, their fate would be to lose the war over the power of the universe. They knew they would be judged for their allegiance to the enemy and their war crimes. They were face-to-face with the King of Heaven and their judge. They were afraid, and they should have been.


But it wasn't time for their judgment yet. However, Jesus was not about to let them continue with their evil crimes, control those men and dominate the town with their tyranny. So Jesus commanded they leave. The herd of pigs just happened to be there. The pigs were the means of escape for the demons.


It is very hard when battles and wars cause collateral damage. But sometime, this is the price paid for the value of victory and freedom. In this case, the collateral damage was the pigs, someones livelihood.


It would seem that the people, even the owners of the pigs would have recognized that the power of Jesus was very great. With the tyranny they and the demon-possessed men had put up with for so long, they would recognize Jesus' power as being good. Victory and freedom were brought to them that day! The power that freed them from strong tyranny had more freedom to offer. But they were afraid.


Having such power in their midst made them extremely uncomfortable. So, they begged Jesus to leave. What a shame! How often does fear and discomfort cause people to retreat from the freedom? How often have I retreated, fearful and uncomfortable with power I don't understand and can't control? Do I forfeit its benefits and retreat from experiencing it?


How much better it would be to acknowledge fear and discomfort, then seek understanding and truth? How much more honorable to gain discernment than to cower in fear?


Dear citizen of Heaven,

Do not fear the power of God in your life. Yes, it's uncomfortable and so great that you will feel the fear. But God says to us, "Fear not". He is a good God. He is not a tyrant. You can trust Him. You can experience His power and trust that you will not be destroyed by it.


The men who had been demon-possessed understood the goodness of Jesus' power. They were finally free. They did want to remain with Jesus. But, having been sent away by the timid towns-people Jesus told the men to stay and help them understand that ,though powerful, Jesus was good.


They did remain. And they did tell the people. They did such a good job of telling their stories that when Jesus returned sometime later, they recognized Jesus and welcomed Him enthusiastically! Jesus remained with them on His second visit and healed many people.


So, now, you go. Tell others how the great and good power of Jesus has transformed your life and set you free. And when the Spirit returns to invite them again to welcome Him, perhaps they will.

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