Swine flu and other influenzas are nasty virus that have caused great mischief and death around the world. Interestingly, swine, i.e. pigs, possess the ability to mutate new virus strains and transmit them to humans. The swine-infecting-humans process started before Jesus came to Earth. Cleverly, our LORD Jesus reversed established processes, both spiritually and physically. Instead of having swine infect humans, Jesus found occasion to have men infect pigs with evil, which brought about the pig’s physical demise and the spiritual demise of unbelieving humans.
It started when two demon-possessed men met Jesus in the Gadarene region. Jesus understood His obligation to remove the evil spirits (Matthew 8:28). Simultaneously, the demons recognized Jesus’ power could dislodge them and began immediately to lobby Jesus regarding their next home. These evil spirits had been observing the swine and saw these creatures as an opportunity. Although the herd was a good distance away, the devils understood Jesus’ power and seized the chance to find a new home from which they could reengage in mischief.
The demons knew they were doomed, but wishing to continue their torment of man in some way, they reckoned they could hurt man’s possessions even if they could no longer hurt his body. Ruining swine would accomplish this goal. Their plan had the added effect of causing tribulation for Jesus Christ, as the townspeople would mourn the associated economic loss. However, until Christ removed them and sent them into the swine, they had no real power of their own. This brings comfort to us all, because even though the devil’s power is very great, it is limited and ultimately subject to the power of our LORD Jesus. Satan and his instruments can go no further than He is willing to permit.
When Jesus told the spirits to “Go!”, they had no choice but to leave. God does at times, for His wise and Holy purposes, allow Satan to afflict humans, just as He did with Job. When the time of affliction is completed, however,demons must obey the LORD. They recognized that as soon as Jesus gave the word, they would be forced to fly out of the two men and into the swine.
Perhaps Jesus performed this miracle for the conviction of the Sadducees, who denied the existence of spirits because they could not see them. By His actions, Jesus would provide a visible demonstration of the being, multitude, power, and malice of these spirits. If this miracle did not convince the religious leaders, nothing would.
Jesus’ plan to use the swine as a final repository for the demons seemed to be a perfect solution – a plan made in Heaven, if you will. However, an Earthly question remains. The Gadarenes were Jews living on the other side of the Jordan. What possible use would Jews have for swine, when by the Law of Moses, swine were considered unclean and forbidden to be touched or eaten?
Scripture does not inform us of their motivation, but one can speculate. Living on the outskirts of the Promised Land, however, there were probably many Gentiles living among them. This heard of swine may have belonged to Gentiles or the Jews may have kept them to be sold or bartered to the Romans, with whom they had great dealings and who were admirers of swine flesh. The Gadarene Jews may have even become corrupted by the Gentiles and, contrary to the Law that considered the keeping of swine to border on evil, may have taken the liberty to consume them. Jesus may also have been punishing the Gadarenes for their transgressions.
Regardless of the Gadarene’s motivations, in obedience to Christ’s command the devils flew out of the men and flew immediately into the herd of swine. The swine then “flew” down the steep embankment and rushed into the lake, where they died in the water (Matthew 8:32). The townspeople were incensed and the whole town confronted Jesus. Instead of being grateful for liberating two men from evil spirits, the locals were irate at the loss of their swine and asked Jesus to leave their region.
It is normal for our LORD to exercise His power by exorcising demons. Where He chooses to place them after removal is also part of His perfect plan. The evil spirits had convinced the people that Christ was the demon, causing them to have prejudice against Him. The devil is still using Christ’s goodness to rally people against Him and against His Christian followers.
Swine flu is a physical illness, but love of possessions is a sickness of the spirit and far more deadly. As with the Gadarenes, many people today prefer their possessions to Christ and ask Him to depart and stay out of their lives. How unfortunate. The loss of possessions is temporary; the loss of Jesus Christ is eternal. Love of possessions is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), a spiritual flu that caused the Gadarenes to reject our Savior. Be normal and make sure your possessions do not infect you or put a barrier between you and Jesus Christ.
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