We find many examples of exorcism in the Gospel. However, the today’s reading reveals a particularly great deal about the attributes of evil spirits. First of all, their power, the power they can exercise over a person, and the horror they can cause. The Gadarene demon-possessed man was so scary that “he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.”
But then we also see weakness and even total powerlessness of demons. They cannot cross the line that God has drawn. They could not destroy their victim, nor could they drag him away from the shore. The demon-possessed man “saw Jesus” and “fell down before Him”, which the demons could not have wished for.
We see the boundless brazen impudence of demons: they were tormenting a man and were not going to stop it and still dared to ask Jesus not to torment them.
We learn that demons are spirits that do not occupy space: there is a legion of them in one person. But they can only be in one place: now they are here, but soon they will be expelled, scattered, and will enter into many other beings.
Once again we see their impotence before God: they cannot enter the pigs without His permission. Then again, we see their tremendous power when God commits someone into their hands. A herd of swine suddenly jumped into the sea.
We see their impatience: they’re in a hurry to attack their victims. They could have done much more harm by acting more covertly.
However, we can see their craftiness and intelligence in other cases: they do not touch the inhabitants of the Gadarene country nor torment them, knowing that they already belong to them. As one man once said during a recent campaign against alcohol: “How much Satan wants us to come to him sober!” A drunk man will sober up and come to his senses. He who is freed from demons will sit “at Jesus’s feet,” dressed and sane. What can we say about the one who does the work of the devil freely and soberly? This is what the Gadarenes did when they asked Him to “depart from them” calmly and politely.
We also see how the Lord can harness the power of demons to their own detriment. He clearly demonstrates to the people, on inferior creatures, what is at stake. He teaches those who are created “in Christ Jesus unto good works” to remember their dignity. We should not be horrified at the destruction of speechless animals born “to be taken and destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12), but rather at what awaits us, the reasonable and Godlike creatures, and even those who have already been saved by the Lord Jesus, if we drive Him away from our lives by our sinful actions and lifestyles.