The disciples are met by violent and uncontrollable men coming out of the tombs. As He did with the storm, Jesus calms the situation down. This time by addressing not the men themselves, but the demons controlling them. Luke writes in his Gospel that one of the men fell at Jesus’ feet as He addressed them. Matthew gets right to the point; “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
The sovereignty of God is not a secret in the spiritual realm. Our world may not recognize Him or even perceive His Voice until He chooses to reveal Himself in power, but the angels and demons hear Him for who He is. His presence is unmistakable. His voice is the epitome and sum of authority. His will is well known, and His plan is unstoppable.
The demons know these things, and tremble. They know their days of freedom are numbered, and their end will be in the lake of fire. It is for this reason that they seek to possess men to start with – so that they might drag that which is made in the image of God with them into hell, and so cause as much hurt to the maker of men as possible. But they cannot completely control people, even when legions of them try to work together to that end. The men they possess innately know salvation is close at hand, and they’ve purposed to come out to meet Jesus instead of running from the One who is stronger than all. The demons must have been terrified. That which they had control of is taking control back, and seeking freedom from them. They are loosing the battle, and the sight of Jesus is torment to their eyes.
“Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.”
The demons beg Jesus to let them continue their possession of physical bodies. When He commands them out of the men, they rush to go into the pigs. But the pigs know better than to allow themselves to be controlled by the demonic. They do what they can to avoid the fate the demons have coming. They rush to the water, as if to try to douse the flames they know will otherwise surely come upon them. The demons – who tried to steer men into the lake of fire – find themselves instead being steered down the banks into a lake of water. They wanted to live on the earth within men, but ultimately find themselves within lifeless pigs in the water. They bound men to destruction and sought to cause terror among people, but they themselves become bound, and that to slowly decaying unclean flesh – nothing more than floating food for fish and worms.
By this point in the story we forget the fear the disciples must have been feeling as they wandered ashore and the demoniac approached. But we should not forget that, because in remembering it now there is a valuable truth; The circumstance the disciples were so afraid of – the circumstances that so frightened us at first – become in hindsight nothing more than an occasion to smile as we remember God’s faithful care for us.
When a man is at his very highest as to this world’s joy, he hears the whisper of a dark spirit saying, “Will it last?” He peers into the morrow with apprehension, for he knows not what may be lurking in his path. But, when a man is no longer afraid, but is prepared to welcome whatever comes, because he sees in it the appointment of a loving Father, why, then he is in a happy state.Charles Spurgeon
What fear are you currently facing down? Fear not. Christ shall overcome this too.