“Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned” (Luke 8:37).
Jesus and His disciples arrived at the land of the Gadarenes, where a manwho Was possessed by a legion of demons met them (Luke 8:30). ‘Legion” is a word used to describe a division of the Roman army that could include about 6,000 men. Its Biblical meaning indicated a large number. We don’t know if the possessed man spoke of a literal number or a symbolic number. The disciples were frightened, but the possessed man was subdued byJesus’s authority, and knelt before divine majesty (see verse 28). This story exemplifies the spiritual battle being fought between God and Satan for the lives of men and women, but God’s power is always superior. Like a defeated army, the demons asked Jesus for permission to enter a nearby herd of pigs, and Jesus agreed. The pigs stampeded and ran wildly down the mountain- side toward a lake, trying to rid themselves of that possession (see verses 31-33).
Two thousand pigs died on that occasion (see Mark 3:13). If each pig were possessed by just one demon, they could have well been called a legion. Jesus allowed this loss and destroyed the source of income for the pig farmers for several reasons: ‘It was in mercy to the owners of the swine that this loss had been permitted to come upon them. They were absorbed in earthly things, and cared not for the great interests of spiritual life. Jesus desired to break the spell of selfish indifference, that they might accept His grace. But regret and indignation for their temporal loss blinded their eyes to the Saviour’s mercy.”—The Desire of Ages, ch. 35, p. 338.
Two thousand pigs weighing 200 pounds each, sold at $2 per pound would cost about $800,000. This was the cost of the ‘evangelistic campaign” to save just one soul. How much God values a human being! No wonder the people were afraid. Fear led them to reject Jesus and banish Him from their territory. For them, the pigs were more important than a soul that had been saved, more important than the Savior. They were amazed but they did not make a positive decision. They missed out on the opportunity to experience an encounter with the One who is stronger than the legions of Satan. ‘There are many who refuse to obey His word, because obedience would involve the sacrifice of some worldly interest. Lest His presence shall cause them pecuniary loss, many reject His grace, and drive His Spirit from them.”—ibid, p. 339.