As citizens of the United States we are good at producing stuff. According to Wikipedia, the United States’ nominal GDP was estimated to be $15.7 trillion in 2012, approximately a quarter of global GDP. We’ve been the world’s largest economy (not including colonial empires) since at least the 1890s. Americans know how to produce within the worlds economy. But our Gospel lesson for today reveals another economy where production is handled solely by three persons for the benefit of all. This is the economy of God which stresses the focal point of God’s divine business, which is this; God, through Christ seeks solely to distribute, or dispense, Himself into man. This Economy has held sway from creation and will remain until the last day.
So, when we hear Jesus proclaim the words to the exorcised Demoniac “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him, we industrious Americans can confuse the economy of the world with the economy of God. Produce my word, declare and proclaim it, is to be understood in the sense that you declare, recount, relate in full and describe it. But the verb ?????? (declare) is a passive tense verb which means that the producing of God’s word, while spoken to man, is actively be done by the Holy Spirit through the one(s) who have heard the Word of God. We are the pipes, to whom and through whom Christ delivers Himself and His Word. But like so many plumbing systems, sometimes the pipes clog and the production is halted.
Take the disciples who earlier in Luke 8 failed to produce Christ’s Word in the stormy seas, what got in the way? They were more concerned with the preservation of their earthly lives than the everlasting life that slept in the boat with them in the man/ God Jesus, they failed to produce God’s word because of fear of death. And it’s not until our text for today that two entities produce, or bring forth, confess Jesus’ word.
One, is the man with demons, who we’ll talk about shortly; the other one who produces Jesus word is Legion who proclaims the truth that those closest to Jesus cannot yet see; What do you have to do with us Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Legion knew the Economy of God; that God, through Christ seeks solely to distribute, or dispense, Himself into man. Legion stood before King Jesus who was indeed the word made flesh, God Himself knowing that he stood between Christ and one of Christ’s beloved.
The demons cry out a rhetorical question to which they already knew the answer; What have you do with us? The answer; Jesus had entered into our human story to cast them into the abysmal fires of Hell, but that’s not all. They also knew that Jesus had come to dispense something to the man that they had no chance of defeating; The Word came speaking the Word, Jesus speaking Himself. God was and is centered in Jesus Who, God exalted to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11) The word made flesh stood among them, with grace unbounded, and Legion fell down before Christ and begged not to be tormented.
This seems like an innocent request by those who exhibited such strength that they had caused nakedness, insanity and so much strength that even the shackles the authorities placed upon him could not bind him. But what is torment for a demon? To understand this better we should first understand what gives demons pleasure. Their greatest pleasure is to separate everyone from Christ who brings true liberty, true freedom from bondage, true strength, and most importantly, forgiveness. Legion had succeeded for a time in separating the man from God. That time has passed, the demons know that Jesus has come to bring swift and righteous judgement upon them.
But what about the demoniac, the man beset with isolation, nakedness and life among the dead? For he too asked Jesus; What have you to do with me? And this makes sense, for He was the filthiest, most deranged man, perhaps in all of scripture; those who had once gone near him had seen him break the bonds of chains, break the bonds of temporal captivity. So, what did Jesus have to do with this man? Jesus came to save this man from the torments of living hell by means of water and His Word. An exorcism must first take place to make way for the Holy Spirit to dwell, after that, the secondary possibilities would be endless.
Unfortunately, thanks to Hollywood, it’s very difficult for us to imagine what demon possession and exorcisms looks like. Too often we think of the Exorcist movie from 1973 or the 2005 film the exorcism of Emily Rose and forget that demon possession rarely takes on the form we find in our text for today. Instead, possessions come most often through temptations to sin, through entertaining sin, or by allowing it and the Devils sway to influence us; there are millions of ways to be possessed and all of them lead to the same place; isolation, spiritual nakedness, guilt and shame. This was true for the demoniac in our text, but even in the face of all his wretchedness, his nakedness, his shame and his isolation; in God’s economy, there is no child of Adam who is below the aid of Christ Jesus; no one is too far gone to be saved. The man despairs of any help at all. He knows the strength of the demons who hold him captive, He knows what they have made him do, he know’s isolation and torment and frankly this man despairs thinking that there is no help for him, He knows his filthiness, he knows his unworthiness; what does Jesus have to do with this man?
I’m glad you asked, what Jesus has to do with the man is the same thing that He has to do with you! Jesus comes to that man by means of Water and the word, to exorcise demons, to clothe that man in baptism, to clothe that man in Him. Hollywood often associates exorcisms with twisting heads and obscene language. But the truth is this; most exorcisms are performed without much drama. In fact, the word “exorcism” comes from the Greek word: ???????, which means “to cast out, to expel, to send away.” Further, to show you how mundane exorcisms are it may surprise you to hear that you’ve witnessed dozens of exorcisms in your life and have even experienced one yourself. Dear Christians, every time a baptism takes place, sins are ???????ed, the Devil and His demons, who know the Economy of God, must vacate to make room for the Holy Spirit, walla, an exorcism and we celebrate weekly the fact that God has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1: 13-14) Not just once in baptism but continually through His word and Sacraments.
Brother’s and sister’s too often what Christ does through His church, by means of simple water, word, bread and wine don’t seem up to the task of fighting against the forces of darkness. Perhaps its because we give Satan and his minions too much credit. And so it’s important to know who satan really is. He is an angel, a creature just like you and me, he’s not the Yin to God’s Yang in some cosmic battle for heavenly superiority; Christ has won the victory for you on the cross, this is the certainty of Easter. Too often though, we take the devils bait; and believe there was equity between God and Satan and because of this; Christians often insist on the extravagant, something in addition to Jesus’ Word and Sacraments. Dear Christians, Satan is not equal with God; yes he is powerful, deceitful and wicked but he holds no sway over Christ, and his only desire, since the fall into sin, is to isolate us from the Word of God to convince us that God’s economy, indeed His work on the cross and Easter Sunday, was not for us.
And so often we believe Satan; let me prove the point; why is it that when a child is brought to the waters of holy baptism that we do not marvel in awe and fearful reverence for what is taking place right before our eyes? Baptism, works forgiveness of sins us, separates us from death and the devil and brings new life to all who believe the words and promises of Christ. This is what the scriptures bear witness to, and yet we are not bowled over as we witness first hand the workings of God.
Dear Christians know this also, Satan wishes to keep us in our sin, guilt and shame, separated from God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness and yet, for fear, we often insist on the economy of butts in pews and budgets rather than rejoicing with all the kingdom of heaven over one sinner who repents and receives the forgiveness of Christ Jesus. If we knew how shrewd and cunning Satan still is, we would care less for gimmicks and bait and switch ministries, and would insist on receiving the true body and blood of our Lord and the sweet gospel of our Lord as often as we could.
What does Jesus have to do with the possessed man? What does Jesus have to do with us? Within the economy of God, Christ is in the business of saving Souls and by His holy Spirit our responses are passive.
First, we, like the man who was changed by water and the word desires nothing more than to be “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.” So it is with you this day; you sit here at the foot of your Savior whose Word still comes to you, spoken into your ears, that by faith, which was begun by Christ in you at baptism, you might grasp ahold and be fed in these days of sojourn, you have been clothed with Christ’s righteousness and you are in your right minds.
Second, although the man sat at the feet of Jesus, the people of His country were afraid; not joyous for healing, not thankful for the reinstatement of one into the community and kingdom of God, but fearful of what Jesus had come to do, namely to separate them from their sin; they wanted Jesus gone. Jesus honors their wishes for He is not in the business of forcing Himself and His gifts upon anyone.
And like the man, perhaps you would rather stay at the foot of your Savior, here in the safety of His house free from the blessed burden of producing Christ’s word to the homes you inhabit. But He says to the man the same thing that He says to you; I must leave you, you will not see me, but I will be there, actually, bolstering you, guarding you, strengthening you in faith and fortitude by my Word alone, the very word Isaiah speaks of As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11) You too must leave this place today, to go out in the midst of the modern day Gerasenes, pagans, heathens, atheists, the various religious sects of this world, back into the muck an mire of your family, work and extra curricular lives to find people who not understand the Economy of God, who will fear His word and seek to remain in their sin like the villagers in our text, and yet you, like the man in our text may depart this day with no fear for the results are not up to you. Return to your homes, rightly marveling over another child has been brought into the kingdom of God, that the consequences of the sin she had inherited from Adam have been drowned and died, rightly marveling that your Lord has come in word made flesh to forgive your sins. Marvel, by faith see the wonders of what Christ has done for you, return to your homes and declare, produce what has been given to you, produce Jesus word, tell what Christ has done for you this day, knowing that although you cannot see Him as the townspeople saw him that day on the seashore, that He is indeed visible to you by through the eyes of faith through the simple means, of water, bread, wine and the Word, which is where Christ can be found.
These simple means, water, word, bread and wine are sufficient for your life now and the life yet to come. Jesus still casts demons, sin, satan and death away. He comes to you in the same way that He came to the man once possessed in order to love you and nourish the faith He has given to you. Producing His word is not a work that you must do as some industrious American Christian. Understand that producing God’s word is a gift that has been given to you because you have been saved, pulled from the pit, washed clean in baptism, fed with His word, body and blood, that you might live now and forever and profess the great things that God has done for you to those who are perishing. Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling, Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling. To all the world go out and tell the story Of Jesus’ glory. Tell how the Father sent His Son to save us. Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us. Tell how the Spirit calls from ev’ry nation His new creation. Amen.