Luke 8:35

In introduction, distinguish between the genuine possession by an evil spirit and the phenomena of madness, or the most of those instances of merely bodily plague which in the worst times have probably nevertheless been the result and degenerate outgrowth. of the extremes of sensuality and intemperance. Also allude to the fact that only one demoniac is mentioned by St. Mark and St. Luke. Note therewith that here, though it is said "they" both spoke and cried to Jesus, yet only one form of words is given. In passing, note also how, in the account of each evangelist, this narrative follows that of the stilling of the storm and tempest in the material world. Notice -


II. THE EXTRAORDINARY BUT MOST SIGNIFICANT ACTION OF THIS DUALITY OF SPIRIT WHICH MANIFESTED ITSELF AT THE CRISIS OF THE APPROACH OF JESUS CHRIST, The "he" who met Jesus, and ran to him as by irresistible instinct or attraction, and "worshipped," and "fell down" before him, and the other "he" (or "they") of whose devilish inspiration were the words which the victim used. How graphic, how dramatic, how dreadful the parable the description speaks of the conflict and the strife in the soul between itself in deep need, deep distress, deep consciousness, and the odious tyrant that hems him at bay!

III. THE NOTICE TO QUIT NOW, AND THE MORE SIGNIFICANT SUGGESTION THAT THE NOTICE, YET TO COME ONE DAY, WOULD BE A LONGER NOTICE, ONE TO QUIT FOR EVER, The entreaty of the united legion, by the lips of the oppressed and tormented demoniac, is that they shall not be banished the "country" (i.e. the world); and should not be sent into "the deep" (i.e. the unseen domain), where there would be no "wicked," no "weary" from whatsoever cause, for such to possess and tyrannize. And this entreaty betokened sufficiently plainly what they knew of their ultimate destiny, and what they bad in view in deprecating being "tormented before the time." Note the easy prey that the vast number of swine were to the evil spirit or spirits; and how is thereby set forth the strong power to resist of the human soul, and its long-continued power to resist, and in the same relative proportion the prolonged, unutterable suffering and anguish.

IV. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE COWARDLY AND SELFISH GADARENES IN BESEECHING CHRIST TO DEPART, AND THE IMPASSIONED PRAYER OF THE RECOVERED DEMONIAC TO BE PERMITTED TO REMAIN WITH CHRIST. Conclude by remarking on the fearful compliance on the part of Jesus with the one entreaty, arid his most gracious refusal of the other. - B.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.
Sitting at the feet of one is an expression which seems fitted not merely to describe local position, but to image forth the state of the mind of him who occupies it. And among these we may notice —

1. Reverential affection for his Deliverer. Thus he sought to be near Him; yet would take the lowest place in His presence, from which he might look up to Him with admiring and loving regards.

2. Confidence in His power to save. "Sitting at the feet of Jesus:" the man out of whom the devils were departed, may have considered this as the place of safety.

3. Docility under His instructions. This was the position of an avowed disciple, according to the custom of the times, which assigned to the teacher a more elevated seat, while the scholars placed themselves at his feet. His place showed that he had been made willing to submit his own understanding to the wisdom of God, speaking by Him whom He had sent. And may we not conclude that there was not only acquiescence in the truth of what Jesus taught, but a deep and engrossing interest in the subjects of His discourse?

4. Submission to His authority, and devotedness to His service. By sitting at the feet of Jesus, would not the man whom He had delivered from the power of the demons express his sense of the obligations under which he was laid now to obey and serve Him who had done so great things for him, and had had compassion on him? What might he say by the place he occupied and his mien there? "O Lord, I am Thy servant, truly I am Thy servant, Thou hast loosed my bonds." I would only add two observations farther.

1. That, in cherishing such sentiments and affections toward Jesus, we will show that we have come to ourselves, that we are now in our right minds.

2. By cherishing such sentiments and affections towards Jesus we consult our true happiness.

(J. Henderson, D. D.)

Three ideas are suggested by the brief but expressive description in the text:

I. REST — "Sitting." Repose one of our prime needs. Is there rest anywhere? Yes, at the feet of Jesus.

II. RAIMENT — "Clothed." Character the soul's raiment.

III. REASON — "In his right mind." There is such a thing as moral insanity, spiritual lunacy. Remember what is said of prodigal son — "And when he came to himself." How suggestive! Sin deranges our being. To live without God is to be out of our true, proper, right mind.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

I. THE PICTURE AS A HISTORICAL FACT. The man sitting, sane, clothed, restful, decent, master of his own being, and all because of his closeness to the Lord. Explanation of all is ill the clause — "At the feet of Jesus."


1. It conduces to the material well-being. It is well to note that the man was "clothed."

2. Its influence upon the mind.

3. Its power to deal with the sores and sins of single souls. The individual first, and the mass afterwards.Lessons:

1. There are no outcasts beyond the sweep of Christ's large mercy, beyond the leverage of Christ's great love.

2. Here is what God sends me to offer to every man and woman here-rest, for distraction; peace, tranquility; quiet of heart, of conscience, of memory, of soul, of hope. Self-command. Emancipation from the madness of sin.

(Expository Sermons on New Testament.)


1. As to the nature of the disorder, the person before us is described as " a certain man which had devils long time." Foul spirits, or demons, had mysteriously, though really, been permitted to enter into his frame, and to render his corporeal and mental existence subservient to the will and power of Satan. That so long as you remain untouched by another, by a higher, and by a far more commanding agency, so long you are "led captive by the devil at his will."

2. Thus is illustrated the nature of the disorder; and we find the statement also presented as to its effects. The recorded effects of the disorder upon the victim here alluded to, are most pitiable and touching. My brethren, the subjection of man to the moral dominion of Satan exposes him to effects, of which those we have now described furnish a solemn and a striking analogy. There is the perversion of reason. Again: there is the exclusion of the soul from all associations which can constitute its comfort and its dignity. Then, again, there is the endurance of positive pain and agony. Indulgences are fraught with pangs; and the passions which prompt them only infuriate and convulse.

II. We have thus considered, that a malignant disorder had been endured; and you will now observe, secondly, THAT A SIGNAL RECOVERY WAS EFFECTED.

1. AS to the Being by whom the recovering agency was exerted, it was, we need scarcely remind you, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the one Deliverer appointed for men, from their subjugation to the slavery of Satan. Further: it will be observed, that the Saviour accomplishes the deliverance of man by the manifestation of Himself to them, in His person and in His work. The demoniac, you observe, saw the Redeemer; and it was in connection with His personal appearance that the cure was effected and achieved; and in this manner the Saviour also spiritually manifests Himself to the understandings of men. He presents Himself to man by His Word. He also presents Himself to men by His Spirit.

2. This, my brethren, is the Being by whom the recovering agency is exerted; and you are now to observe the extent to which that agency operated. We are informed in this beautiful narrative, that by some mystic charm the sufferer was attracted to the Saviour. What a change! — from the frenzied maniac, in his wild convulsions and his angry mien, to one quiet and clothed, rejoicing in privilege, and exulting in the hope of happiness! It was, indeed, the accomplishment of a new creation.

III. Then, brethren, from this signal recovery effected, we are also to observe, THAT IMPORTANT RESULTS WERE SECURED.

1. Observe the effects as they were produced upon the minds of others. It is recorded, that the men who had been guilty of the unholy traffic, and who by the loss of their foul property had been abundantly reproved and judged, "were afraid." My brethren, what we desire to impress upon you here, is a fact which no genuine Christian will for a moment dream of disputing, that any real and well-ascertained conversion, by the energy of the Divine Spirit, through the work of the great Redeemer, must produce powerful influences upon the minds of those who can personally and truly observe it. Although, perhaps, you but imperfectly calculated and estimated them, it was an event which vibrated to the most distant regions of the universe. Anger was excited. Satan was angry, and his ministers of darkness were angry, when they saw you snatched from the burning, and taken from their thraldom and from their doom, into "the glorious liberty" and the glorious prospects "of the children of God." Ungodly men, perhaps, were angry. But not only anger: astonishment was produced. You were a wonder unto others; they saw that which amazed them. There was the drunkard sober. And then, not merely was there anger and astonishment — there was joy. Your parents, your partners, your children, your friends, they rejoiced over you, when you told them of what God had done for your souls.

2. Again, brethren, we have also to observe the effect on the mind of the individual himself. And love to his deliverer was produced. And love, brethren, to Him by whom we have been emancipated from the thraldom of sin and Satan is the inevitable, and ought to be legitimately the master-impulse of our existence. Then again: zeal for his deliverer was produced; for we are informed, in a subsequent part of the narrative, that "Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee." Christ, brethren, will have no indolent enjoyers of privilege with Him. We must look onward, brethren, to the grand and glorious consummation, when liberty shall reign over our apostate globe.

(J. Parsons.)

A remarkable case is reported by Mr. Owen Watkins, one of the most devoted and honoured missionaries in the Transvaal. He describes the baptism of a woman who had for years been famous among her people as a witch doctor, and was supposed to have the power of discovering secrets of every kind. Two years ago Mr. Watkins saw her at a great festival, engaged in her fantastic rites, leading a wild dance of women, with weapons in her hands and strange charms hung round her. She jumped and leaped, and shouted, he says, "like one possessed of devils." All this has passed away now; she has broken with her old life, burnt her charms, renounced her fame and her power. The very difficulty of her conversion goes far to prove its reality. "Often when trying to pray she would rush away to the solitudes of the mountain, and there wander about like an unquiet spirit." This is not the experience of one to whom the spiritual life is not a reality; and the fact that one who had so strong a hold upon their fears and superstitions should have thus accepted the gospel of Christ's love is certain to impress the hearts Of those who used to dread and worship her.

If God should speak to Niagara, and bid its floods in their tremendous leap suddenly stand still, that were a trifling demonstration of power compared with the staying of a desperate human will. If He should suddenly speak to the broad Atlantic, and bid it be wrapped in flames, we should not even then see such a manifestation of His greatness as when He commands the human heart, and makes it submissive to His love.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A believer was giving in a prayer-meeting his testimony as to God's grace and goodness, and said: — "On my way here to-night I met a man who asked me where I was going. I said, 'I am going to prayer-meeting.' He said, 'There are a good many religions, and I think the most of them are delusions; as to the Christian religion, that is only a notion — that is a mere notion, the Christian religion.' I said to him, 'Stranger, you see that tavern over there?' 'Yes,' said he, 'I see it.' 'Do you see me?' 'Yes; of course I see you.' 'Now the time was, as everybody in this town knows, that if I had a quarter of a dollar in my pocket I could not pass that tavern without going in and getting a drink; all the people of Jefferson could not keep me out of that place. But God has changed my heart, and the Lord Jesus Christ has destroyed my thirst for strong drink; and there is my whole week's wages, and I have no temptation to go there. And, stranger, if this is a notion, I want to tell you it is a mighty powerful notion; it is a notion that has put clothes on my children's backs, and it is a notion that has put good food on our table, and it is a notion that has filled my mouth with thanksgiving to God. And, stranger, you had better go along with me — you might get religion too; lots of people are getting religion now.'"

(Dr. Talmage.)

In the first instance he was demon-possessed, and in the next he was Christ-possessed.

I. We shall direct our attention TO CERTAIN VIEWS SUGGESTED BY HIS INSANE CONDITION, AS CHARACTERISTIC OF MEN WHO HAVE NOT BEEN REDUCED TO A STATE OF SPIRITUAL SOUNDNESS BY THE HEALING POWER OF CHRIST. Among the various wrecks of humanity our eyes can scarcely rest on a spectacle more melancholy and humiliating than that of a poor helpless object, dragging out a seemingly profitless existence in a state of soulless idiocy. Deprived of that reason by which our race is mainly distinguished from the inferior animals, he appears but as the shadow or mockery of a man, because seemingly in possession of no more than his external form. Easily then can we conceive how much more friends would have preferred death for him to all this; and all the more earnestly they might long for it from concluding that his living could serve no good end, or be anything more than an oppression to himself and others. But, withal, how mistaken in their calculations! He had, notwithstanding all their misgivings, been created for the glory of God. Miserable, feared, and pitied, as he was, fleeing from human habitations and tearing his own flesh; yet the wretched man, wretched whilst in this state, was living for the glory of God, for, as proved in the event, he was destined to become the subject of a miraculous cure by the great Physician; and in this way was to help in attesting the Divine commission of that Physician. Thus in the first instance, although the devil was allowed to show what power he had gained over him by his state of lunacy: he was next to be an instrument in Christ's hands, whereby the great Deliverer was to show in turn what supreme power He had over the devil himself, and what He was able to do in the reduction of moral as well as mental insanity; and thus clothe the spiritually naked, and put them in their right mind. In directing our attention to these views, we are able at once to perceive that this poor lunatic was of far more use in the scheme of God's grace than multitudes who have thought themselves far wiser men. Assuredly they who sit down contented anywhere else than at the feet of Jesus, are still in a state of infatuation, so that in application to those who live and die in such a condition, we may employ the language of Solomon and say, "Madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead." Nothing save madness, and that which in the end proves the worst kind of it, could lead men to embrace the world as a portion, when they might have instead the kingdom of heaven for an inheritance. What but madness could lead them to encounter at any moment, the risk of hastening into everlasting companionship with the devil and his angels, when otherwise they might be in the blissful condition of securing for eternity the society of the ministering hosts of heaven, and the spirits of just men made perfect. One of the tokens of insanity affecting the helpless maniac mentioned in the text, consisted, as stated by Mark, in "cutting himself with stones." But would he have been any wiser if, like multitudes of our race, he had cut himself instead with gold or silver, or with some of the other glittering things for which worldly minded and ambitious men spend their lives? Would he have been less a madman if his cutting instrument of torture had been the drunkard's glass, wherewith to have administered deadly poison till he perished in ruin? Would he have been less a madman to have climbed the ladder of ambition, till losing self-command in the giddy height, he had fallen to perish in misery, as hath happened, in the judgments of God, to many of the proud and insatiable tyrants of the earth. Would he have been less a madman to have frequented scenes of licentious and degrading sensuality, till wasting, loathsome disease, more cutting than all the stones of torture he employed, had severed the slender thread of life, and sent him an early victim to the all-devouring tomb? They may not, like the maniac before us, have their habitation among the tombs, but they live and breathe in as death-like places, inhaling the noxious vapours of mammon's treasure-house, or the noxious fumes of the temple of Bacchus, or the pestilential atmosphere of the slaughter-houses of licentious indulgence. They may not appear actually behind in fetters and chains like the demoniac of the text; but they are more than iron-bound to their own lusts, and seemingly without such power as the demoniac had to snap them asunder. There are no chains so galling as those which are forged by enslaving passions or degrading appetites. "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end."

II. We shall show WHAT WE HOLD TO BE INVOLVED IN THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF MEN, WHEN IT MAY BE SAID OF THEM THAT THEY ARE IN THEIR "RIGHT MIND," AND HAVE THUS BECOME TRULY WISE, The main thing to which we have to attend in the management of this is to weigh Scripturally what is implied in the situation here spoken of, as "sitting at the feet of Jesus." It was there that the demoniac was found after he was brought to his right mind, and it is there that any one will be who is truly wise. No one can be said to have "come to himself" till in that situation. Wherefore consider that to sit in the church is not to sit at the feet of Jesus. To sit in the reading even of His own Holy Book is not to sit at the feet of Jesus. To sit as ministers, elders, or deacons, in discharging any of the offices which belong to His house, is not to sit at His feet. To sit at His own holy table on sacramental occasions, to eat and drink in His name, and, as called for, in remembrance of Him, is not that which constitutes sitting at His feet. Men may do all these things in their season, and with much regularity during the currency of a long life, and yet be found in the end to have been nearer the feet of Satan than the feet of the Saviour. All these are important duties in their place; but if done in mere formality, or hypocrisy, tend not to salvation, but to ruin.

1. It implies laying down at His feet the whole burden of one's sin that He may pardon and purify — that He may forgive and cleanse from all pollution. It is only when men are in this state of consciousness as to the burden of sin, they will take any active part in placing themselves at the feet of Jesus; and when they come to this, it is because of the conviction there is no other place of safety for them. He is then seen as affording the only propitiation for sin, so that verily there is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved.

2. Sitting at the feet of Jesus may be regarded as implying the willing reception for directions in faith and life of the heavenly lessons taught in His Word. No one, therefore, can be said to sit at His feet, and clothed in his right mind, who does not venerate the Scriptures, and apply to them for spiritual instruction. And it is just because there is so little ambition of this sort, if we may so speak, to be taught the legislation of heaven, by sitting at the feet of Jesus in learning, or becoming " mighty in the Scriptures," that there are so many blunders in civil legislation — so many blunders in education — and, we may say, so many blunders in preaching. They who have never been at the feet of Jesus learning His will, have not, like the demoniac, come to their right mind, and what are we to expect from the still infatuated, or from madmen, whether they be princes, or statesmen, or parents, or teachers? Mere science, worshipped as it may be, is of no use to man at the brink of the grave. He needs no geometry to enable him to measure its length and depth. He needs no chemistry to enable him to analyze the soil into which he is about to be laid. These and other branches of learning are of use in their proper place to living men, but are of no use to the dying. They are fit subjects for discussion in the halls of science, but serve no purpose in the chambers of sickness and dissolution. When the end is thus drawing nigh, nothing is of any value to the immortal spirit, except what is learnt by "sitting at the feet of Jesus." The Bible, which contains the learning thus to be acquired, may have been despised before, but it can scarcely be despised now.

(J. Allan.)

I have told you of African cruelty. Here is a story of what Jesus does when He gets into the hearts of such dreadful men. Some years ago there was a man called Africaner, a Kaffir, who was the terror of the whole neighbourhood. The mere mention of his name made the people tremble. Sweeping down upon towns and villages with his wild followers, he would murder all the men and even the children, would take the women as slaves, and having burnt the place, would drive the cattle back to his own territory. The bold missionary thought that the gospel of Jesus was able to save even this man, and he set out to preach to him. When the people found where he was going, they begged him to remain. His friends implored him not to go. Nobody expected to see him again. On he went, and speedily came tidings that he had been murdered, one man declaring that he himself had seen his bones bleaching in the wilderness. But some years after, two men came back amongst the white people. They knocked at the door of the farmer's house; the farmer started and turned pale, "Why, this is the missionary's ghost," he cried. "No, no," laughed Mr. Moffat, "it is the missionary himself, in the flesh still." "Why, but you were murdered long ago," gasped the farmer. But Mr. Moffat soon let him know that he was no ghost, and joy came in place of fright as the wife and children gathered around him with glad welcome. "But however did you escape from that dreadful Africaner?" asked the farmer, as if he could not quite believe it yet. "Africaner is now a truly good man"; and Mr. Moffat told of his conversion. The farmer listened in amazement. "If that is really so," he said, I have only one wish before I die, I should like to see this eighth wonder of the world, cud I will go with you to see him." The missionary coolly turned to the man at his side. "See," he said, taking his hand, "here is Africaner." The farmer started in terror; looking at him he saw the face, but with such a new spirit shining in it that he cried, "O God, what a miracle of Thy power; what cannot Thy grace accomplish!"

(M. G. Pearse.)

Whole villages (of the Kohls in India) were found in ruins; for "an evil spirit has settled in them." "Get up I be off!" shouted the excited people to the missionaries as they camped on a little green knoll near the hamlet. "Why?" "That is our devil's place; you must not inconvenience our devil."

(Dr. Stephenson.)

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