The demons from the man begged Jesus Christ to be sent to the pigs. When the pigs fell off the cliff and died, where did the demons or evil spirits go? And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep (Luke 8:31 KJV)
NKJV - 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
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In my opinion, based on Jesus' words in Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26, the demons (as spirit beings) would have been released when the swine drowned, and would have then searched for other hosts to inhabit. However, they would not have returned to the man whom they had previously possessed, based on Jesus' authority, similar to His words in another case of demon possession described in Mark 9:14-29. (Although Scripture does not record Jesus as having specifically ordered the demons that had possessed the Gerasene demoniac not to re-enter him, such a command seems to have been clearly implied to me by Jesus' instruction to the man whom He had healed to declare to other people how much God had done for him, which He would not have done if the healed man were to be still subject to future possession, since that would have detracted from the witness to others that Jesus instructed the healed man to make.)
In my view our attention is drawn away from the real issues that this story seeks to bring. This story is so pregnant with meaning but unfortunately we so often miss the wonderful lessons. What drew my attention was the preamble to this epic encounter. Jesus was sleeping in the boat after a day of hard labour after instructing His disciples to crossover into an unusual territory- the decapolis. A group of 10 settlements that had resisted the gospel for a special reason. The reason becomes apparent when you consider the fact their commerce was based on rearing pigs which no Jew would buy. It needed a special type of rebellious spirit to sustain this in such an environment. Therefore a Jew coming to preach to these people was already hard enough, the stakes were very high. Spiritual opposition was already heavy hence the unusually rough storm that would terrify hardened sea going fishermen. This was no ordinary storm. They cried in terror and had to wake up the Master as the storm raged. Jesus quietened the storm and they made it over. No one was there to meet Jesus’s party that except one man, who was very different from the rest - possessed by multiple demons. Everybody else who no doubt knew about Jesus didn’t bother to come. My assessment of the situation is that the residents of this place were opposed to this visit. Hence they were cold and not welcoming. They knew that welcoming this Jew would threaten their commerce. Judaism and the pig industry weren’t compatible. I also think the devil knew this and he decided to do all he could to keep these people away from contact with Jesus. What better way to do this than take away their sole commerce - the pig industry? Hence the request/ prayer to Jesus to allow them to enter into the pigs. Of what use would it be for demons to occupy animals? It doesn’t make sense. Especially when those pigs are drowned and die the very next minute. That is why I think there was a bigger spiritual battle going on here. The devil wanted to arouse fierce opposition to Jesus and shut out any chances of these people receiving the gospel. He succeeded to some extent because the herders ran to the villages to report “what Jesus” had done. The villagers requested Jesus and His party to depart and leave them alone - a request which was complied with. However, what the devil didn’t realize was that a powerful witness had been planted that side of the lake. He would remain working and witnessing effectively. Sometime later a call would be received and this time the gospel received after the ground work had been done by the one man no one could have imagined. The demons didn’t drown that day, in fact it’s impossible for spirits to die by drowning. Demons target humans not animals. The real targets of this saga were the residents of these 10 cities. The pigs was just a diversionary tactic designed to take away focus from the real issues at play. As we go labouring for God, there are bigger spiritual battles that we are not aware of. God fights for us while the devil wants to keep us prisoners in darkness. We also learn that the least likely can be a very powerful secret weapon for God. Jesus only had a few moments of interaction with this man before being ordered to leave but those moments were powerful.
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