Jesus and his apprentices made it to Gerasenes county on the other side of the lake. But no sooner had Jesus stepped from the boat when a man possessed by an evil spirit approached them from the cemetery.
That's where he lived -- surrounded by tombs and graves. This guy was so strong that nobody could fetter him. Several times people had tried. But he always managed to break the chains and smash his iron leg restraints. He was uncontrollable!
Night and day the demonic wandered between the tombs and the hills -- howling and slashing himself with sharp stones.
He saw Jesus from a distance, ran to him, and knelt before him. But then he began screaming at him -- "Jesus, Son of the Most High God, why are you here? What are you planning to do to me? Swear an oath to God that you're not going to torture me."
For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to leave him.
Jesus responded, "What is your name?"
"Legion," answered the spirits in the man. "There's a whole mob of us in here."
And they started begging Jesus to allow them to stay in that area.
There were some religiously unclean animals -- the sort of which no good Jew would allow in his area -- feeding on a nearby hillside. So, the groveling spirits pleaded with Jesus to allow them to inhabit the swine -- "Send us into the pigs!!!"
Jesus agreed. So the unclean spirits left the man and went into the unclean animals. All 2,000 of the pigs in the herd were so startled by the spirit invasion that they stampeded. Rushing down a cliff they plunged into the lake and all drowned -- every last one of them.
The pig herders fled the scene. But they did manage to drum up an audience for the pig story -- which they told across the countryside, as well as the city. And once again, people congregated to see what was going on. They found Jesus and the former-demonic. He was sitting by Jesus, fulled dressed and in his right mind. Everyone was in awe.
The witnesses to the healing and pig incident retold the story. Then, instead of celebrating the transformation of the man who had terrorized them, the locals firmly told Jesus that he was not welcome in their area.
As Jesus was climbing into the boat to leave, the former-demonic begged Jesus to let him join the apprentices and leave with them. Jesus, however, said no, that he should go home to his own people and tell them the whole story -- about how the Lord had shown him mercy. So the man went on tour throughout the Ten Cities area, publicly telling and retelling the story of what Jesus had done for him. He became quite a celebrity.
THE COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out of the tombs. 3 This man lived among the tombs, and no one was ever strong enough to restrain him, even with a chain. 4 He had been secured many times with leg irons and chains, but he broke the chains and smashed the leg irons. No one was tough enough to control him. 5 Night and day in the tombs and the hills, he would howl and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from far away, he ran and knelt before him, 7 shouting, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”
8 He said this because Jesus had already commanded him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”
9 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He responded, “Legion is my name, because we are many.”
10 They pleaded with Jesus not to send them out of that region.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside. 12 “Send us into the pigs!” they begged. “Let us go into the pigs!” 13 Jesus gave them permission, so the unclean spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.
14 Those who tended the pigs ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. People came to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to be demon-possessed. They saw the very man who had been filled with many demons sitting there fully dressed and completely sane, and they were filled with awe. 16 Those who had actually seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man told the others about the pigs. 17 Then they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.
18 While he was climbing into the boat, the one who had been demon-possessed pleaded with Jesus to let him come along as one of his disciples. 19 But Jesus wouldn’t allow it. “Go home to your own people,” Jesus said, “and tell them what the Lord has done for you and how he has shown you mercy.” 20 The man went away and began to proclaim in the Ten Cities all that Jesus had done for him, and everyone was amazed.