Shortly after the Savior finished teaching crowds on the shores of the Galilean sea, He sailed with His disciples to the other side, where He was immediately greeted with another need – the man from the graveyard.
To residents of Gadara, this man was known as a social outcast. His behavior was most peculiar – he lived in the graveyard at the outskirts of the city, refused to wear clothing, and cried out day and night while cutting himself with stones. To all who crossed his path he became fiercely violent. City members had tried to deal with the problem themselves. Though the man had been captured several times, neither guards, shackles, nor chains were a match for his unnatural strength. Upon escaping, he would immediately flee back to a lonely life in the mountain wilderness. It’s not until the man speaks to Christ that we discover his true problem; he is a sinner under the influence and control of demonic power.
The man from the tombs is an extreme example, but an example, nonetheless, of how sin has affected the human race. He lives day by day in the graveyard where death reigns. Scripture declares that as sinners we are naturally “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). His nakedness points us back to the first man and woman who, after falling into sin, lost their innocence and relationship with God. By cutting himself, he demonstrates how much self harm results from a life of sin. Addictions to gambling, drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy sexuality are just a few examples of sinful choices that destroy lives, families, and marriages. Finally, we learn that there is a real power of darkness in our world, working mostly behind the scenes, to keep sinners from knowing God (2Cor 4:4).
If there’s one thing we learn from this passage, it’s that human solutions never overcome the power of sin or the force of darkness. Attempts to permanently restrain our sinful nature will always fail in the end, because only God’s love and grace can transform a life. No amount of external restraint or self-reformation will ever change your status with God or alter your eternal destiny. As the man broke free from feeble human restraints, demonic power drove him into a lonely wilderness. We will find all human solutions to sin to be equally ineffective, only driving us closer to a dark and lost eternity.
When all human efforts failed, the only one who could help the man of the Gadara graveyard was the Prince of Life! At Christ’s command, the unclean demons, pleading not to suffer punishment, departed from the man. These emissaries of darkness did only harm and sought to avoid suffering for themselves. We can praise God that, when it came to answering the problem of our sin, there was only one Who, in love, died alone on a cross and took the judgment for our sin upon Himself. Scripture proclaims, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1Peter 3:18). We praise God that the man of the graveyard had his life and destiny transformed, and Christ can do the same for you.