“Closing the Gap”

Luke 10:1-11, 17-20

July 3, 2022

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Luke 10:1-11, 17-20

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

| Centering Prayer |

The X, Y, and Z planes are quite easy for most of us to comprehend.

If I remember my high school and undergraduate mathematics correctly,

X gives width

Y gives height

and Z gives depth

to a three-dimensional world.

“Ah, yes; but what about time?” one might ask.

Yes, of course.

When one adds the element of time passing to a three-dimensional space

The world comes to life,

objects appear to move.

A two-dimensional photograph is converted into a three-dimensional movie.

Instead of a looking at a snapshot,

it is as if George Eastman had a stack of Kodachrome

or Walt Disney had a stack of cartoons,

and by the magic of stop motion,

a continuous sequence of frames over time gives the illusion of real life.

X, Y, Z, and Time gives us four dimensions,

but is there a fifth?

Rod Serling seemed to think so.

He often opened episodes of The Twilight Zone speaking about a fifth dimension,

a parallel universe,

and the gap between our world and the other was narrowing.

Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson agree.

They call the fifth dimension the “simulation hypothesis”.

If there is an argument against

Living in a parallel, simulated world,

they can’t find it.

“Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, is more expressive … “If there were bugs in the program running our universe, like in the Matrix movies, those could clearly have observable effects,” he says. “Just like God appearing in a thundercloud could be pretty good empirical evidence in favor of religion.””


The kingdom of God,

The kingdoms of this world,


I wonder if Serling was familiar, and

if Musk, Tyson, and Aaronson are familiar,

with our Gospel for today?

(Probably not.)

It appears that the closer Jesus comes to Jerusalem,

the closer the gap is closed

between the kingdom of God and humankind.

Jesus had just been transfigured right before the eyes of his disciples.

He had preached, taught, exercised, healed

and even foretold of his own death

(as if that did any good).

Immediately preceding our text today,

Luke reports “When the days drew near for him to be taken up,

he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

If you were a Samaritan,

this meant you weren’t Jesus’ vacation destination.

He planned to travel through you

to get where he was going.

Where he was going was to the Temple in Jerusalem,

whose authorities had questioned Samaria religious authenticity for the past 500 years.

Being the spurned and shunned stepsister of Jerusalem based religious authorities,

disdain and resentment festered throughout the Samaritan countryside.

At best, Jesus could expect a cold shoulder from the locals.

At worst, Jesus probably expected to be tarred and feathered

and run out of town on a rail.

Isn’t discipleship boatloads of fun?

Yet, the closer Jesus comes to Jerusalem,

the closer the gap is closed

between the kingdom of God and ourselves.

“Pair up!” Jesus commanded,

probably reminiscent of Noah organizing the world’s animals.

One would think that Jesus would have had six pairs,

totaling 12 disciples,

however, it appears that his traveling salvation show

had picked up some interns, Klingons, and hippies along the way.

The prior chapter of Luke reports Jesus feeding five thousand.

Some had wanted to follow, …. just as soon as they got their father buried.

Others wanted to follow, …. just as soon as they finished plowing their fields.

But Jesus rejects such nonsense

like Ken Jennings dismisses a frustrating attempt to buzz into a Jeopardy answer.

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)






5,000 is cut down to 70 eager volunteers

for his next missional foray.

The high standards of discipleship come at a cost.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;” Jesus observes. (Luke 10:2)

Some things never change; do they?

I mean, look at ourselves.

We had 111 people present last Sunday (online and in person)

and we recognize,

we know,

that we are a tiny boat adrift a seemingly unlimited ocean of un-Churched neighbors.

You know the statistics.

The fastest growing religious demographic are

those who have no religious affiliation or backgrounds.

Today, Jesus is sending thirty-five pairs of willing disciples

into a hostile and foreign land,

where the risk of rejection is about 99 percent.

Who would think of walking away from 99 to go after that lost one percent?

Pairs are a beautiful thing.

Especially in the face of rejection.

The message?

The message was the problem.

On top of bluebloods traveling from the north,

the mixed breed Samaritans were going to have their world turned upside down by the message:

The sick, who had grown accustomed to excluding,

would be healed and would have to be reassimilated.

Those possessed by demons

who had been cast as the antagonist for every one of life’s malaise,

would be cast out.

If they couldn’t blame the demon possessed people from across the tracks;

Now who would they blame?

Peace proclaimed on every house?

How could this be,

unless debts would be forgiven, jails emptied, and the dirty washed clean?

And, oh, by the way, expect free room and board.

Yea, like that is going to happen.

If you are not received, simply walk away.

Apparently rudeness is cross-cultural, multi-ethnic, and is multi-lingual.

“We won’t stand for it!” I can hear the Samaritans howling

as they hurl the 35 teams out of their villages

and shut their doors

to keep the night out.

“What? Does Jesus expect us to change?”

With embellished hand gestures:

“Reject us?

We reject you!”

So, “wipe the dust off your feet and move on,” Jesus instructs his disciples.

In a world of self-promotion,

self-made men and women

struggling to climb the ladder of social success

or employment ranks,

the thought of taking on a lab partner

or a project collaborator

just rubs our rhubarb the wrong way.

We might be raised dependent upon our parents,

but if there is any lesson to be learned in our adolescence,

it is the idea that adults must stand on their own two feet.

We don’t depend on others.

Dependence is almost a dirty word

reserved for the poor, the last, the least, the lost, the left behind;

yes, even the widow.

Pairs are a beautiful thing,

Jesus teaches us by his example.

Pairs teach us humility,

shared strength,

mutual support.

The professor of preaching, David Lose, correctly recognizes

“When one falters, the other can help.

When one is lost, the other can navigate.

When one is discouraged, the other can hold faith for both for a while.

That’s what the company of believers does

– we hold on to each other,

console each other,

encourage and embolden each other,

and even believe for each other.”

When it comes to pairs,

nearly everyone is eligible to pair up.

All are welcome to the table.

Pairs might even teach us the value of dependence upon God.

With every new village Jesus visits,

where the way has already been prepared by his ministry teams,

– in the face of ridicule and rejection

and in an environment whose foundation is –

on the one hand, total vulnerability,

and on the other hand, complete and utter dependence –

we get the picture


the gap is closing

between heaven and earth,

between the kingdom of God

and the kingdoms of this world.

Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem where the gap will be closed

once and for all.


“The kingdom of God has come near,” Jesus repeats twice today

to his willing ministry teams.

Pay close attention to what Jesus repeats,

an old seminary professor once taught me.

“The kingdom of God has come near,” Jesus proclaims today.

With every new town visited,

with every passage of every one of our life events

– marriage, children, career, retirement, and the final twilight –

the gap narrows

until it closes in on the cross of Jesus Christ,

we meet Jesus in his death,

and are washed clean by his complete and total redemption.

Sometimes, I know,

Loneliness can be overwhelming.

It is possible to be feel

So isolated from God.

There are times I feel the same way, too.

Yet, today, we are given the encouragement to

pair up!

Everyone, take a partner

with whom we can share the spiritual journey,

a friend to lean on,

a confidant with whom you can depend.

Pair up!

and move forward.

Because when we faithfully lead the way for Jesus,

we draw nearer to the cross,

the gap is lessened,

convergence is imminent,

the kingdom of God comes near.


“No Room for Mediocrity”

26 June 2022

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Luke 9:51-62

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

| Centering Prayer |

There are two essential Christian tasks

Every faith community faces

which draws a chorus of groans and eye-rolls

from even the most loyal and faithful:

suggesting a stewardship drive, and

deciding to recruit new members.

Today’s message is not about stewardship.

It is about discipleship: making disciples for Jesus Christ.

For the first 200 years of the Methodist movement,

we were the leaders in evangelistic

disciple making efforts.

Circuit riders won the West on horseback,

planting more than one church per day,

building more churches than post offices.

It is quipped that Methodist won the west on horseback,

The Presbyterians by stagecoach, and

The Episcopalians by Pullman coach.

We Methodist were rightly called “Evangelicals;”

Back when evangelical meant

Recruiting and instructing disciples of Jesus.

Over the past 40 or 50 years

Most mainline, Protestant denominations,

Have been in decline.

Then, the pandemic.

Now, the impending schism of our own United Methodist Church.

Many well-meaning programs have been implemented

to plug the leak in the dike,

to keep the dam from breaking,

to stop the flow of people leaving the denomination

… but to no avail.

We carefully inspected our motives and metrics,

“It’s not a numbers game.”

“It is not to build up the budget.”

“It’s not growth for growth sake.”

… but to no avail.

We observe the freedom of independent churches

Where the message is a fundamental black-and-white simplified gospel

of prosperity, works righteousness, and cheap grace.

… yet the decline continues.

Be careful of what you wish for.

Dangerous, unintended consequences wait at every turn.

We desire commitment,

but we’re afraid to say the “C” word

For fear of scaring even more people away.

It is frustrating to observe boomers, gen x, gen y, and gen z folks

searching for religious meaning in their lives,

being easily led astray by political operatives,

motivational speakers,

fortune telling psychics,

and salespeople of good feet shoe inserts.


We know that people’s hearts are warmed when they are introduced to Jesus.

Still, we have not had to radically change our passive evangelistic approach

From one of basic hospitality welcoming the occasional visitor

to a more transformational or effective means.


We will not go door-to-door.

“We don’t want to be like Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses.”

What then are we to do?

We are out of practice making disciples.

Where do we start?


Today’s Gospel lesson is a great place to start!

Luke 9:51-62.

It is part of the travel chapters in Luke,

Where Jesus makes his way from Galilee

To his final destination, Jerusalem.

Our lesson identifies four essential elements to bring disciples to Jesus:

1) How NOT to be effective disciples for Christ,

2) Ability to travel required,

3) No excuses accepted for family leave, and

4) No “but first…” clauses.

First, how NOT to be an effective disciple for Jesus.

Disobey Jesus at your own risk.

In the first 6 verses of this 9th chapter of Luke,

Jesus teaches his disciples what to do if they are rejected.

“Where ever they do not welcome you,

as you are leaving that town

shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (6:5)

In our Gospel lesson for today,

messengers sent ahead of Jesus into a Samaritan town are not welcomed.

James and John asked if eternal fire would be sufficient punishment.

“But he turned and rebuked them.”

Bottom line: Disciples of Jesus do not punish,

or threaten those who refuse to welcome Jesus.

Do what Jesus tells you; “shake the dust off your feet” and move on.

Don’t be easily discouraged.

When Jesus began his Galilean ministry

and today when Jesus turns and starts to head to Jerusalem,

he is rejected and turned away in disappointment by hostile locals.

In Galilee, he was turned away by family and friends in his own hometown.

Here, Jesus is a failure in reaching out to people in a Samaritan village.

Fact is, failure is to be expected when ever we make attempts to introduce Jesus to others.

Neither should we be wishy-washy, spineless, or passive.

In today’s lesson, it says Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

He set a goal and was determined to follow through with it.

Jesus was so determined because he had YOUR life on the line.

He knew that he was to suffer,

die for our sins,

and be resurrected from the dead

for our salvation.

He did not ask for a vote, or even seek consensus re: going to Jerusalem.

It is what had to be done to be faithful to his heavenly Father,

so Jesus went.

Secondly, ability to travel is required.

The first of three potential disciples states:

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

This is an absolute, unqualified promise.

We are led to assume he is willing to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, even unto death.

Jesus couldn’t ask for a better prospect, could he?

This person is willing and presumably able to follow Jesus wherever he goes.

There are certainly many wonderful places and opportunities

followers of Jesus may be led.

This first potential disciple could have been put in front of the parade

leading Jesus to Jerusalem:

everyone would take notice of him

carrying Jesus’ flag through towns and country.

But there are also many other places Jesus goes that are less rewarding.

Jesus tells him that foxes and birds have homes to go to,

“but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus has no home.

Jesus may lead the follower to homelessness,

to live among the homeless,

to spread the Good News to the lonely, the poor, the last, least, and left behind.

Luke doesn’t tell us if man followed Jesus;

if he is willing to give up his home.

Neither does Jesus tell this man

That he may have to travel with him to the cross and death.

Thirdly, as painful as it may be, there are no excuses accepted for family leave.

The second of three potential disciples come to Jesus.

He extends to him the open-ended invitation “follow me.”

What a sad story this potential disciple had to tell: his father had just died.

Most of us know how painful it is to experience a death in the family.

The proper, honorable, respectable thing to do

Is to take part in all the funeral and burial arrangements.

If anyone would have a legitimate excuse

to put on hold a decision to follow Jesus for a day or two,

it certainly would be a man whose father just died!

In a rare glimpse of Jesus’ dark humor, he replies,

“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

But it is also an important metaphor: “as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

If you are dead, go and bury your father’s corpse.

Don’t be dead.

But if you are alive, then proclaim the kingdom of God.

Jesus is calling this man to life!

Only those who are truly living can proclaim the kingdom of God.

Life in the kingdom of God is good and grace filled

Even in the midst of mourning and grief.

Life in the kingdom of God

Weeps forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

It is overjoyed by the right.

It is always moving on to perfection.

We never learn if this man follows Jesus;

if he is truly dead and he returns to bury his father,

or if he is alive to Christ,

and goes with Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of God.

Finally, there are no “but first…” excuses.

The third of three potential disciples come to Jesus.

We can assume that he received the same invitation from Jesus

as the second man,

“Follow me.”

He begins with a promise, “I will follow…”

(Notice the future tense, will)

“but let me first…”


This man has a conditional clause.

He has a higher priority than following Jesus;

something more important than proclaiming the kingdom of God.

I call these “butt first clauses”

because it’s like he wants to back into the agreement to follow Jesus,

to take an inside track,

or expect preferential treatment.

We generally prioritize our time;

do what is most important sooner rather than later.

So when this man says, “let me first say farewell to those at my home,”

he is telling Jesus that

while he may be leaving family for a time,

those back home will continue to be more important to him than Jesus.

“Let me put you on hold.

I have a more important call coming in.”

Jesus calls upon an image from Jewish heritage,

citing the story of Elijah calling Elisha as he was plowing the field.

If one is a disciple of Jesus,

charged with making other disciples

and teaching them the teachings of Jesus,

charged with proclaiming the kingdom of God,

charged to follow all the commands of Jesus,

then, discipleship to Jesus Christ comes first.

The plowed field is straight when eyes are forward and concentrated on Jesus.

Looking back, and the plow goes off course.

Jesus first.

Eyes on Jesus.

All other demands are secondary.

We never learn if this man follows Jesus;

if his priority is with Christ,

with family back home

or someplace else.

These travel narratives in Luke

Rewires the brain,

From our expectations of what we think discipleship involves

To what Jesus expects of those who follow him.

Passive evangelism,

Of waiting for visitors to just walk through our doors is

Like taking our hand off the plow and looking back to the good old days

When worship and Sunday school rooms were filled.

Post-pandemic and denominational division

Mean only the strongest will survive.

Survivors will be those who keep their eyes ahead,

Focused on Jesus Christ,

Making discipleship

… Making disciples …

Our top priority.

Let us be resolved

to walk with Christ,

to go wherever he leads.

Today’s lesson tells us what not to do:

don’t disobey Jesus,

don’t get discouraged by failure,

and don’t get wishy-washy or lazy.

In other words, obey his call, be determined, and just do it.

Following Jesus is a call to homelessness.

It is a call go wherever Jesus calls you to go.

Following Jesus means that we choose life over death and burying the dead.

Life is fulling lived when we witness to the emerging kingdom of God.

Following Jesus finally means that we are required to make priorities in life.

Jesus needs to be at the top of the list.

Each person must decide for themselves

whether or not they will follow Jesus;

whether or not they will pay the price of discipleship,

whether or not they’ll keep the hand on the plow

and eyes on Jesus.


“Living with Demons”

19 June 2022

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Luke 8:26-39

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)

Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

| Centering Prayer |

157 years ago

General Gordan Granger

Arrived in Galveston, Texas with his Union troops

To proclaim General Order No. 3

Proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas.

Though freedom was pronounced by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two years prior,

Enforcement relied upon the advance of Union troops.

Last year, Juneteenth,

Also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day,

Was made a federal holiday.

Every June 19th moving forward

Will be known and remembered as Juneteenth.

The chains of slavery in America may have fallen

But the chains of racism, oppression, and suppression remain,

Binding our sisters and brothers of color

Just as tightly as if they were still working the plantation.

The morally bankrupt system of racism

Leads me to believe that evil is alive and well

In our day and age.

To dismiss it,

To diminish it, or

To ignore it,

Places us at great peril.

Where does an 18-year-old have his mind filled with such hate

That he would slaughter

Innocents in a supermarket or a classroom?

Do you believe in demons?

Our Gospel lesson for today requires of us to ask the question:

Do you believe in demons?

Are there really demons?

Is there one waiting for me under my bed?

Is there a demon waiting for me behind the shower curtain?

Are there demons in that Facebook group,

Shouting at me on cable news, or

Waiting for me to visit that conspiracy website?

Some would suggest that what our Gospel describes today is simply a mental health issue;

Someone who was experiencing a psychotic break,

Raging out of touch with reality,

Or who was experiencing some type of brain infarction.

I’m not buying it.

It would be easier to make a diagnosis,

(Though I am not a physician)

That spans cultures, geography, and time,

Than it would be for me to attempt to explain

That which cannot be explained: personified evil.

In other words,

It would be easier for Jesus to

Pronounce Legion crazy,

Dust off his hands,

Get on the boat and leave.

But he doesn’t.

Jesus doesn’t walk away from the demon possessed Legion.

Neither will I.

I do not believe it is possible to simply

Dismiss demons as mere mental illness.

Do you believe in demons?

From both ancient and Renaissance art

To Hollywood motion pictures,

We’ve all had images painted in our brains of

What demons look like:

Devils with bat wings,

Horned monsters armed with tridents,

Human like creatures with

Hanging, mottled skin,

Blood red eyes,

And long, dripping fangs,

Dark hoods and monsters make for good blood curdling screams.

Demons make for good Halloween masks and costumes.

Do you believe in demons?

Luke takes special effort to not speak of Gadara,

A Greek city of the Decapolis,

Just east of the Sea of Galilee.

Instead, he calls it “the country of the Gerasenes.”

Gadara had a reputation under Roman rule.

It was one like

A church in Charleston, South Carolina,

A neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma

A Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

The Romans had captured and destroyed the city

Less than a hundred years before Jesus.

Evil spilled blood in Gadara;

A lot of it.

In a fit of rage, barely thirty years after Jesus visited

Rome would again go on a murderous rampage

Throughout the region in response to the Jewish revolt.

Rome’s rage spilled over into the largely Gentile Gadara.

The Jewish historian Josephus recorded:

“So Vespasian marched to the city of Gadara. He came into it and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever. He set fire to the city and all the villas around it.”

  • Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 7.

I’m guessing

Legion wasn’t the only demon in town.

Do you believe in demons?

I’d suggest demons are very real.

A demon filled with evil and hatred pulled a trigger

And killed 17-year-old Jeremiah Baker last Sunday

While riding his bicycle on William Warfield Drive in the City of Rochester.

An evil filled demon pulls the trigger.

Ripping apart sister and brother,

Parent and child,

Student from his teacher.

Evil rips into communities across our land

Spewing hatred like poison

From the mouths of politicians

And throughout timelines on Social Media.

Demons are ugly.

Demons divide.

Demons destroy.

Demons are cunning.

And demons inspire us

To open up our inner demons

And dive into the poison-filled mosh-pit of sin.

Do you believe in demons?

Jesus had just sailed through a storm.

When the disciples woke him,

Though many were experienced fishermen themselves,

They thought they were going to perish.

Jesus rebukes the wind and raging waves

And “they ceased, and there was calm.”

“Where is your faith?” He asked them.

“Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” – Luke 8:24, 25


Who then is this?

It takes a demon to tell the disciples who Jesus is.

The disciples, at this point in their journey,

Are uncertain who Jesus is;

But every demon in the land is knew exactly who Jesus was.

“When he (Legion) saw Jesus,

he fell down before him

and shouted at the top of his voice,

“What have you to do with me, Jesus,

Son of the Most High God?””

– Luke 8:28

This is the first characteristic of a demon:

Demons know who Jesus is.

It is important to note:

This man, who is filled with demons is

Naked like a Gentile, and

Violently raging out of control.

He had broke chains and shackles

And escaped from guards to terrorize those throughout the countryside.


Who personifies all that is good in this world,

Is then asked by Legion:

“I beg you, do not torment me.”

– Luke 8:28b

Right here you have it,

The second characteristic of demons:

Demons attempt to bargain with Jesus.

The demons inside of Legion

Will wiggle, giggle, and try to squirm their way out of taking responsibility for their actions.

Goodness torments evil,

And demons just cannot tolerate goodness or love.

Therefore, to overcome demons of this world,

To overcome evil of this world,

Christians must wrap ourselves in everything that is good,

Starting with Jesus Christ.

There is no bargaining with evil.

There can be no diplomatic consensus building

Or negotiating away concessions to sin.

This should come as a shock to both theological conservatives and liberals.

On the one side

Are those who want to bend the rules in favor of grace,

While, on the other side,

Are those who favor law

And will attempt to steal the place of God

As the sole judge of our existence.

Both positions are losing propositions.

There is no bargaining with evil.


Jesus doesn’t,

And neither should we.

Jesus torments the demon with his compassion.

He commanded the unclean spirit to come out.

(How comfortable are you with exorcisms?

Hint: Jesus does a lot of them.)

Jesus demands to know the demon’s name.

Yes, demons have names.

“Legion” he said.

There are between four and six thousand soldiers in a Roman legion.

Holy Ghostbusters!

That’s a lot of demons being cast out of Legion.

Having a proper name for this demon possessed man

Gives Jesus another essential advantage:

Jesus knows him by name.

Good knows evil.

God calls out evil.

God overcomes evil.

Did I say demons attempt to bargain?

“They begged Jesus not to order them to go back into the abyss.”

– Luke 8:31

Yep. That’s where demons live.

When they are not embodied in some poor soul:

It was believed demons lived in

Deep, bottomless chasms.

Our Lord’s actions

do not mean he grants the demon’s request.

Jesus has a better idea.

Before him are thousands of demons possessing one man.

On a hillside nearby are

Thousands of pigs.


I think not.

The demons saw the opportunity to avoid the abyss

And asked

… They requested …

To be embodied into all things non-Kosher / non-Jewish:

They asked to go into the swine.

As soon as Jesus grants their petition,

The pigs run down the hillside and drown themselves in the lake.

(A little side note:

At an estimated market price of $3.50 per pound,

Five-thousand 250-pound pigs represent a

$4,375,000 loss to some unknown farmer.

That’s not the end of it.

Call in the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The NY State DEC advises that

Every carcass should be removed from the lake,

Triple bagged, and buried.

Jesus’s action would cost taxpayers now-days approximately $250,000.

Way to go, Jesus.)

News gets back to the locals

And they rush to find the truth for themselves.

Everyone loves to rubber-neck, am I right?

Watch the line of cars back up

So everyone can get a good look at

A motor vehicle accident or

Last night’s house fire in town.

The formerly naked, wild, raging escapee named Legion

Is found


In his right mind

At the feet of Jesus.

Do you believe in demons?

Do you believe in Christ’s ability to exercise demons?

Today, we have an example of a previously demon possessed man

Now demon free

Sitting at the feet of Jesus.

I’d suggest demons are very real.

I earlier mentioned external demons,

Demons that threaten us from the outside;

Those who scare and terrorize us

For no good purpose other than to spew and spread their evil.

Allow me to lead your thoughts in the opposite direction to close the loop.

I’d suggest that there are demons that threaten us from the inside.

Internal demons can be just as dangerous,

If not more so,

Then demons from without.

For some,

Internal demons may be childhood trauma, incest, or abuse.

Demons of regret may infect both victim and abuser.

Demons drive obsessions.

Demons tempt addicts to have a drink,

Shoot up one last time,

And hold gamblers at the table.

Demons can emerge from religious fanaticism, fundamentalism, extremism, or exceptionalism.

Internal demons enslave narrow minds to narrow opinions

And kill every desire for empathy or love.

Demons haunt the mind with would of, could of, should of.

Demons can trap us when we are most vulnerable:

When we trust not in God and

Trust only in our own resolve, resources, talent, and strength.

It is very possible for anyone to become




Jesus is our Savior

When we can’t even save ourselves.

Jesus comes to the possessed, the poisoned, and the powerless.

Demons know who Jesus is.

Demons know Jesus has power over them,

Just as he has power over creation, the wind, and the wave.

So why don’t we know him as well as demons?

By wrapping ourselves in Christ,

We, too, can be freed from every demon that stalks us,

Every terrorist who threatens us, and

Of every demon churning deep inside that threatens to consume us.

Demons are all around us,

Sin and evil are all around us,

So be forewarned and prepared.

Christ can exorcise every demon.

He’s in the demon busting business.

He’s got lots of references,

And he knows what he is doing.

With Christ, exorcism is possible and salvation is assured!

Just as the formerly naked, wild, raging escapee named Legion

Was found clothed,

In his right mind,

At the feet of Jesus,

The Good News of this day is that,

So too, can you and I be exorcised,

Freed from our fears,

Freed from our demons,

Freed from everything and everyone

That threatens us with sin and death.

Christ is greater than any demon of this world.

The power of creation is greater than the power of destruction.

Good overcomes evil.

Ten out of ten times,

The demons flee and are drowned in the lake of evil’s failed ambitions.

Living a life in Christ

Leads demons to flee and

Be drowned

In the lake of

Evil’s failed ambitions.

Wrap yourself in Christ.

Live in Christ.

Place your trust in his power and authority.

Let yourself be freed.