On the shores of the Sea of Galilee is a place associated with one of Jesus’ most remarkable miracles. Today this town is called Kursi, but in Jesus’ time it was known as Gerasa. It was not a Jewish town; in fact devout Jews weren’t supposed to come here. Yet it was here that Jesus is said to have encountered a man possessed by horrifying demons.
The Gospels say he was a man named Legion, and he lived among the caves and tombs here. Legion was a man tormented by evil spirits. In the Jewish world of the first century the possessed were social outcasts, forced to live beyond the boundaries of their towns and villages:
Exorcisms still happen today, but they are controversial. Some claim these people are not victims of demons, but rather of what we would term depression or mental illness. For them, an “exorcism” is not a supernatural phenomenon at all, just the moment when a burden is lifted.
But whatever happened on that day in Gerasa, the miracle had far greater significance for those who witnessed it than the release of a poor soul from bondage. There’s a clue in the strange fate of the demons. They are said to have entered the bodies of a herd of pigs grazing nearby. The shocked animals then rushed down the hillside into the sea. And this would have made perfect sense to those watching.
First century Jews knew the ancient scriptures, so they would know that the sea was the home of Satan. If the pigs were possessed by evil spirits, then of course they would plunge into the sea. The demons were returning to their natural habitat.
At Gerasa, it seems, Jesus took on Satan’s minions and won. For the disciples, this victory was full of meaning. They knew there was only one power strong enough to deliver the final victory over evil, the most potent force for good in the universe – God himself.
So, by taking on the demons of Legion and banishing them to the sea, was Jesus suggesting he was God?
Back to the top
Bookmark this page:
In his own time, Jesus was famous as a miracle worker. The miracles shocked those who saw them – not because of the spactacle, but because of the dangerous message they carried about Jesus. In these pages we follow the new BBC series, The Miracles of Jesus, and try to decode three miracles to find out what they were all about.
Images copyright BBC / Religion 2006
Rejesus is looking for new content contributors: artists, writers, thinkers, coders, film makers, creatives. If you have a great proposal get in contact.
I never cease to be amazed at the wisdom which politicians seem to be able to draw on after they… more
Horse chestnut seeds, high vis jacket, goggles, gardening gloves - it means just one thing: the conker season is here.… more
What is your first thought when a stranger comes towards you? Is it friendly or fearful, hostile or welcoming? Do… more