This is a story where it is difficult to not bring elements into my thinking from Mark and Luke. Matthew tells the story his own way, and I’ll concentrate on what Matthew says, not on what he doesn’t say.
The boat with Jesus and the disciples comes across the lake into the area called Decapolis, or Ten Cities. There they meet two (Matthew has this curious characteristic of doubling from the other gospels) demon-possessed men who cause trouble for travelers.
Matthew doesn’t say much about the men, but the demons in them recognize Jesus for who he is, the Son of God. They know they are doomed in the long run, but they see Jesus before they were expecting to, and ask to be moved into a herd of pigs.
Jesus obliges their request and they proceed to kill the pigs by drowning in the lake. Naturally, the people of the town are disturbed about their loss and ask Jesus to leave their territory, which he does.
It’s curious how little Matthew tells about the men, before or after their exorcism. But my job today is to extract some discipleship stuff from the passage, since this is what Matthew is teaching through his gospel in this section.
- The disciples are with Jesus and observe all this. This is the first fully explained exorcism in the gospel, and they see what their own future ministry may entail.
- Jesus cares more about people than pigs.
- Some people care more about pigs than people.
- When you help people, you will not always be welcome.
What else am I missing?