Americans love horror movies. From almost the dawn of the motion picture there has been the horror film genre. It began with unreal monsters like Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolf Man and FRANKENSTIEN! Frankenstien just might be the most frightening of the classic horror movie monsters. Why? Because he's the most human, despite looking monstrous, all half dead and made of dead people parts, he exhibits a bit of humanity. At the same time he's clearly a monster and very frightening, especially Mary Shelley's version of Dr. Frankenstien monster. The one were all so familiar with is the classic Frankenstien movie directed by Frank Whales. The most memorable and popular scene is when the monster is brought to life during a lightening storm. This is the first time we see the monster, but it's hard to tell who's the monster, the scientist ranting and raving and comparing himself to God, or the man made of dead people laying on the table twitching. The movies that scare us most are those movies that depict us humans as the monsters. There is nothing more frightening than a monstrous human because that can be real, in fact it is and we know it. One of the most infamous monsters of 20th century America is Charlie Manson. He convinced a group of young adults to not only murder, but slaughter innocent men, women and babies. When we hear him speak we know he's crazy and one might even think, he's got a demon.... or 20.
Demons aren't real though...are they? I mean didn't science and medicine dispel the existence of demons long ago in exchange for mental illness and psychological disturbances? Demons are not something we talk about in America or the West for that matter. We don't believe in there existence at least not really, not outside of church or the movie theater. We're not filled with fear of the unknown or unseen like our ancestors were, back when everything was the result of a malicious or malevolent spirit. We know better. Illness is cause my viruses and bacteria and the reason we can't see them is because they are to small. But does all this mean that demons don't really exist, that they are somehow things of a by gone era? I don't think so. I think they are still here with us, they just manifest themselves in different ways now. Our societies demons are greed, selfishness, narcissism, broken homes and abusive relationships. Perhaps their manifestations aren't really that different after all.
In our passage this morning Jesus encounters a raving lunatic who is said to have been demon possesd. We know him as the Gersene Demoniac. We catch up with Jesus and the 12 after several days of very eventful ministry. They had just arrived from the other side of Lake Galilee a lake about the size of our own black Lake in Onaway, MI. In fact Jesus had just calmed the storm, demonstrating his authority over the chaos that threatens creation. As they landed, in a area that was thickly populated with Gentiles, they were immediately approached by the demoniac. I don't know about you, but if a see a raving, butt naked man heading my direction...I'm going the other way. In fact I probably would have jumped right back on that boat and gone home. This is what the demon wanted, to frighten Jesus, to intimidate his human side and to drive away any hope of the gospel being brought to gentile peoples. But this did not happen, Jesus stood his ground. The demoniac was naked, homeless, raving, living amongst the dead. He was monstrous, un human, dehumanized and beyond human control or help. He recognizes Jesus and begs him to not destroy them, Jesus asks him his name and here we get the real story about why this man is so crazy. He says his name is Legion, or a multitude, to many to count! Jesus then tricks the demons into the swine where they run off a cliff and die sending the demons into the abyss. The man is restored, all his demons are gone and he is at peace. The man then indicates his desire to leave his home and follow Jesus and Jesus tells him no, that he should stay and be his appointed representative of the gospel to his gentile people. Jesus then sends him home, completing the cycle. The man was inhuman , homeless and cast out from society. Jesus restored all of this to the man, including his rightful place amongst other humans.
This mans demons we're unlike many of the demons that dwell in us, that threaten to overwhelm us to the point were we lose our humanity. The difference between us and him is that he let it all take over his life. All of life's issues, all of life's dirty little secrets and all of life's darkness. It over took him, we was plunged into a world of darkness and despair where no one could help him, no one but God. But we don't have to let it get this way. Theres a story about a father who took his two year old son shopping with him. While in the store the child was crazy. Everything the dad put in the cart the boy threw out and every time the dad got to close to a shelve the boy would, with one swipe of his arm, knock everything into the cart. The father found himself saying, "It's ok Tommy", "Almost done Tommy.", "It won't be long Tommy.", "Just settle down there Tommy." When the man was all done shopping a nice old lady came up to him and said, "I'm so impressed by the way you handled little Tommy, with such patience and comforting words." The man then said to the kind old women, "Lady, my sons name is Michael, I'm Tommy." To avoid the kind of life devastating demon infilling that the Gresene demoniac faced we need to start with ourselves. We need to learn to handle our problems up front and admit when we are in trouble and seek God's and others help and advice. The demoniac was overwhelmed becasue he tried to go it alone and we just can't do that somtimes. He tried to handle life's issues without realizing how powerful they were and it destroyed his life. We do the same thing. Just ask any addict. Before they lost their job or their family or their home they began to realize they were dealing with a pretty serious demon, but before long they began to believe they had no problem and by then it was to late. To get them cleaned up it takes and act of God. One of the last songs Johnny Cash recorded was "Hurt", a Nine Inch Nails song written in the mid 90's. The song is about the pain and agony of addiction, the pain of loneliness and the purposelessness of life when demons have taken over. Well I'm here to tell you today, it doesn't have to be that way. Jesus can heal you. He can cast out all the demons in your life that have over taken you and have overwhelmed you and who have destroyed your life. Whatever demons they might be, whether it's addiction, lies you've told, unfaithfulness in a marriage or abuse Jesus can stop the monsters inside you and restore your humnity. All you need is to have an encounter with him, and he's here right now beside you. Now may you be restored to wholeness and be redeemed by the savior. Amen