Prayer Meeting in the Graveyard
I have preached about these incidents previously which were written on the book of Mark. Let’s talk about this once more as it was written in Luke, this time looking at different perspective. The Bible records some unusual prayer meetings. Jonah prayed to the Lord from the belly of the great fish. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den for praying to God, where he no doubt prayed during the long night. During a terrible storm at sea, Paul prayed while on board the ship and later while swimming to shore. Paul also often prayed when he was in prison. However, one of the strangest prayer meetings ever recorded in Scripture took place in a graveyard. Read: Luke 8:26-40
This morning I want us to notice three different prayers that were uttered. One by demons, another by the citizens of the region, and finally one by a new born Christian. Two were answered yes, and one was answered no. Let’s examine the motives behind Christ’s response to these prayers.
I. The Prayer of the Demons.
A. Note the order of events.
1. As Jesus and His disciples land on shore, they are met by a man who was demon-posessed.
2. Jesus commands the unclean spirit to come out of the man.
3. The demons respond to Jesus.
B. Consider their response to Christ.
1. They know exactly who Jesus is!
a. Note v 28 “…Jesus, thou Son of God most high…”
b. Every time we find Jesus encountering demons, they always know who He is.
c. In this respect, they are smarter than a lot of liberal theologians today as well as those people who claims to be Christians but teaches that Christ is a lesser God
2. Consider : James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
a. While the knowledge of who Christ is should cause us to stand in awe and fear before Him…
b. Mere knowledge of Christ is not enough!
c. We must commit our lives to the Lord in complete obedience to His will.
d. If we don’t, then we are no different than the demons!
3. Demon posession is real!
a. To say that this man was mentally disturbed would be absurd!
b. These demons were real, they had robbed this man of everything worthwhile in life.
c. They had taken his health, his sanity, his morality, and his decency.
d. They were destroying his mind and body, robbing him of peace!
e. This is what Satan does to those who allow him to take control.
4. Demons are powerless in the presence of Jesus Christ.
a. Notice that the demons never questioned whether or not they would be cast out.
b. Once Jesus had come to give this man life, the demons were powerless to resist His will.
c. Don’t you believe for a minute that demons can posess a person who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit!
d. “… Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” cf. 1Jn. 4:4b
C. Consider the demons’ prayer requests. cf. v28 & v31-32
1. They begged Jesus not to torment them!
a. Do you find that a bit strange?
b. What had they been doing to this poor man for years?
2. They begged Jesus not to send them “into the deep”. v31
a. This phrase is a reference to the abyss, or bottomless pit, which was the place of punishment for evil spirits.
b. This is the same place that Satan will be bound for a 1000 years during the Millennial reign of Christ.
3. They begged Jesus to allow them to enter into a nearby herd of swine instead. v32
a. Jesus answered their prayer by allowing them to enter into the herd of swine.
b. The herd ran violently down the hillside and into the lake where they drowned.
c. As Russ Fox said, “They committed hogicide!”
II. The Prayer of the Citizens.
A. Notice the events. v34-37
1. They who were tending to the herd ran quickly into the city and in the country and told what had happened.
2. The people had to see this for themselves so they came out to the graveyard.
3. Note what they saw:
a. The former demoniac was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
b. He was clothed, and in his right mind.
B. Notice their response.
1. They were afraid! v35
2. The witnesses told the others exactly how it had happened that this man was no longer demon-posessed.
3. When the people saw what Jesus had done for this man, they should have rejoiced.
a. This had been a man who had terrorized the neighborhood.
b. He had ran around naked, screaming, cutting himself, and was totally uncontrollable.
c. However, instead of gratitude, the people displayed an attitude of fear, anger, and alarm.
4. It is interesting to note that it was the dramatic change in this man that brought their greatest fear.
5. As long as he was running around like a maniac, they were satisfied, but when Jesus delivered him from his old life and gave him a new one, then the people were afraid!
a. This is a common response.
b. As long as folks live a life that is controlled by alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality, and other destructive habits things are fine.
c. But! Let that person get saved, start reading his Bible, going to church, and witnessing for Jesus.
d. Then family and friends which should be thankful for the change begin to treat them like they are crazy!
C. Consider the prayer request of the citizens. v37
1. The whole multitude of the country begged Him to leave.
2. Not just the owners of the swine, but everyone in the area!
3. They knew that the only answer to what had happened was in Jesus Christ, and they didn’t want to accept Him.
4. They had been confronted by His person and His power, but they didn’t want to deal with their own need!
5. People today are still pushing Jesus Christ out of their lives.
a. There is no room for Him in our government…
b. no room for Him in our schools…
c. no room for Him in many of our homes…
d. and unfortunately, no room for Him in many churches today!
D. Jesus answered their prayer.
1. He went up into the ship, and returned back again.
2. Note the contrast between the two groups of people.
a. the people of Gadara couldn’t wait for Him to leave…
b. but, the look at v40.
c. “… when Jesus returned, the people gladly received Him: for they were all waiting for Him.”
3. Why did Jesus grant their request?
a. Jesus will never force Himself upon anyone.
b. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance.
c. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but we must receive Him into our lives willingly!
III. The Prayer of the New Believer.
A. Consider his request in v38.
1. This was a natural response for him
2. Jesus had delivered him from his bondage to sin and the devil.
3. He wanted to be with Jesus, learn from Him, and serve Him with his new life.
4. He was a vivid example of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…”
B. Jesus said, “No” to his prayer request.
1. Rather than allowing him to come along with the disciples and Himself.
2. He sent him home with a commission, “…Show what great things God hath done unto thee.”
a. First, because Christian living begins at home!
b. Second, because Christian work begins with witness.
3. I’ve known men who have failed in this area.
a. The priority list is very clear from Scripture.
b. Our personal relationship with God is first…
c. Our relationship with our mate is second…
d. Then comes our relationship with our children and other family members…
e. Then comes our relationship to our church…
f. Then our ministry…
g. After these comes work and hobbies and etc.
4. If we get our priorities out of order, our effectiveness as a Christian witness will be hindered.
C. Notice the man’s response to the unanswered prayer. v39
1. He immediately obeyed Christ’s command.
2. No excuses, no complaints, just faithful obedience.
3. The result was that the whole city heard the witness of Christ’s power and great works.
What about us today? Have you been saved? Do you know the transforming power of Jesus Christ in your life this morning? Or have you been like the citizens of Gadara, rejecting Christ and refusing to face up to your need for eternal life? Won’t you allow Christ to come in today?
Perhaps you are here this morning and you have accepted Christ as Saviour, but you have not been obedient to His commands. You need to come today and yield your life to Christ. Have you been Scripturally baptized? Do you tithe on the income that God has blessed you with? Are you actively involved in supporting missions here and around the world? Are you the witness that you ought to be? Why not come now? Maybe your priorities are out of order. Why not come this morning and get things settled? Whatever the need, Christ will meet you here at this altar.