The shivering man huddled against the rough rock in the pre-dawn chill. He trembled, clinging to the tomb. He barely remembered how it started, but that hardly mattered now. The truth was cold and harsh. He was alone. He couldn’t be healed, couldn’t be helped, couldn’t be free.
The dark voices echoed constantly through his head. They had all the control. At first, their power had been exhilarating. But as their control over him grew, he spent his half-lucid moments trying desperately to make them leave.
He’d ripped his clothes off, but the demons were too deep to be removed like a garment. He’d beaten himself with rocks, hoping that by destroying the body they controlled they would find another haven. But they only reveled in his agony. His family and former friends had chained him time and again, but the shackles became merely a symbol of his slavery. They could not contain him, any more than he could control the demons. He was a slave.
Eventually he had been driven from town, tormented night and day by the demons that would not leave him alone. No one had the power to free him, and the demons mocked his desire for control. And so life had gone on for endless days and nights.
But this morning, something was different. The demons were afraid, afraid of something they sensed coming their way. Was there something, someone who had power over their evil? Now with the first rays of the sun, he saw it. The graveyard overlooked the lake, and in the distance he saw a boat. The closer it came, the more he sensed his tormentors’ apprehensions grow. And the more frantic they became, the more tightly they seized control of his mind and body.
The boat landed. The demons saw what they had feared. A man stepped onto the shore. The demons grew frantic at his approach.
“It is Jesus! It is Jesus!” Their voices echoed in his head. In unwilling obedience, the naked man raced down the hill and fell on his knees before Jesus, shrieking at the top of his lungs. The others began to draw back to the boat, but Jesus gave no ground. He spoke quietly, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit.”
Giving voice to the fearful demons who owned him, the man began to yell, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”
“What is your name?”
“Legion, for we are many.” In agony, they begged Jesus, over and over, not to order them into the Abyss. Finally, they pleaded “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”
Jesus spoke only one word: “Go.” The demons obeyed.
The man fell limp on the ground as the demons released him. Though he was later told what happened next, that first moment of freedom was what he always remembered. No more voices, no more pain, no more torture. He was free. And he never forgot the face of the One who had power to control the uncontrollable, the One who freed the hopeless slave. He saw Jesus.
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