September 5, 2021: 16th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray:  Lord, protect us from the evil one and his minions.  Keep us from throwing away the opportunities we have to receive Your grace.  And may we never, ever, become so jaded on Your gift of life that we ask You to forsake and leave us alone to our own destruction.  Amen


TEXT:  Matthew 8: 28-34

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          I enjoy bacon—good bacon that has a nice smoke.  (Corn cob smoked is excellent!) I enjoy scalloped potatoes and ham, too.  Likewise, I’ve learned that meatloaf mix—beef, pork, and veal, also makes delicious burgers!  I’ve also known a few folks who were very good Christians who disavowed pork citing OT dietary laws.  (Here in our text is a reference to that as the Jews at this time considered pork “unclean.”)  So, why do I eat pork today?  Basically, in OT times the people didn’t know about trichinosis, but God did.  Likewise, pigs eat anything—including a lot of garbage in those days, so disease was always an issue.  Thus, to keep them safe, God banned it, just as He did shellfish, because He knew about red tide and they did not.  That’s the “why” behind the ban. But Christ came to “fulfill all righteousness” and in Him all such laws, including the dietary ones, were done away with.  So, I eat bacon guilt free.


          The times when there is great spiritual outpouring from God are also times when Satan and his minions work extra hard.  I’ve been told by people who work in this field more than I that during the last couple of years they’ve seen more demonic “stuff” than in the past.  Are any of us surprised?  So it was here, during Christ’s ministry. 

          The Gadarene region was basically a heathen enclave by the Sea of Galilee.  They didn’t care about the Old Testament.  They were just greedy and exploitative.  They kept pigs openly because they didn’t cost much to feed and sold for a hefty profit.  They let them forage for themselves and tended them like sheep.  

          Two men who were demon possessed were in some local caves by a graveyard.  These men had super-human strength and lived and looked like animals.  “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”  As Jesus fearlessly approached, they went out and confronted Him: “What do you want with us, Son of God?”  Demons know exactly Who God is and they also know His followers.  They immediately seize on the negative, too, because that’s all evil knows.  “Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?”  But true justice is never a torture.  Alas, attributing evil to God, which is exactly what they are doing, shows just how vile it is.

          “Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus—‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’”  They obviously knew His power and knew that something bad was about to happen, so they cunningly sought to be spared of annihilation by being consigned to a pig host who they would then go on to torment.  But Jesus has a better idea.  “Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.”  A fitting end isn’t it?  Every demon really IS a pig in the worst sense of the word!

          Now comes the really sad part: “Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”  


          If Jesus came down and got rid of all the evil that was infecting your town today, what do you think would happen?  Would people thank Him and praise Him for His goodness?  Would they be happy not to have unborn babies murdered at the local clinic via abortion, all gangs snuffed out, the open sewer of the internet done away with, and banks being forced to never overcharge on their credit card rates?  Or would they complain once their source of income or vice was affected and beg Him to leave and never come back?  Here they chose commerce and greed over their soul’s salvation.  The question for all of us is: Do we fall into the same trap?

          God originally created everything holy, including pigs, clams, mussels, and people.  Evil is what corrupted everything and it is what makes creation unclean in His sight.  Christ’s job was to make it all new, totally clean, once again by suffering and dying in the place of human beings—they being the pinnacle of that creation.  Yes, “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  Moreover, He gives this gift of being a new creation through faith.  By believing, trusting, and thanking Him for His goodness and loving-kindness.  Scripture says that: “God makes all things new in Christ.”  Through faith evil cannot destroy us, but it ends up destroying itself.  Through faith, under the guidance of the commandments, we can savor all things without guilt.  And if we misuse or over-imbibe in our newfound blessings, we can turn to Him, say: “I’m sorry Lord, please forgive me,” and He’ll wash us clean once again.  Such newness of spirit is you’re greatest gift on this earth.  So, now, as a Christian, use it wisely.  Amen

THE peace of God which…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox  

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