The story of the Gerasene demoniac sticks out in the minds of a casual reader of the Gospels. Jesus steps out of a boat and immediately comes upon a demon-possessed man dwelling in the tombs. Jesus casts these demons into a herd of pigs. They all die. The villagers quickly beg for Jesus to leave their region. Over some time, scholars have studied the differences in the Gospels. Each Gospel writer has purpose for including certain passages of scripture to convey their meaning. Taking this into consideration, what is each Gospel’s purpose for story of the healing of the demoniac?
The story of the Garasene demoniac is one which shows the power and authority of Christ. Each Gospel uses this story specifically and very intentionally. To properly understand the intention of each Gospel writer in including and excluding elements of this story, a grasp of this passage’s literary context in each Gospel is necessary.
In Matthew, this event occurred relatively early on in Jesus’ ministry. He had already given his sermon on the mount, but he had not yet called his twelve disciples. Chapter eight consists of Jesus performing miracle after miracle after miracle. On the heels of giving his sermon on the mount, Jesus heals the leper. Then, Jesus commanded the leper to tell no one about what he had done to heal him. Next, Jesus healed the centurion’s servant after seeing his great faith. Jesus continues to heal and also drives out evil spirits. Jesus made it clear to his followers that his way will not be easy. The passage prior to the demoniac is one of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. For each Gospel, this story is immediately before the story of the Garasene demoniac.
Mark and Luke have similar contexts. Both contain the parable of the lamp on a stand and parable of the sower shortly before the healing of the demon-possessed man in Garasenes. These parables discuss the coming of the kingdom of God. After the healing of the demoniac, both Gospels contain the discourse regarding the dead girl and the sick woman. Interestingly, although having recently told the healed demoniac to tell everyone what had happened to him, Jesus told all the witnesses of the raising of Jairus’ daughter to never tell others what had occurred there.
At first glance, the author of Matthew appears to be less concerned about the story of the demoniac than do the authors of Mark and Luke. For example, Matthew’s version of the story is less than half of the length of Mark and Luke’s versions. Also, in Matthew, the demon addressed Jesus as the “Son of God”, while in Mark and Luke, the demon addressed him as “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” Matthew also does not contain the conversation between the healed man and Jesus. It seems that Matthew’s account places the story in the middle of a series of healings. In Mark and Luke, this story seems very intentionally placed.
The story is located in a section between Matthew’s...