The Bible describes a famous miracle involving Jesus Christ sending demons out of two possessed men and into a nearby herd of pigs in three Gospel reports: Matthew 8:28-3, Mark 5:1-20, and Luke 8:26-39. Matthew's report focuses on both men, while Mark's and Luke's focus on the one who thanked Jesus by telling others about what Jesus had done for him. Here's the story, with commentary:
Have You Come to Torture Us?
Matthew 8:28-29 begins the story this way: "When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
'What do you want with us, Son of God?' they shouted. 'Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?'"
The demons recognized Jesus' identity and became alarmed as a result. The Bible says that God has appointed a time after the end of the world to carry out judgment on all the demons for the evil choices they've made, and the demons here wanted to know if Jesus was going to punish them earlier than they expected.
Crying Out and Cutting Himself
Mark and Luke both provide more details about one of the men -- the one who thanked Jesus after he restored him to spiritual and physical health. Mark 5:2-5 says: "When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones."
Send Us Into the Pigs
After the demons shout their question at Jesus, he doesn't respond to them, but turns his attention to helping the men.
Mark 5:9-11 describes the conversation Jesus had with the man who later thanked him: "Then Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?'
'My name is Legion,' he replied, 'for we are many.' And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, 'Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.'
He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about 2,000 in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned."
The demons answer the question that Jesus asks the man, because they're controlling his body while they're possessing him. The man can't overcome the many demons who had taken up residence inside of him.
Jesus grants the demons their request, giving them permission to enter the pigs rather than flee from the area entirely. It's an interesting choice that shows him showing mercy to the demons while still driving them out of the man so they can't cause him any more suffering.
Telling What Happened
Luke 8:34-39 concludes the story by saying: "When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gadarenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.'
So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him."
Matthew concludes his report about both healed men by noting in verses 33 and 34: "Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all 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."
One of the men for whom Jesus had performed this miraculous exorcism responded with great gratitude, but many people responded with fear, so Jesus respected their wishes to leave the region.