Sermon: The Soul’s Infinite Worth (Luke 8:26-38)

The Soul’s Infinite Worth

How valuable is a soul?  To what length is God willing to go to retrieve a lost soul?  In our text today, we are shown the purpose Jesus had in setting sail from Capernaum in Galilee.  We see why He was willing to encounter the mega storm at sea.  We see why Jesus was willing to go across the great sea even though He knew what was waiting for Him during the trip and on the other side.

Jesus was willing to go to great lengths to save one tortured soul.  How valuable is one human soul?  To God the soul is priceless…

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? [1] 

Jesus is willing to cross land and sea, to endure life threatening storms, to encounter the forces of evil, and to even give His own life for one soul.

Luke highlights two very important points, the Jesus Christ is God and more powerful than all the host of hell combined and the human soul is of infinite worth.

Hear the Word of God…

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. [2]

May we be doers of the Word and not hearers only…

1. The Power of Satan Over Lost Souls (Luke 8:26-29)

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.)

The Bible shows us very well that Satan and His army of demons have great power over lost souls.  Men and women in the Scriptures are influenced, affected by and even possessed by demons.  These instances are not figurative but are real and to be taken literally.  When a demon possesses a lost person, the person becomes powerless to exert his or her own will but is enslaved by the demon.  They do the demon’s bidding.  Some cases seen in Scripture are worse than others, this case before us today is probably the worse case recorded.

Satan’s goal is to copy in an evil way God’s good things.  He has and will continue desiring to be like God.  His pride and arrogance has driven him mad with this infinite obsession.  He also desires to destroy everything God created good, especially mankind.

Demon possession is Satan’s attempt to copy the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of believers.

Luke records for us what the demons had done to this man:

For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.

The demons had caused this man to wear no clothing, which would be very humiliating to say the least.  He had not lived in his house for a long time but lived among the tombs.  Evil spirits have an obsession with death and dying because they introduced sin into the world and death reigns because of sin.  Their greatest trophies are cemetery tombstones and here, they loved the tombs hewn out ready to claim the next victim.

This poor soul could not be contained.  The power of Satan was too much for the people to manage.  They would try to chain this man to control him but the evil was too much to control.  He would break his chains and would be back at it again running rampant and terrorizing the town’s people.

The evil spirits hated this man.  They hated him and hated his soul.  Their goal was his destruction.  Where could this tortured man turn?  Everyone in the town was either afraid of him or hated him.  His case was hopeless.

When people are possessed as we see in Scriptures they are on the one hand drawn to Jesus or probably forced to come to Jesus through His divine power.  These demons know who Jesus is.  There is no mistake here; Luke wants us to again understand that the demons know Jesus as the Son of God.  The man ate up with demons begs Jesus to not torment him.  The man knew that the torment of the demons was nothing to be compared to the torment of hell that awaits all who are left in their sin.  It’s hard to discern exactly if this is the man speaking or the demons.  One clue that it could be the man is the pronouns are first person singular and later when the demons speak the pronouns are first person plural.

2. The Power of Christ over Satan (Luke 8:30-33)

30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

The Lord asks the man his name.  He was so enslaved by evil that he couldn’t even speak his name.  The evil spirits answer…Legion.  In the Bible we have heard this term before.  A Legion is 4000-6000 soldiers.  Some commentators say that this is symbolic but I believe this is an accurate count of the number of demons that possessed this man.  Mark’s Gospel gives the number of 2000 pigs that stampeded into the sea.

First we encounter the man begging Jesus to not torment him.  Now we read about the demons begging Jesus to not cast them into the abyss.  Why would a legion of demons fear Jesus?  Christ has the power to destroy them with a word.  Their day of torment is quickly approaching.  With a word from Christ the demonic forces will all be cast into the lake of fire.  This is a prelude to their coming destruction.

Jesus has entered Gentile country and is showing the non-Jewish people that He is setting up His Kingdom and that they can also be included.  Our Lord’s Kingdom is not just for Jews but for all people.

There was a time when Jesus was accused of casting out devils by the power of devil.  He made a very good point when He responded…

28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. [3] 

Satan is the strong man.  That day, Jesus entered Satan’s domain lays hold of the strong man…a Legion strong binds them and casts them into the swine.  He then leaves Satan’s house carrying with Him the tortured soul.  This also is prelude for the Book of Revelation when Satan will be completely bound.

They begged Jesus not to torment them and then begged Him to give them permission to enter, instead, a herd of swine.  Pigs were considered by God to be an unclean animal.  It’s very fitting for unclean spirits to enter unclean animals.

Once the demons enter the pigs, the whole herd runs out of control into the sea and are all drowned.  This also is a picture that someday the evil spirits will be cast into the Lake of Fire and be destroyed.

3. Take Care How You Hear (Luke 8:36, 37)

36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

The famous 20th Century British Philosopher Sir Bertrand Russell wrote a book called why I am not a Christian.  In it, he gives some very poor reasons which make not much sense but one of them stems from this account.

Russell argues, Jesus Christ was neither the best nor the wisest of men…there is the instance of the Gadarene swine, Russell writes, where it certainly very kind to the pigs to put the devils into them and make them rush down the hill to the sea.  You must remember that He was omnipotent, and He could have made the devils simply go away; but He chose to send them into the pigs…I cannot myself feel that either in the matter of wisdom or in the matter of virtue Christ stands quite as high as some other people known to history. [4]

Sir Bertram Russell believed that Jesus was wrong in doing what He did.  He believed that a herd of swine was worth more than a man’s soul.  He has set himself up as Christ’s judge in declaring Him ethically wrong for what He did.  Jesus had a purpose.  His purpose was a prelude to final destruction of the forces of evil.  Just as fast as the swine ran into the lake so the demons will run into the lake of fire at their final destruction.

There were other people that day like Russell the philosopher…

37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.

We must take care how we hear.  The towns in the area heard about this amazing miracle and rather than being happy and astonished, they did not want to have a thing to do with Jesus.  It’s not everyday madmen are healed or that 2000 pigs commit mass suicide so the news spread very quickly.  The farmers were the next ones to beg Jesus to do something.  They begged Him to leave.  Why were they so bent on getting Jesus to go away?  Jesus had taken away their treasure.  They cared more for pigs than for a man’s soul.

GADARA, A.D. 31
Rabbi, begone! Thy powers
Bring loss to us and ours.
Our ways are not as Thine.
Thou lovest men, we–swine.
Oh, get you hence, Omnipotence,
And take this fool of Thine!
His soul? What care we for his soul?
What good to us that Thou hast made him whole,
Since we have lost our swine?
And Christ went sadly.
He had wrought for them a sign
Of Love, and Hope, and Tenderness divine;
They wanted–swine.
Christ stands without _your_ door and gently knocks;
But if your gold, or swine, the entrance blocks,
He forces no man’s hold–he will depart,
And leave you to the treasures of your heart.
No cumbered chamber will the Master share,
But one swept bare
By cleansing fires, then plenished fresh and fair
With meekness, and humility, and prayer.
There will He come, yet, coming, even there
He stands and waits, and will no entrance win
Until the latch be lifted from within.[5]

For the farmers and town’s people, Jesus brought them loss.
They were in their wrong mind.  They valued swine over the soul.  The tables are now turned.  The town’s people have not heard correctly the teaching of Christ.  They would rather have idols than Christ.  We’ll see that it is not the man who was formerly not in his right mind who now is the only one thinking clearly.

4. The Change (Luke 8:38,39)

38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

Notice what the man is begging for now…Rather than begging Jesus to leave him alone, he begs to go with Him.

Before he was out of control—now we find him sitting at the feet of Jesus (Disciple)

Before he was unclothed—now he is clothed

Before out of his mind—now in his right mind

Before he had many demons—now he’s known as The man from whom the demons had gone

Before he lived among the tombs—now Jesus tells him, Return to your home

This former man who everyone feared and was in torment will be the first Christian to proclaim the Good News to his homeland that Jesus saves!

His mission: declare how much God has done for you.

Luke tells us plainly…He declared how much Jesus had done for him.

Every Christian has an amazing story to tell.  You may not have been demon possessed and enslaved by them but we all have been enslaved by sin.  If asked prior to salvation we could have all testified that sin had enslaved and controlled us.  The town’s people loved their swine.  To them they were more valuable than this man’s soul.  How valuable is a soul to you?  Are you willing to suffer loss in order to save a soul?  How valuable is your own soul?  Are you laying up eternal treasure or are you bartering for earthly goods at the expense of your own soul?

Would have been like the town’s people begging Jesus to depart or begging Him to stay?

Today, if you have any concerns about your soul please seek me out and we can sit down together and talk.


[1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 16:26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Lk 8:26–39). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 12:28–29). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] Philip Graham Ryken on Luke Volume 1 pg. 393

[5] From a sermon on Luke 8 by Ligon Duncan… William Arthur Dunkerley (November 12, 1852 – January 23, 1941) was a prolific English journalistnovelist and poet. He wrote under his own name, and also as John Oxenham for his poetry, hymn-writing, and novels. His poetry includes Bees in Amber: a little book of thoughtful verse (1913) which became a bestseller. He also wrote the poem Greatheart. He used another pseudonym, Julian Ross,

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