EXEGESIS: LUKE 8, DEMON POSSESSION, PIG AS A SYMBOL
When the Demons Went
Into the Pigs
Image by Josh P. Crocket
Pamela Ayn Austen
26. They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27. When Jesus stepped ashore, He was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothing or lived in a house, but he stayed in the tombs.
28. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before Him, shouting in a loud voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you not to torture me!" 29. For Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was bound with chains and shackles, he had broken the chains and been driven by the demon into solitary places. 30. "What is your name?" Jesus asked. "Legion," he answered, because many demons had gone into him.
Why did Jesus agree to send the demons into the pigs?
What Jesus has shown me about demons is that they want to go in and inhabit people, but not because they need a house or they feel naked. It is always a spiritual motivation with them, and their motivation is to mock the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They want to inhabit a human being the way God wants to inhabit us with his Holy Spirit through Jesus, but they want to do it to mock and jeer at God, to cause trouble and destroy God's work, and to make fun of God and his children.
The pigs in this story are a symbol. The Old Testament Law said not to eat or touch the corpse of any animal that doesn't both chew the cud and have cloven hooves.
The cloven hoof represents a life separated from the sinful world. An animal that chews the cud represents someone who constantly learns and meditates on the truths of God's word.
An animal that chews the cud but doesn't have cloven hooves symbolizes someone who learns God's word, but does not separate their life from the sins of the worldly. Their religion is in their academic mind, but not in their heart. They are carnal still, and have not given themselves fully to God's kingdom. God said, "These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Isaiah 29:13
The animal that has cloven hooves but doesn't chew the cud symbolizes someone who has separated their life from others, as though they are more holy, but they do not learn or mediate on God's word.
Pigs have cloven hooves, but they do not chew the cud. Pigs symbolize the religious self-righteous who separate from all others as though being more holy, but they have nothing to do with Jesus or the one true God.
You'll notice in verse 29 of this story that the demons had driven this man out into solitary places. He is separated from the world, but he isn't remotely righteous and good. He is separated out, but he is filthy, wild, and demon possessed. The pigs nearby symbolize this man, and those like him.
The demons in the man were afraid to go into the abyss, so they begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs. But Proverbs 16:9 says: "The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." The demons planned to go into the pigs and use their little legs to run away from Jesus, but the Lord directed the pigs' steps, and he ran them into the water to die.
I believe this symbolizes the person who self-righteously separates their life from others, most likely while worshiping a false god in a false religion or cult, but since they do not know Jesus, all they've done is senselessly drive themselves to their own destruction.
Because without Jesus, God's word says it is impossible to reach the Father; and without faith in Jesus, it is impossible to please God. John 14:6 and Hebrews 11:6 These people may plan their own way to heaven, but the Lord will direct their steps to destruction.
God's word says that those who persist in rejecting the truth of Jesus will perish, because they refused to believe the truth that could have saved them. 2 Tim. 2:10
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