One day, Jesus falls fast asleep while on the lake of Gennesaret with his disciples.
Meanwhile, a storm blows up over the lake, and the boat starts to fill with water. This isn't looking good.
Jesus's disciples wake him up: "Master, master, we are perishing!" (8:24).
Jesus rises to rebuke the wind and water, which return to a state of total calm. That was easy.
The storm is over, but Jesus isn't psyched. He asks his disciples: "Where is your faith?" (8:25).
The disciples are overcome with fear and awe; they wonder who on earth this is who can control the weather.
They all arrive in the region of the "Garasenes" (8:26), a non-Jewish territory opposite Galilee. The KJV translates it as "Gadarenes"—different place!
Side note for interested learners: Both readings have important Greek manuscripts to back them up, but really both cities are problematic.
Gerasa is over thirty miles southeast of lake Gennesaret, while Gadara is about six miles south. There's also a third reading with strong support in the manuscripts, "Gergasa," which is a city that is actually on the lake. Man the Bible is complicated.
As Jesus gets off the boat, a man possessed by many demons meets him. This guy's naked and has been living in a cemetery. Great.
When he sees Jesus, he screams and falls at his feet.
Like all the demons before them, those controlling this guy know exactly who Jesus is, "Son of the Most High God," (8:28). These otherworldly beings know even more than Jesus's own disciples.
The demons are anxious about what Jesus wants with them and are begging him to go easy.
Jesus orders "the unclean spirit" (8:29) to get out.
The narrator underlines the severity of the case. This spirit has for a long time held this guy by an iron fist and even shattered the chains and shackles by which he was restrained in order to drive him into "the wilds" (8:29). Yowza.
Jesus asks the spirit its name, and the spirit replies, "Legion," for a whole army of demons had taken possession.
History buffs take note: Legio is a Roman military term designating a group of six-thousand soldiers. For another connection between the Roman empire and the demonic world, flip back to 4:6.
For the rest of you, we're not talking about Legos—but we could be. Anyway, the demons beg Jesus not to order them into the "abyss" (8:31 NRSV) or "deep" (KJV).
Now there's a herd of pigs nearby grazing on a mountain. This detail is clearly in keeping with the non-Jewish character of this region, since pigs are unclean animals for Jews who don't eat pork (chalk it up to Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8).
Jesus orders the demons to enter the pigs, which rush off the cliff only to drown in the lake.
The people in charge of the pigs run off to tell everyone. People come to see for themselves and find the exorcized man sitting at Jesus's feet clothed and sound of mind. That's what we in the age of science would call conclusive proof.
The blood of the townspeople starts to curdle from fright.
And in an ancient version of Survivor, the whole populace votes Jesus off the island.
Why? They are totally in the grips of fear.
Jesus boards his boat and sails away, but not before the former demoniac requests to go along, too. But Jesus says farewell to him and asks him to spread the word of what God has done.
And spread it he does. He accosts people throughout his region with his story. But he adjusts one not-so-minor detail. Instead of proclaiming what "God did" as Jesus instructs him, he goes on talking about what "Jesus did" (8:39).