Authority Over the Demonic Realm: Matthew 8:28-34
“28) When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29) And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30) Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31) The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32) And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33) The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34) And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.” Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭28‬-‭34‬ ‭
We now have an account of Jesus going into the land of the Gadarenes. Immediately, he was met by two demon possessed men who were exceedingly violent. Mark 5:1-20 tells the same story with many additional details. In the Mark account there was one man that Jesus focused on. I assume he was the primary spokesman.
Mark focuses more on the tragic physical, mental and emotional torment being inflicted by the demons. Apart from saying they were violent, Matthew focuses on the exchange between Jesus and the demoniacs. Let me share a few brief observations from this text.
First, from verse 29 we discover that the demons recognized Jesus. They called Him the Son of God. We can conclude that the realm of angels and demons know the identity of Jesus.
Second, they asked if He had “come to torment us before the time?” What an irony. They were tormenting people, but they understood the dynamics would one day change. They faced a future of judgement and torment.
Third, they made reference to “before the time?” Satan as the god of this world and his kingdom of darkness has limited time. These demons understood that the Messiah was about to step on the head of the serpent. At some point God was going to hold them accountable and they would face eternal judgement. (See Revelation 19-20)
Forth, it seems that this gave them some “wiggle room” to negotiate with Jesus. They entreated Him to send them into the swine. They understood both the Sovereignty of Jesus and that the kingdom of darkness still had time to be active in the world.
I often ponder why God allows the kingdom of darkness any degree of time and jurisdiction in this present world. The primary answer I keep coming back to is that “God is not done with them yet!” Like in the book of Job, God sets the parameters, but trials and testing are part of this present world. 1 Peter 1:6-9 concludes that trials refine the faith of believers like gold. What Satan means for evil, God turns to good.
Finally, from Matthew 8:28-34 we discover that Jesus had absolute authority over the demonic realm. Keep in mind, this episode unfolded before His death, burial and resurrection. If He had authority over the realm of darkness back then, it has now been multiplied many times over since His resurrection, glorification and ascension.
I personally believe God has granted Satan and His kingdom of darkness more time in this age as a training ground for His church. God wants every Christian to grow in faith and discover our authority “in Christ.” A brief survey of the book of Ephesians defends this theory. (Ephesians 1:3, 1:19-21; 3:10; 6:10-20) The balance of the New Testament adds clarity to this purpose for the church age.
The clock is ticking. Satan’s time is running out. God is not done with him yet, nor has the church fully embraced its authority and power “in Christ.” The early disciples were treated to front row seats in discovering the broad range of the authority of Jesus Christ. From this encounter they discovered that it included authority over the kingdom of darkness and the demonic realm.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global