by Jan Coles
My name is Legion. At least it used to be.
I don’t know exactly when it started, but a few years ago my wife started noticing some unsettling changes in my behavior. At first I didn’t notice anything that concerned me. A fit of bad temper here and there, but I thought it was just the stresses of life. We were raising four children. We had recently lost two babies shortly after they were born. Twin boys. And jobs were getting further and further apart. Money was getting short.
Soon, however, I started to see the changes. My outbursts of anger were getting closer together and more intense. I couldn’t help it. No matter how hard I tried, the outbursts still came. I started to get scared. We went to the healer, but nothing worked. I feared for the safety of my wife and children.
At some point I stopped caring. My wife was terrified. And with good reason. I was getting violent during my fits of rage. The men in town started stepping in. It took three of them to restrain me until I calmed down.
The fits of anger started lasting longer and longer. It wasn’t safe for me to live in town, so six men finally dragged me out to the burial tombs, my hands and feet shackled. I watched the rage consume me until I no longer recognized myself.
There was no respite from the anger now. Many times the men, with fear and trembling, shackled me, but it was no use. I had grown strong enough to break the restraints. Eventually they gave up on me, except for the occasional ones brave enough to leave food for me.
Demons. I now know that’s what it was. Demons. Thousands of them. They had taken over my mind. Now, in a twist of irony, they were trying to destroy my body. I screamed. I hit myself with large rocks. I cut myself on sharp stones.
When a man came up onto the shore from his boat, I immediately recognized him, even though I’d never met him. Driven by the demons within me, I ran to meet him. I couldn’t help but bow before him. “What do you want from me, Son of the most high God?” I screamed. “Don’t torture me. Please don’t send me away.” The man’s voice was steady and calm as he commanded the legion of demons inside me to go into a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs panicked and ran, falling into the sea and drowning while their herdsmen watched in horror and helplessness.
Immediately I returned to my right mind. Realizing I was naked, I asked for a tunic. As I put it on, I learned the man’s name: Jesus. He had come to this harbor with the sole intent of setting me free. Such amazing love.
I had been plagued by the demons for years. What little I remember from those years consumed me with sorrow. I had destroyed my family and my reputation. I had nothing to go back to. I begged Jesus to let me go with him and his companions, but he refused. I pleaded with him to take me along. “Go home to your family,” he said. “Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” I reluctantly agreed.
To my delight, my family was overjoyed to see me when I walked through the door of our home, as sane as any man. My wife had nearly given up hope that I would ever be restored to the man I had once been. My children – they had grown so much in my absence. They all gathered around me as I told them what had happened. As the news of my return spread, I told the story of God’s goodness and mercy to me again and again, not just in my town, but throughout the entire decapolis.
It’s been three years since I met Jesus. Rumors about him have circulated in our region for quite some time. Healing all kinds of diseases. Giving sight to blind men. Restoring broken bodies. I rejoiced with all the news about him. I continued to tell anyone who would listen about what the Lord had done for me. My reputation had gone before me, so people were eager to hear my story. Many of them believed after hearing how God had mercy on me.
The most recent news, however, has been disturbing. A group of high-ranking Jewish officials had convinced Pilate to put Jesus to death. How could anyone deliver such a man as Jesus to death. Especially death on a cross? How could this be? I was racked with grief for days.
But just last week, I heard that Jesus was no longer in his tomb. His followers are claiming that he had been risen back to life from the dead. This news is astounding. How can anyone go from death to life? Yet each day brings more news of people encountering the risen son of God.
The risen son of God. The risen Son of God. That must be it. I’d heard that he told his followers he would die, and then raise again three days later. Does this mean that Jesus was God in a human body? If this is really true, I need to know what all this means. There has to be more to it than what is relayed in the news we’ve heard.
With my family’s blessing, I’m on my way to Jerusalem now. I have a feeling that when I return home, I will again come back as a changed man.