God Is Bigger Than Our Boogeyman (Matthew 8:29-25)

We are a culture that is captivated by creepy. If you look for only a few minutes at  Hollywood movies (IT, A Quiet Place, The Conjuring), you probably can see this for yourselves. If you’re my age, you may enjoy reading Creepypasta to pass your time. And this isn’t a passing fad; just look at Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. There is something in us that likes being scared, creeped out, or uncomfortable. What’s interesting is that horror stories did not begin with American culture; it didn’t even begin with any of our modern sense. Even all the way back in the Bible, we see the same fears, same thrills, same “creepypastas” that our popular culture plagues today.

Yet even in these stories, there is a twist. Let’s look at Matthew 8:28-34. There is Jesus, who has come to the country of the Gadarenes, and immediately he is confronted with men possessed by demons (8:28). Instead of Jesus fearing the demons, we see that the demons fear him: “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (8:29). This story flips the horror story narrative around because the demons themselves realize their place! They even ask Jesus to go into a herd of pigs (8:30-32).

Although these demons have terrorized the Gadarenes, we see the people’s response at the end of the story: “The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region” (8:33-34). The irony is clearly shown in their response. These herdsman, who have feared these men in the past, now flee Jesus for what he has done. Rather than running to Him as their rescuer, they fear him because of the loss of the pigs.

Even in the Gadarenes’ response, you may find yourself in the same position. So often we fear what we cannot control. You probably do not (at least I would hope) have demons tormenting your house, land, job, or wherever you may roam. Yet you face the same fear that plagued the Gadarenes. You don’t know what will happen with your job; you think your relationship has come to an end; you finally realized that you don’t have as much control over your life as you thought you did. All of us face this shocking reality, yet our response is usually to run away from Christ rather than to Him.

If we look closely at the passage, we can see the remedy that relieves our fears. When Christ commands the demons to go into the pigs (8:32), there is actually much more than we may even realize. Christ’s command alludes to his ultimate triumph over all of good and evil (Revelation 20:7-10). Although the pigs run into the ocean in the story, that event only foreshadows Christ conquering all evil and sin at the end of the age.

You may fear the unknown. You may have no idea what will happen with tomorrow. Our response is so often to run away from Christ rather than to Christ. This story helps us realizes that Christ rules over all, whether the natural world or the supernatural world. But with this rule, you may still clutch to your fears of the next day.

Jesus has conquered all our horror stories. That is not to say that we will live in sunshine and roses; rather, we can truly now that whatever happens to us happens under Jesus’ rule. You may continue to fear about tomorrow, but you can know that the God that controls demons still conquers your uncertainty. All our fear and anxieties are known and not ignored by God. If you have no idea what tomorrow will bring, know that the same God that controls demons will still control all your tomorrows.