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. 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)
This was our passage for family Bible study last night. After we had finished reading, one of my teens asked a good and obvious question: “How in the world could the people there not know that Jesus was the Son of God after that episode? Especially since the demons called Him ‘Son of God’?”
In our present age, we can oftentimes find ourselves puzzled by the seeming lack of response to Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Gospels. Imagine that happening today…..two men known for their craziness suddenly healed and in their right minds, and a herd of a few thousand pigs running over a cliff into the sea. That would not go unnoticed.
Our first explanation comes from Scripture: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Satan has been given the power to blind the minds of unbelievers. It seems that could have been part of what was going on in this account. Unbelievers minds are blinded to perceiving the truth by Satan. Their hardness of spiritual heart is seen in their reaction to the miracle. Instead of glorifying God, they were angry that their local source of income, pig farming, was now destroyed. They wanted Jesus gone.
Secondly, I have heard proposed in a sermon (I think it was MacArthur, but I cannot remember for certain, sadly), that during Christ’s time on earth there was more demonic activity than there typically is/was. The reason being, God allowed or ordained that this be the case so that Jesus could fulfill prophecy by performing His miracles during His ministry. After all, Scripture repeatedly declares that creation and everything in it and all that happens is for God’s glory alone. So that makes sense.
Sometimes the people recorded in Scripture surprise and baffle us. We think that we would know better, or do better. It is wise to keep in mind though, that we have the benefit of being post cross. We know how it turned out. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us and illuminate the Scriptures. We should also respond in thankfulness when we read of darkened hearts missing the greatest man in history. Thankful that God has had mercy in granting that our eyes have been opened and that He has given us repentance, belief, and faith.
In the end, God is sovereign over every atom and molecule in the universe. Everything has and will happen exactly as He has ordained, for His sovereign purpose and glory.