Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
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28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" 30 Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine." 32 And he said to them, "Go." So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, and what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood. 9:1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
28 Καὶ ἐλθόντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ πέραν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γεργεσηνῶν ὑπήντησαν αὐτῷ δύο δαιμονιζόμενοι ἐκ τῶν μνημείων ἐξερχόμενοι, χαλεποὶ λίαν, ὥστε μὴ ἰσχύειν τινὰ παρελθεῖν διὰ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἐκείνης. 29 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔκραξαν λέγοντες· τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ; ἦλθες ὧδε πρὸ καιροῦ βασανίσαι ἡμᾶς; 30 ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη. 31 οἱ δὲ δαίμονες παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες· εἰ ἐκβάλλεις ἡμᾶς, ἐπίτρεψον ἡμῖν ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων. 32 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὑπάγετε. οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὴν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὥρμησε πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη τῶν χοίρων κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ ἀπέθανον ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν. 33 οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες ἔφυγον, καὶ ἀπελθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων. 34 καὶ ἰδοὺ πᾶσα ἡ πόλις ἐξῆλθεν εἰς συνάντησιν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν παρεκάλεσαν ὅπως μεταβῇ ἀπὸ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτῶν. 1 ΚΑΙ ἐμβὰς εἰς πλοῖον διεπέρασε καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν πόλιν.
Larger Thought Unit
Chapters 8 and 9 form a larger unit for todayís reading of the two Gadarene demoniacs and the herd of swine. The entire section has Christ encountering and ministering to those who would be considered outcasts, outsiders or Gentiles: leper, centurion, woman, the chaotic waters, Gentile demoniacs, paralytic, tax collector, woman with a flow of blood, dead girl, and a demon-possessed man.
As we saw last Sunday, the gospel teaching is to reach beyond the confines of Judaism into Gentile territory. Accordingly, Jesus is shown here to have crossed to the other side of the sea of Galilee, a symbol of the Roman/Mediterranean sea. The Gadarenes are clearly Gentiles since they raise swine, which is forbidden in the Law. Since the Old Testament teaches that the Son of God, i.e., the eschatological messiah, will subdue the nations, the Gadarenes are afraid that Jesus was about to do that. They soon discover, however, that all he wants to do is to rid them of the swine, that is, of their not abiding by Godís will, which is an impediment to their inheritance of Godís kingdom that the messiah is inaugurating (see 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5).
With the gospel message spread among the Gentiles, Jesus returns to offer this same gospel to his own in his own city (Mt 9:2-8).
David E. Garland, Reading Matthew, Crossroads Publishing Company, NY, NY, 1995; pp 91ff.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimirís Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.165-6.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimirís Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.72-3.