In the last post I posed the question “where do the demons come from?” If you just can’t wait any longer go to the end of the post and find out. If you want to take the journey with me, read ahead.
We really don’t recognize how deep are our paradigms. Our perspectives and lenses are completely transparent to our cognitive processing. No, really we don’t see the forest or the tress because we are only aware of a desert. Instead of fabulous firs and prestigious pines we see rocks and dirt and cactus and tumble weeds. Yes that is a gross over-generalization but go ahead and challenge a paradigm. Challenge something you or someone else believes because “that is just the way it is.” Sadly when it comes to the things of God, we can really miss Him looking at ink on paper. OK, with that commentary behind us how about a little more “revelation” about the “demoniac” of Gerasene?
In the last post I talked about how the demoniac and the town people were connected. The “demonic” of the man was likely due to the torment of the people. The fear of the people was founded in the redemption of the man. If he was now in his right mind maybe he would “want some payback” they think. Instead of payback, Jesus show us how when we are “healed” we can “heal” others. The demoniac goes to the people to share what Jesus had done for him all the while walking in forgiveness for them. I hope we can see this beautiful picture. Here is a man who was tormented severely and was delivered to forgive others. Here is a man who was “raised again” to forgive his tormentors. That is a really good story.
In my research I came across a similar observation:
In a talk given in January, 2004, at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., writer and theologian James Alison drew a comparison between the Gerasene demoniac and the classic ”town drunk.” Although maligned by the community, the town drunk serves the community’s interests by enabling its citizens to feel good about themselves. Citizens are able to occupy the high ground of conscience by having a scapegoat to blame, to mock, to gossip about, and, at times, even attempt to help, or at least restrain. Without their town drunk the people would lose their mutual bond based on disgust, blame, and abuse of the scapegoat. In fact, if the town drunk ever really recovered, they would feel strangely uncomfortable.
I like that picture. Sounds like co-dependency, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it resonate from within you? Can’t you feel the truth bubbling up from your innermost being? Can’t you “see” with your mind of Christ this concept of the fallen-human condition? OK, if you are still holding out for the proof (as we often do) then here you go.
The “demon” tells us…
Mark 5:9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” (ESV)
If you look up the word “Legion” and trace its etymology, you will find a circular reference. Many dictionaries define the word from this story. They will say “a legion is a group of many (soldiers) like in the story of Jesus casting out the many demons of the demoniac.” Sadly that isn’t helpful. Again our paradigms and perspectives keep us from asking the question. Well I have asked the question. Here is what I have found.
The word Legion is a Greek word from a Latin word. It is like when you say “gyros” in reference to the tasty Greek sandwich of slowly roasted, specially spiced lamb (and other meats), rolled up in a warm pita with cucumber yogurt sauce and other yummy stuff. Yeah, there is a lot behind the word “gyro” and it isn’t even an “English” word. We borrowed it instead of renaming the fabulous flavorful treat. Now I am hungry.
Legion comes from the Latin word “legio.” The Caesars would form units of “enforcers” that were composed of “specially trained” individuals from Rome and local conscripts that also receive the training. They were like the SS of Roman times. Yeah, they were tough and mean and ruthless. They were identified by a number and a region. So they would be the 5th legio of San Diego, or something like that. Still the Latin “legio” has a meaning of its own based on its origin which was…surprise…Greek. So Legion is a Greek pseudo transliteration of a Latin word that has an origin in the Greek. Here is where it gets fun. The Greek word that legio comes from (are you keeping up?) is the Greek word lego. Lego means “to speak” or “to give a speech.” Now (if I haven’t lost you) think about the “deeper meaning” of “legion.” The word legion.,in their context, would mean a force or structure that is the voice of Caesar. Caesar called himself god. So this manmade god has projected his will in the form of people to control and manipulate other people. Come on. Can you see it?
OK, one more quick Greek thing. The phrase “for we are many” doesn’t mean what you think it means or at least what you have been taught it means which has become your default understanding and therefore your paradigm through which you derive your perspective and then opinion…whew. The word translated “many” is a word that means “crowd” or “collective” or you can think of it like a group of people who congregate for a unified purpose. Here is another place where it is used in a derivative form:
Luke 4:29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (ESV)
Yep, the word “town” comes from the same word translated as “many” in the demoniac passage. oooos and aaaahhhhs please. Don’t miss the parallels of these passages. In both passages the “town people” are playing the role of the “structures that corrupt.” Jesus was going to be thrown off a cliff. The “demons” in the demoniac story get their way and find some pigs that “run off a cliff.” Jesus becomes our scapegoat to be all scapegoats. He jumps off the cliff of a cross. Also when the “evil” is “cast out” or left to its own desires, it will find a cliff to fall back into chaos. That is a fun digression.
Not only that but the phrase “we are” is the plural of the “I am” word. Oh yeah. Jesus said He was the “I am.” His identity was in His Father (just like us oh by the way). These “demons” found their identity in their collective, their legion, their structures of a fallen-man, their agreement with the god-man projection of a Caesar in the coercion of people.
OK, that is a long way around the mountain but I think it is so important that we “see” this truth.
And here it is…
Where do demons come from?
US. We create them.
Maybe you are in shock. Maybe you aren’t convinced. That is OK. We are all on our own journeys of discovery. Still if you can see the connection of the “demonic” to the fallen-human condition, then it will open some doors to healing. I’ll hit that in the next post. For now, let me leave you with an observation.
Brad Jersak tells a story about his son. One day his son, who was only nine years old at the time, comes out of “prayer time” and tells his dad “you know dad, demons are not fallen angels.” Of course Brad is surprised at such a revelation. He asks his son “who told you that?” Brad’s son says “Jesus told me.” Brad doesn’t doubt but asks “if demons are not fallen angels then where do they come from?” His son says something like this (I am working from memory here):
Dad, Jesus said demons are something that humans create. They come from the ashes of our wars, the tears of our fears and the desire to have something we can’t have. We create them and then they take on a life of their own to torment us.
Brad’s son was nine, yep nine years old. I was stunned when I heard this but it resonated loud and clear from within me.
The Bible doesn’t give a definitive answer to the question “where do demons come from?” They aren’t fallen angels. Even in Revelation the passage that is often used for proof doesn’t say that. So you are left with asking Holy Spirit for wisdom.
I believe the demons are just like what Brad’s son said. I believe they are products of our fallen-human wisdom and projections of our dysfunctions based on our lost identity. When we are operating from “hiding in the bushes” we fall into patterns that find destinations in the spirit of Cain. When we insist on fierce independence but were made for community we come together with all kinds of psychosis that eventually takes on a life of its own. Yes, real demonic powers that really hurt people and really take control of their lives.
In the next post I’ll talk about why I think this is important to understand. In the end however…..JESUS. This discussion should lead us to Jesus just like every other life discussion. Our life is found in Him. Our freedom is found in Him. Our salvation is found in Him. Our power and strength and deliverance is found in Him. And if it hasn’t hit you yet…if we have the power to create something…how easy is it to “uncreate” it? Just saying.
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