A Matthew 8:28-34 Commentary: Jesus Casting Out Demons

The Gospels are full of great stories about the wonderful things that Jesus did. Throughout the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see Jesus traveling across the region performing some amazing miracles and preaching about God’s word. Some miracles and sermons can be easy to understand but others are not so simple. One story that might require some additional explanation is Jesus restoring two-demon-possessed men in the book of Matthew. That is why this article will be a Matthew 8:28-34 commentary. 

The Context Behind Matthew 8:28-34

In Matthew chapter 8, Jesus is actively doing ministry. Jesus has already received the power of the Holy Spirit through baptism. The Holy Spirit empowers him to do amazing things, like perform miracles. We see that through this chapter Jesus is doing miracles, and he is preaching to people. A clear theme that is present through this portion of the Gospel is that Jesus is associated with unclean people. 

In each of the stories presented in Matthew 8, Jesus Christ interacts with people who do not have status. This plays into the story communicated in verses 28-34 as well. 

A few stories within Matthew 8 are worth noting before we discuss the importance of verses 28-34. 

Jesus Heals the Man With Leprosy

In verses 1-4 of Matthew 8, we see that Jesus heals a man with leprosy, and in doing so, Jesus goes against the status quo. People with leprosy we considered unclean people, who should not be interacted with. 

Jesus is standing with the man with leprosy by caring for him, even though everyone would have written the man off. 

This is the first example of Jesus caring for someone who was considered unclean in Matthew 8. 

Jesus Heals The Centurions Servant

Following the story of Jesus healing the man with leprosy, Jesus went to Capernaum where he met a Roman Centurion. Roman Centurions were Roman soldiers and commanders who had authority in the Roman military, however, they were not Jewish. 

The Roman Centurion approached Jesus and asked for Jesus to heal his servant who was at the Centurion’s house. Jesus saw the centurion’s faith, so he told him that his servant was healed.

This is another example of Jesus interacting with someone who was considered unclean because the Roman Centurion was not Jewish. Only Jews were considered worthy of a relationship with God at this time, so Jesus interacting with this many was a big deal. 

Jesus Healed Many

Following Jesus’ interaction with the Roman soldier, Jesus went to Peter’s house. In Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed. Jesus healed her, and after that, many demon-possessed people were brought to the house for Jesus to heal.

Jesus continued to do miracles and cast out demons in the house. Another example of Jesus caring for unclean people.

Jesus Calms the Storm 

In the final story before verses 28 to 34, we see Jesus demonstrate his authority over nature. In all the stories prior, we saw Jesus healing physical illness and casting out spiritual illness, but at this point, we see Jesus show his authority over nature. 

Jesus and his disciples were on a boat that night, and a storm started. They are on the Sea of Galilee, which is known for its sudden and violent storms. Jesus was asleep while the storm was going on, but the disciples got worried. They woke Jesus up, and Jesus made the storm stop. 

This is another miraculous moment within Matthew 8 that demonstrates Jesus’ power in all things. 

Commentary on Matthew 8:28-34

Verse 28

“28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”

In verse 28, Jesus is continuing his travels. He was previously on the boat, but now he has arrived in a new place, the country of the Gadarenes.The country of the Gadarenes was a gentile territory, which meant that Jesus was actively going towards the gentile community.  While he is in this new region, he comes across two demon-possessed men. 

These men have been residing in tombs. The idea that Jesus was caring for unclean people throughout this chapter continues here. According to Mosaic Law, dead people are unclean, therefore these men hanging around in tombs would mean that they would be unclean also. 

Furthermore, we see that these men are acting rapidly, and they are causing great fear in anyone who passes by them. Demon possession was causing these men to be aggressive, so no one could cross their path. We see that their mental illness has caused them to act wildly. The spiritual sickness is affecting their interactions with other people. 

When people are not spiritually well, it can harm their relationships with people. Although a mental struggle might not mean that you try to physically harm someone, in the event of spiritual torment, it can be difficult to treat people properly. 

Verse 29

“29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

After coming upon the demon-possessed men, the demons inside the mean call to Lord Jesus and ask for Him not to interfere with them. 

It is important to note that the evil forces immediately recognized the ordination of Jesus, and they called Him the son of God. The idea that demons are aware of God and His activity is echoed in James 2:19. It says, “19 You believe there is one God. That is good! But even the demons believe that, and because they do, they shake” 

The demons are subordinate to God, and they know it. They are aware in this passage that Jesus has the authority to torment them. It should serve as a reminder to Christians that Jesus Christ is the one with the authority. We do not have to be afraid of the spiritual realm, because Jesus is greater than any other spiritual force. 

Beyond knowing that Jesus is the spiritual authority, the demons are also aware that in the end, they will lose. They mention that the Son of God is arriving not to torment them for eternity at this moment, but they know that the time will come when they have final judgment. 

Verse 30-31

“30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

In verses 30-31, Jesus continues to converse with the evil spirits. The evil spirits recognize that there is a herd of pigs on the hill they are on. Pigs were considered unclean animals in ancient times, so it would not have been a luxury for these demons to be inside a herd of many pigs. 

The demons beg Jesus to cast them into the pigs. They had to ask Jesus for permission to go into the pigs, so we can conclude that the demons again recognized the authority of Jesus. All spiritual things have to bow to the authority of Jesus. 

Verse 32

“32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.”

The authority of Jesus had already been demonstrated, that the demons noticed Jesus, but here we see the power of Jesus on full display. He can speak to the demons and they have to leave. 

In verse 32, the demons are granted the request to go into the pigs. As soon as the demons enter the pigs, they do something to cause the pigs harm. The intentions of the demons are made clear in this passage. They want to cause harm to the things that God created.

They wanted to cause harm to the men they possessed, and they wanted to cause harm to the pigs that they were in. It is a reminder to us that evil spirits want to harm the things that God has created. 

 In the men, the demons wanted to isolate them and force them to harm other people. They were aggressive and were not letting people pass in that area. The demons sought to harm the men and the people around the men. 

Verse 33-34

“33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town, and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.”

The people who were tending to the pigs went and reported to the town what had happened. A person might think that the person tending to the pigs might be excited to share the good thing that Jesus had done, but clearly, the person was not pleased about what happened to their pigs. 

The person tending to the pigs was upset that they had lost their pigs, so they got the whole city mad at Jesus for what he had done. The people of the city were more concerned with the pigs than with the people that Jesus had saved from torment. 

This is a glimpse into human nature. We are not in the right mind when we focus on the things we have more than the people God has placed around us. Jesus cared more about the people than the pigs, because they were made in the image of God. It should stand as a reminder to us that no matter what we have, people should come before it. 

Some Final Notes

The story of Jesus freeing the demon-possessed men is also present in the Good News of Luke. The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are known for having many of the same stories. Luke 8 records this story, however, it is just one demon-possessed man in that story. The reasoning for this is that there was probably one man who was crazier than the other, so Luke only mentioned one. 

1 thought on “A Matthew 8:28-34 Commentary: Jesus Casting Out Demons”

  1. Pingback: An Acts 20:7-12 Commentary: Eutychus Resurrected

Comments are closed.