After the storm on the lake, their boat has been driven almost from the northern shore to the southern end of the sea of Galilee.
They land in the country known as Decapolis, or region of ten cities, of which one of the chief was Gadara. Some little distance from this city — then splendid in its fine, pillared streets, amphitheatres and baths — were a number of tombs cut in the soft limestone rocks.
In these tombs lived two mad men, fierce and dangerous. So troublesome and threatening to the peace of the neighbourhood were they that they had bound them with chins. But the strength of the insane is often very great, and these had broken off their chains, and roamed naked from tomb to tomb, more like animals than humans, cutting themselves against the rocks and crying out.
When these saw Jesus they came running to meet him. The whole countryside had heard of him, and among them these insane men. When they draw near Jesus commands that their disease should be healed, but they, in their madness, fear that he is visiting them with punishment and torment, and one cries out in his terror, very much as did the mad man in the synagogue at Capernaum.
Upon Jesus asking his name, this one showed the form of his madness. He supposed himself to be many persons. He then besought Jesus that he would send his madness into a great herd of swine which were feeding some distance away.
With this request Jesus complies, for a very good reason. He cures the insanity of the man, and he punishes the disobedience to the Law of Moses shown by the keeping of pigs – an unclean animal – by causing them to be so filled with madness and panic, that they stamped violently down a steep place into the sea and perish in the waters.
Now those who kept the swine fled, and told in the city the things that had happened. The inhabitants, coming out to see for themselves, find the two who had been insane, sitting with Jesus, “clothed, and in their right mind.”
“And they were afraid, and they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”
Such is man’s gratitude and thankfulness for the presence of the Son of God! But Jesus complies with their request and makes his way to the shore, and he alone who had been possessed with madness asks that he may follow him. However, Jesus will not allow him, but says to him:
“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”
Nor was the man slothful in publishing it abroad. He told it in all the region of Decapolis, and all did marvel.
Excerpt from The Life of Jesus Christ by W.R. MItchell