The question of
why there are 2 possessed men in the gospel of Matthew and only 1 in Mark
and Luke has me confused. It appears to be the same incident since in
all 3 gospels they are come to Gergesenes. I'd appreciate a clarification.
Each of the Gospels was written with a different purpose in mind. It is useful to keep that fact before us when seeking to understand what the focus of each one of the Gospels is. The focus of the particular Gospel emphasis determined how much and what types of information the divinely inspired writer was lead to include.
It is also important to see that each one of the Gospels also varies in length. I would not argue that we have less information on any particular presentation of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ than we might need, though it is probably true that we have less than we might want. The more we love the Lord, the more we want to know and understand about Him.
Another thing that I think is important when it comes to getting the meat of Scripture is seeing where particular events are recorded within a Gospel. I am convinced position has significance. Some number of scholars will argue with me about that I am sure, saying that only one piece of information can be included in a particular space in a Gospel. To that I would reply, yes, and God knows exactly what should be in that place in the Holy record.
In the past I have considered the question of why there are two possessed men in Matthews Gospel and only one in the other two. One explanation, which I have considered and given some credit to in the past, is that you actually have accounts of two separate incidents. This is possible but over the years I have come to the conclusion it is not probable. The other answer has to do with the emphasis of each text and what we might learn from studying the whole of the account.
In the Matthew text, the emphasis is on the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect King who rules over all. We see not only Jesus authority over the devils but also over swine, part of the created order. No information is offered about what happens with the two men who were delivered from the bondage of demonic possession.
In Mark's Gospel, the emphasis is on the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect Servant, and the strong element we find present in the account of the demoniac is grace. Here also the second person possessed of a devil is missing. My unfortunate conclusion is that the second demoniac did not avail himself of the Lord's grace when he was delivered but returned to dwelling among the tombs. The region was well known from ancient times for its tombs, brigands, and demon possessed people. People did dwell among the tombs and a good many became possessed of evil spirits over the years including one famous author. In the Mark account the man is seen sitting clothed and in his right mind. He is given a duty of service to the Lord to perform that includes emphasis on the fact the Lord had compassion on him. (verse 5:19)
In Luke's Gospel, which is second in length after Mark, the emphasis is on the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect Man. There is however a tie between Matthew's account and Luke's which is one of position in the Gospels. I think this was done intentionally by the Holy Spirit to emphasize the Lord's perfection in all His aspects. In the Luke account we are presented with the information that he which was delivered of the legion sat at the feet of Jesus. (verse 8:35) We are also told that he told the whole city he came from what Jesus had done for him. (verse 8:39) In this passage there is a subtle reminder to us that if we walk in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ, doing what He would have us to do, we too might have authority over unclean spirits.
One final word must be said about the missing demoniac from the Gospels of Mark and Luke. The fact he is not mentioned can be seen as speaking volumes. Luke 11:24-26 deals with what happens to a man when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man and nothing, i.e. the Spirit of God, is put in its place to guard the man against becoming re-inhabited by evil beings. Could it be when the Lord was teaching on this subject the missing demoniac might have been on the disciples minds? I think he stands as a mute example. Only one had the Legion. Perhaps the other had a lesser problem. I do not know, but I think it likely. We learn more about gratitude as more is forgiven and we appreciate deliverance when the deliverance is greater. It is a failing of human kind. We would be better off if we learned to be grateful even in things we consider of less significance.
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