HE SAILED ACROSS THE SEA OF GALILEE till he came to the eastern shore, where the steep cliffs of the Bashan Plateau drop close to the brink of the water’s edge.
Here the slopes descended so swiftly, almost into the sea that local animals already started downwards, could not avoid plunging headlong into the depths.
This was the country of the Gergesenes, where ancient catacombs peep out like dark baleful eyes from the face of the hills. It was here that he came upon the demoniac from the tombs.
Hardly had he stepped from the boat, his followers close behind, when a ragged figure came running wildly towards him from one of the tombs, waving his arms and calling out.
Hoisting his white robe commandingly around him and raising one arm authoritatively upright, Jesus said: “Halt. Stop right where you are, fellow and tell me what it is that troubles thee!”
Dropping to his knees instantly, the man began gibbering incoherently and gesturing with raised hands.
“Come out of the man, thou unclean spirits,” Jesus demanded thunderously.
“Oh, I beseech thee, lord, torment me not!”
“Speak up, then man! Get a grip on yourself! What is your name?”
“My name is Legion!”
“Which Legion? The British Legion, Foreign Legion?”
“Neither, great lord. It is Ray Legion.”
“And which Ray Legion would that be, then?”
“Jewish Orthodox, your worship. That is, till I was possessed by demons. That’s why I am called Legion, because there are so many others inside my head. My name was Hazzan before these demons invaded me!”
At this, Legion began trembling and moaning and gibbering uncontrollably, and clapping both hands to his temples, called out in a strange, strangled voice.
“Get out! Out of my head – you foul demons! Out, out, get out!”
Hands on hips, legs spread apart, Jesus stood staring at the man with a scowl darkening his bearded features. Then he shouted, “Shut up! Shut the bloody hell up,” in such a loud voice, that the man instantly stopped gibbering and looked up at Jesus in utter shock and disbelief.
“God! But you’re a bloody mess,” boomed Jesus. “And no mistake, Ray Legion. But – I’m gonna help you out. Look, I’m gonna cast your unclean spirits out, transfer them into those pigs over yonder and drown the buggers in the drink! How’s about that then – does that suit you?”
Legion nodded dazedly, lost for words and temporarily jolted into sober silence.
“And stand up, for Christ sake,” Jesus rumbled. “I’m getting a bloody crick in the neck looking down at you, you grovelling wretch. Come on.”
He held out a hand and lifted Legion to his feet with such force that he nearly catapulted him into the air.
Jesus stood there, stroking his bearded chin as he studied Legion critically.
“Hmm. We’re gonna have to get you a different outfit and convert you to Christianity, too. Can’t have all my other followers saying I’m deserting them for adherents of other creeds now, can we?”
“Uh. I – I guess not,” whimpered Legion uncertainly, adjusting his grimy rags.
“Oh, well – I suppose we’d better get the ball rolling,” said Jesus. “If we want to get shot of these damned demons of yours.”
“Eh? Legion was quite disoriented and confused by the forbidding and dominant presence of this big, self-assured man.
Suddenly Jesus loomed menacingly over him and clamping a hand palm down upon the top of his head, pushed hard, almost grinding him into the soil, while he cried out in such a loud and powerful voice that Legion almost passed out.
Then Jesus released his grip and stood back a pace, staring up at the sky, his arms outstretched, fists clenched and shaking, while he bellowed incoherently upwards like a wild beast proclaiming its territory or challenging a rival.
The sun that had been shining so brightly moments earlier now disappeared swiftly behind dark clouds that had moved rapidly in overhead.
Again, Jesus stepped forward, clapping a palm upon Legion’s head and began roaring in an awful frenzied fury, his face, horrifyingly distorted and savage, the huge black orbs of his eyes, so round and terrifyingly intense and penetrating within the swirling white oceans surrounding them.
Hearing the commotion from afar, those who were tending the swine upfield had come over to join the men gathered round Jesus and the demoniac. Pulling their robes more closely about them against the chilly breezes wafting in, they stood nearby in a stunned and spellbound silence, but soon, a low buzz of hushed comments and whispered asides rose up amongst them.
“Poor grunt! What a freakin’ state to be in!”
“That man – Jesus, they call him – he’s lapping it up, though! He’s quite an incorrigible control freak! Just listen to him!”
“He’s making some unbelievably dreadful noises!”
“And some pretty horrific grimaces and very obscene postures and gestures, too!
“It’s Just like some overly dramatic stage actor, hamming it up in the most gross manner imaginable!”
“Hmm! This Jesus fellah seems to be right in his element, wouldn’t you say? Strikes me he’s really enjoying this!”
“Tell me about it, already! I reckon he’s a bit of a dodgy freaking weirdo on the quiet, if you ask me!”
Eyes shut and seemingly unaware of what he was doing, the demoniac began screaming and wailing in a series of convulsive fits, then such an alarming stream of lurid invective suddenly poured forth from his gaping mouth that it would have made even Bernard Manning flinch.
One of the swineherds leaned forward urgently, his brow furrowed in concern.
“Hey! Are ye alright, pal? Yer makin’ a hell of a friggin’ racket!”
Eyes still shut, his body swaying to and fro; Legion began gargling and foaming at the mouth.
Within a whisker of complete oblivion, the only thing, stopping him from falling over, was the sheer power of the steadying palm that held him.
So when suddenly Jesus released his grip with a tremendous howl, Legion sank to the ground and lay there, his eyes springing open and staring dazedly up at a sky now quite clear and blue, while something like swirling wind spiralled upwards and curved over towards a distant herd of swine foraging obliviously by an olive grove.
The swineherds hurried off urgently to return to their charges, which now began to act in a most peculiar and restless manner.
“There! That’s what you might call sheer expulsive therapy,” breathed Simon.
“Ah, the persuasive powers of ritual and autosuggestion,” said Andrew. “Such wonders can they perform.”
“More like brainwashing and bullying,” said Thomas. “The poor man is likely possessed only of some natural disorder of the mind, and the wind and dust simply plays a chance trick upon the eyes.”
“Oh, you’d doubt your very own existence if it didn’t stare back at you from a mirror.”
“He raises an arguable point, though,” Thaddeus said thoughtfully.
“Do you then, all of you, doubt the validity of what you have just witnessed?” Jesus asked.
The men gathered behind Jesus shuffled their feet nervously and murmured amongst themselves.
“I know just what you’re all thinking,” said Jesus.
“Well, it isn’t too hard to guess, is it?” Judas replied.
“And you can keep your comments to yourself, Judas!” Jesus retorted. “Mark my words; I’ve got you well sussed, matey. I know exactly what your game is! Don’t think I can’t see what goes on behind those evasive eyes of yours!”
An expression of bafflement flashed across Judas’s face.
Then Jesus gave him such a penetrating, discomfiting look that a shiver rippled across his shoulders and down his spine, and a sudden spasm gripped his features with an uncontrollable outbreak of twitches and quivers.
Holding Judas’s gaze for a further long instant, Jesus nodded all-knowingly and turned away with an amused half-smile tugging his lips. Oh, the powers of intimidation and autosuggestion thought he, reflectively and fell to musing.
With a sudden jolt, Jesus broke out of a seemingly long and profound but actually very brief reverie, realizing that he was standing quite motionless, hand cupping his chin like some timeworn Greek sculpture, deep in thought.
He heard voices all around, their meaning slowly reaching him and sinking in.
“Something frightened those pigs though, Simon,” said Peter. “And I don’t think it was a sudden gust of wind, either.”
“Or kosher,” Simon replied.
“That doesn’t mean it was anything supernatural,” said Thaddeus.
“Fair enough, but it’s gotta be something pretty unusual for swine to display that sort of behaviour,” said James. “I mean, suddenly rushing off as one downslope like that and plunging into the sea far below.”
“That ain’t necessarily so,” Thomas disagreed. “Those pigs –“
“Leave it out, Thomas! Since when did you ever agree with anything?” Several voices protested from several directions in unison.
They all stared downslope towards where the calm surface of the sea reflected silvery in the sunlight, as if nothing had disturbed its tranquility mere minutes earlier. Then they turned around to face Jesus, whose black beard and bronzed skin reflected blue and amber highlights under the light of the sun.
As dawn broke the next day, Legion, appropriately attired in a brand new Christian-style outfit was sitting calmly at breakfast like any average sane man untroubled by demons, when Jesus approached him.
“There, that’s better, Legion – isn’t it, old son? Jesus said. “No more demons now. You can have your old name back, too. Hazzan, wasn’t it? We’ll have to give you a new first name, though.”
“But I rather like Ray. I don’t want to -”
“Oh, you can keep that, too. This’ll be an additional name. A Christian name, something nice and biblical would be appropriate – like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John – all of whom are scheduled to be writing gospels about me, for posterity, just like Doctor Watson did for Sherlock Holmes.”
A pained look appeared on Legion’s features. “Sherlock Holmes? He’s not one of the large gathering come to see what all the commotion was about, is he?”
Jesus waved a hand dismissively.
“No, he’s some fictional detective a couple of thousand years in the future. Yes, I can see every which way, time and space-wise. It’s one of the fringe benefits of being the Son of God.”
Jesus stroked his hawklike nose, and checking that the vicinity was clear of the host of inquisitive visitors arriving that morning, leaned forward conspiratorially.
“Except he’s actually expecting me to be crucified on the cross, can you believe? The sadistic old pervert, and to think that he’s actually my own father.”
Legion had stopped eating his breakfast and was staring at Jesus in complete wonderment.
“I’ve really got to find some way of wriggling out of that one,” said Jesus fervently. “I just don’t fancy it at all. Maybe I ought to get a contract out on Judas; he’s the bugger that’s supposed to fit me up. Eliminate him and it could just swing the balance in my favour. He’s scheduled to commit Hara-kiri after the betrayal, anyway. So!” Jesus shrugged.
Legion still sat staring at Jesus, mouth agape; food like a soggy wad of dough visible on his tongue. He resembled some goggle-eyed antique statue, frozen in mid prandial mastication.
“I mean, I love being the Messiah,” Jesus continued, “and having people in awe of the miracles I perform and all the glory and status it incurs, but as for becoming a martyr.” He spread his hands expressively and puffed his cheeks out. “Well, you can just stick it. Not my cup of tea at all.”
Legion suddenly spluttered and ejected a large bolus of his breakfast onto the grassy soil, several metres beyond the table.
“All I can say,’ Jesus concluded, “is if the human race need to see a man nailed by his hands and feet to a bloody great heavy wooden cross, with a crown of thorns rammed down over his head and a spear thrust into his side. And then have him resurrected like some bloody creepy zombie from the grave – in order to venerate him – then they’re a pretty sick bloody lot and not worth the effort.”
The Idea for the Story Line of Ray Legion is derived from: Mark 5: 1-15 Luke 8: 26-39
The locational source for the story setting of Ray Legion is taken from: The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, s.v., “Gerasenes.” Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939 – via Archeological Evidence – History & culture – HistoricJesus.com
Mark 5 New American Standard Bible ©
The Gerasene Demoniac
1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,
3 And he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.
6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 And shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.
12 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.”
13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. 14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened.
15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.
Gadarenes, Gergesenes, Gerasenes
These three names are used indiscriminately to designate the place where Jesus healed two demoniacs. Matthew 8: 28; Mark 5: 1; Luke 8: 26
The miracle referred to took place, without doubt, near the town of Gergesa, the modern Kersa, close by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and hence in the country of Gergesenes.
But as Gergesa was a small village, and little known, the evangelists, who wrote for more distant readers, spoke of the event as taking place in the country of the Gadarenes, so named from its largest city, Gadara; and this country included the country of the Gergesenes as a state includes a county.
The Gerasenes were the people of the district of which Gerasa was the capital.
This city was better known than Gadara or Gergesa; indeed in the Roman age no city of Palestine was better known. “Gerasa became one of the proudest cities of Syria.” It was situated some 30 miles southeast of Gadara, on the borders of Peraea; ‘the country beyond’ in Greek, a portion of the kingdom of Herod the Great, occupying the eastern side of the Jordan River valley about one third of the way down from the Sea of Galilee to about one third of the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; and a little north of the river Jabbok, (a tributary of the lower Jordan river).
It is now called Jerash and is a deserted ruin.
The district of the Gerasenes probably included that of the Gadarenes; so that the demoniac of Gergesa belonged to the country of the Gadarenes and also to that of the Gerasenes, as the same person may, with equal truth, be said to live in the city or the state, or in the United States. For those nearby the local name would be used; but in writing to a distant people, as the Greeks and Romans, the more comprehensive and general name would be given.
Gerasa (Gergesa): Country of the Gerasenes (Gergesenes) – from NETBible
. . . This describes the district in which Christ met and healed the demoniac from the tombs, where also took place the destruction of the swine . . .
Archeological Evidence – History & culture – HistoricJesus.com
The country of the Gerasenes (Gergesenes) was on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and must have been a locality where the steep edges of the Bashan plateau drop close upon the brink of the lake. This condition is fulfilled only by the district immediately south of Wady Semak, North of Kal ‘at el-Husn. Here, the slopes descend swiftly almost to the sea, and animals, once started on the downward run, could not avoid plunging into the depths. Many ancient tombs can be seen in the face of the hills.
“Gerasa (Gergesa) itself is probably represented by the ruins of Kurseh on the south side of Wady Semak, just where it opens on the seashore. The ruins of the town are not considerable, but there are remains of a strong wall, which probably surrounded the place. Traces of ancient buildings in the vicinity show that there was a fairly numerous population in the district.”
(The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, s.v., “Gerasenes.” Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939.)
Compiled and Edited from Online sources by Dave Draper 2013