And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:34)
Yesterday’s Bible reading in Matthew 8-10 has a tremendous scene where Jesus traveled to Gadara, where there were two demon-possessed men. The men were wild, unclothed, screaming demonically and tearing apart rocks and breaking the chains the people put on them to hold them back. They did not let anyone pass that area, and they lived in the tombs. If there was ever a living monster, these two men were it. (Luke 8:26-39 holds more details than the Matthew verse).
Imagine the pain the demon-possessed men were in. Their spiritual despair, their grief, their torment. Imagine the upset they caused for the people of the region, with commerce and trade and simple passage having to be altered just to avoid them. The night-time screams, the scared children, the harm that undoubtedly had come to hapless victims who ventured too near.
In a miraculous moment, Jesus healed the men and dispatched the demons. The man was clothed and in his right mind. All the people of the area came out to see it. What did they do? Did they praise Jesus for His sovereignty over all creation, even demons? Did they congratulate and welcome the man who was now returned to human habitability? Did they fall down and worship the One who was obviously the Messiah? No. They didn’t do any of that.
They were more concerned about their money. Their pigs were dead. “Jesus, go away! You ruined our commerce!”
Avarice is a strong motivator. Don’t underestimate greed. Greed is the basis for false teachers to perpetuate lies. (2 Peter 2:32; 2 Corinthians 2:17). Loving money too much is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). How shocking and sad their greed blinded them to the wonders of God. They preferred the pigs.