Why did Jesus send demons into the swine?

Our Gospel reading for today is an interesting one. You know the story…

“When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?’ Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then!’ They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.”

It’s a puzzling series of events. Fr. Richard Simon of Father Simon SaysTM explained the meaning and details behind this intriguing Gospel story.

Why swine?

“Animals can actually experience demonic possession. But the reason that they went into the swine was because the swine already belonged to them. Remember, pork is not kosher. Jesus was not in the Jewish part of the Holy Land, he was in the Greek part of the Holy Land. And there were temples all over the place to the gods and pork was a very common offering to the gods. And this was a huge herd of swine—it was owned by the temples. Now St. Paul believes that they gods, they were real; they were demonic spirits! And so these demonic spirits already ‘owned’ the swine,” explained Fr. Simon.

He says that he used to feel so sorry for the swine herders who lost their swine. But the only economic loss was the loss of revenue for the temples that owned the herd.

So why did they run into the sea?

Fr. Simon says, “They went nuts! Demons destroy life—it’s what they do. They hate life in all its forms, especially children, and they love to cause hurt. And Jesus wouldn’t let them hurt the person they were afflicting so they afflicted the swine. The demons, in their rage, killed the swine as they had been trying to kill that man.”

The motivation of demons—causing pain, destruction, chaos—might be difficult to wrap your mind around. Fr. Simon recommends reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for a comedic and profound insight into the reality of hell.

Hear more bible study on Father Simon Says, weekdays at 1pm CT only on Relevant Radio.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.