Similar accounts are not identical, and although some try to make like situations one and the same, honest Biblical interpretation allows the Scriptures to stand on their own, without forcing two separate and distinct events to be one occurrence. Discrepancies, so-called, are manufactured. The Bible is inerrant and apparent contradictions are usually not difficult to explain. Similar events happen regularly in life, which does not make them identical. Logically, many people suffer from similar diseases, and it should not seem unreasonable that Jesus healed many people suffering from like maladies. The details of the Matthew miracle considered here differ from the Mark and Luke accounts, because the persons and circumstances were different.
In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus and His disciples went across the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gergesenes. Jesus was met by two men and the Scriptures clearly state that they both were possessed by demons. They lived in a graveyard of sorts, among the tombs, and they acted like wild beasts, “exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.” Both cried out when they saw Jesus, and acknowledged Him as the Son of God. The spirits spoke through the men and begged Jesus that if He cast them out they could enter the herd of pigs feeding nearby. Jesus simply said, “Go,” and the whole herd of swine ran down into the sea and drowned. The keepers of the pigs panicked and went into the city and told people of the incident, including what had happened to the two men. Many people came out to where Jesus was and demanded that He leave their region. The Matthew account abruptly ends at that point.
Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:27-39 give details about a similar incident, but these accounts speak of only one man. In the country of the Gadarenes, as soon as Jesus got out of the boat, “immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Jesus immediately commanded, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” The controlling spirit in the man said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” Then Jesus asked, “What is your name?” The spirit in the man answered, “My name is Legion…” because many spirits had entered him.
All the spirits begged Jesus to let them go into the swine nearby, similar to the Matthew record. Mark writes that there were about two thousand pigs. Jesus “gave them permission.” The spirits entered the pigs and the pigs ran down into the sea and drowned. After the feeders told others about the incident, many people came to see for themselves. “Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.” The man who received such great deliverance pleaded with Jesus that he might go with Him, but Jesus told the man to “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” So the man went and shared with others what Jesus had done for him, and people were amazed.
Jesus was not intimidated by a man or men acting like animals, because He knew they were victims of a cruel and impersonal evil spiritual influence. Jesus knew He was sent “…to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18) and forgave the fear and ignorance on the part of the people who didn’t understand the power or love of God. Jesus accommodated the townspeople and departed their country, and continued “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil…” (Acts 10:38)