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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Of Mad Men and Pigs

Healing at Gergesenes

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
Luke 8:38-39

Jesus and his disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee, and went into the region of Gergesenes. The man who approached them lived in the tombs; he was naked and possessed by demons, who called themselves Legion because there were so many of them. The man fell at Jesus feet, and the demons begged to be spared, so Jesus gave them safe exit into a nearby herd of pigs. Those pigs ran into the Sea and drowned, and the man emerged sound and sane.

So many interesting twists in this narrative from Luke, which is also recorded in Matthew and Mark. First of all, one wonders what Jesus was doing in a predominately Greek region. After all, his ministry was to the Jews, and that area, which is in present day Jordan, was clearly gentile as verified by the presence of pigs. Another interesting question—what were Jesus and his disciples doing in the tombs? Jews were never supposed to be near dead people, sick people, and most certainly not swine. Also, are we to assume that Jesus had compassion for the demons, that he granted them their wish by allowing them to leave the man rather than destroying them outright?

When the townsfolk heard about this incident with the mad man and the pigs, they came out to see what the fuss was about. They found that man, who'd previously haunted the tombs wild and naked, clean, sane, dressed and sitting at Jesus' feet. Rather than being inspired by that, instead of being amazed and grateful for that miraculous healing, they asked Jesus to leave there and go back where he came from. They were afraid of him and his powers. Think what might have happened in Gergesenes had they put their fear aside and brought Jesus into town to heal the others among them who were sick and disabled. Instead, they let fear be their guide.

As usual, Jesus went to a place he shouldn't have gone; he consorted with a person who lived at the very fringe-tip of society, which was not allowed, and he was comfortable speaking with the darkest side of humanity. He did not judge, and he did not fear; he just broke all the rules. He was the embodiment of compassion. His only instruction: “Go and tell others how much God has done for you.” That example should have resonance for us today.

                                                           In the Spirit,


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