Mark 5:1-20 - A man With a Demon

Mark 5:1-13 - Imagine the scene. The boat hits the beach, Jesus steps out and then there's this guy, scarred from cutting himself with rocks and filthy, from living underground. He's clearly mad (crazy), and he's big. Not Fat Albert or Santa big, more like The Incredible Hulk big. I mean no one can bind him and he's wrenching chains apart. This is no frail homeless guy, he's a buff madman.

Not only that, but Jesus is engaging him. He sees Jesus and comes at him, Jesus is shouting at him "Come out!" and he's demanding of Jesus "What have you to do with me ..." and he already knows that Jesus is the Son of God, something you've only begun to figure out. It's a bit of a chaotic scene.

If you were with Jesus, what would you be thinking? I'd be thinking that I want to stay on the boat for now, thank you. Maybe you've heard of this mysterious madman, tales from across the sea. Legends that you weren't sure were true, but here he is now. And you likely wish he wasn't.

But Jesus isn't hoping he'll go away, he's engaging him in conversation. Asking his name. The man's clearly possessed, and dangerous. Then Jesus shows two remarkable acts of compassion in one gesture - he sends the demons away from him and grants their wish to go into a nearby pig heard. Did you ever wonder about that? Why did Jesus care what the demons wanted?

Another thing you might notice. No one could control the demons in this man's head, not even the man himself. But when Jesus arrived, the order of authority is clear. They submitted to Him. Period. They asked - and received - a favor, but it was clear that if He did not wish to grant it, they would obey. This brings to mind Romans 8. This is the God who is for us. Complete authority, nothing can stand to his will.

And he stands for us.

So why, then, do I fear confronting my own demons? Why do I let them torment me? Why do I wring my hands, wondering if I can overcome?

Mark 6:14-20 - Now you're in the crowd of locals, running to the news that this wacko had been cured. And there he is, "the one who had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind." This man had likely scared the willies out of you, and he's sitting there chatting with this stranger who had evidently cured him. On one had, you might rejoice that this menace was gone from your town. On the other, a man with power over that which you were powerless is scary indeed.

Now imagine you are the man who was cured. For years, running wild, not able to talk or be with anyone. People run from you and you wish you could run from yourself, unable to control this frenzy living inside you.

Have you ever wished, hoped against hope, that you could be different. Not richer or prettier, but truly, deep down in the depths of your soul different. no longer the man plagued by lusts, the woman tormented by lies, no longer given to anger, drinking, violence or ... I have.

This man lived it every day and now it was true. He was rid of that which had controlled and tormented him. It was completely understandable that he would want to go away with Jesus, there was nothing there for him. He had likely hurt anyone who was ever close to him.

But Jesus says no, he has a differnt mission for him. Go back to the nearby owns, the towns of people who tried to tie you up, the people you frightened. Go there and tell them what God has done for you.

And here's the remarkable thing - he goes. I wonder, would I go? I'd be tempted to go back to the caves, to the familiar.

So I also wonder, what mission has God given me now that I'm avoiding for the safety of the familiar?

I love this story. Check out this dramatized version from Real Live Preacher (not for folks who are offended by fishermen disciples who occasionally swear like, well, fishermen).

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