Friday Morning Devotion (Of People and Pigs)

11Now in that area there was a large herd of pigs being watched. 12And it begged him, saying, “Send us into the pigs, so that we can enter them.” 13So he permitted them to do so, and the unclean spirits left the man and entered the pigs, and the herd swarmed over the cliff into the sea. There were about 2,000 of them and the drowned in the sea. 14And the people who were tending them fled and reported it in the city and in the countryside, and people came to see what had happened. 15And they came to Jesus and saw the man who had been tormented by the demons, who had been possessed by the legion, sitting healed and mentally healthy, and they were afraid. 16And those who had seen it told them what had happened to the man tormented by demons and to the pigs. 17And they began to beg him to leave their region. — Mark 5:11-17

Note: Jody is away this weekend at Rockledge UMC teaching at a women’s retreat. Please be in prayer for her and all involved in that event. – HN

This passage has always interested me, and it seems to have interested quite a number of commentators as well. Why on earth would Jesus give the demons a break? Why allow them to go somewhere they wanted to go? Why would he inflict that economic damage on the owners of the pigs?

I don’t really know all the answers here, though I can make some suggestions. Jesus knew he wasn’t giving the demons a break. He knew that these evil spirits were incapable of being anything but evil and that they would destroy their new homes. Further, this action demonstrated the destructive, even self-destructive nature of evil. Evil flaunts selfishness, but in the end the self is not made better, or happier. The self is destroyed.

But what I want to ask today is this: How much disruption of your life are you willing to tolerate so that people—your community—can be healed?

You see, whatever the reason that Jesus chose to let the demons go into the pigs, the result was that the people of the area were confronted with two things. First, there was a man whom nobody could tame, but Jesus has healed him totally. The contrast is powerful between what he was before Jesus and after Jesus. He has the perfect testimony. Before Jesus I was breaking chains off and destroying myself. Jesus came and healed me. Now I’m in my right mind, mentally healthy. Second, however, there was the absence of a couple thousand pigs.

So what would you do? People are being healed on the one hand, but your livelihood is being destroyed on the other. Don’t hedge by asking whether Jesus couldn’t do things a bit less disruptively. He could, and he did. Many times. But what this story confronts us with is healing accompanied by the disruption of our lives. Given that choice what would you do?

The Gerasenes made their choice pretty clear. Verse 17 tells us that they begged him to leave. “It’s OK that you healed this guy, but we can’t stand to lose any more pigs!” was their thought. So Jesus left, and told the healed man to bear witness.

Let’s keep the lesson basic and simple for today. How much disruption of your day are you willing to tolerate if you are called to reach out to one person with the love of God today?

Give God an honest answer, and then watch for his call.

PS: I teach on this passage on the Bible Pacesetter podcast, part 1 and part 2.

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