(15) And they came to Jesus and saw the demonized man, who had had the legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. (16) And those who had seen what had happened to the demonized man and about the pigs told them all about it. (17) And the started to beg him to leave that area. — Mark 5:15-17
There are quite a few instances in the book of Mark when Jesus is helping someone, and some people around complain instead of rejoicing. We saw it with the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12. In Mark 5 there are a number of such instances. Our text tells of the people in the region of the Gerasenes who witness a spectacular miracleâ€”the healing of a possessed man whom nobody before had been able to control.
Many readers automatically assume that the reason they wanted Jesus to leave was the pigs. I must admit that I’ve always wondered about those pigs and why Jesus allowed the demons to go into them. There are various explanations, but none so far completely satisfy me. It’s natural for people to assume that the reason these folks wanted Jesus to leave was that they had lost money in the form of their pigs.
But notice in verse 15 just when they become afraid. It’s when they see the demonized man clothed, peaceful, and mentally healthy. It’s the authority that Jesus has that frightens them. They become afraid when they witness a healing. So they send the healer away because of their fear.
Further on in the chapter, Jesus is going to the house of Jairus, and a woman touches his garment. Jesus knows what has happened and he has something to say to the woman. The disciples think he’s wasting his time, but he stops, finds the woman, and speaks to her.
When he continues to Jairus’s house, he is again interrupted as people inform him that Jairus’s daughter has died. But even this doesn’t distract him from his mission. He keeps going forward. The folks at the house laugh at him. It’s time to get on with mourning. Nobody comes back from the dead, and this girl is dead. They know precisely how things work. But Jesus just moves forward and calls the girl back.
Throughout chapter 5 of Mark the people around Jesus are continually trying to turn Jesus aside from his ministry. Perhaps I shouldn’t say â€œtrying,â€ but their actions would pull Jesus away from the people he wants to serve if he let that happen.
The question for each of us is this: Can we see the mission Jesus is on and go along with him?
It’s easy to get distracted. It might be fear, as it was with the Gerasenes. Their fear resulted in Jesus leaving. How many sick people in that area never had a chance to receive his healing touch?
For the disciples it was â€œthe program.â€ Jesus must not get distracted. But for Jesus the woman who touched his garment wasn’t a distraction; she was the mission.
When a little girl was reported dead, the distraction was simply the way things are. She has died, and that’s the end of the trail. Don’t keep trying to heal, Jesus. It’s already too late.
But for Jesus there’s one priority: The people he can save. He’s never lacking time, and he never shows up too late.
I ask myself this: How does my agenda compare to his?