The family and I were reading Mark 5:1-20 this morning. This is the story of the man near the Gerasenes who had a legion of demons in him. We’ve read this story a million times.
In it, the man can not be kept chained, even. The power of the demons within is simply too much to be held back by metal chains. The guy kept breaking them. No one could subdue him. But what struck my wife for the first time was that the guy would hang out in the tombs and mountains, cry out, and cut himself. This guy would take stones and cut himself. Ever known a cutter? I have. Been there, done that. I’m convinced people who harm themselves are affected by demons.
What struck me was that there were 2,000 PIGS. These things are stinky. slobbery, yucky, and many of them huge. So, anyway, Jesus had said to the demons called legion to come out of the man. They asked to go into the pigs, as they did not want to leave the area (I suppose Decapolis was ripe pickings for their kind). Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Note: Jesus GAVE PERMISSION. Get this, He was speaking with the man, and the demons, and the demons had to have permission to enter the pigs. HE gave it, and they did. But I dont think what the demons had expected to happen did, as the pigs then jumped into the sea and drowned. Now, for those of you who don’t know, pigs can swim. So this was something weird.
Why did the pigs drown? We have some choices here as to why they died: 1) Jesus killed the pigs, 2) the pigs committed suicide, 3) the demons killed the pigs, 4) some combination of the first three. Scripture does not tell us why, but we can see what happened and try to reason it out – recognizing its guesswork.
Now, obviosuly the pigs weren’t very depressed before the demons entered, as they were busy being pig-like, before then, doing what ever it is pigs in a group of 2,000 do. SoI find it unlikely that the pigs wanted to die before then. And its unlikely the demons wanted the pigs to die, as it would have been pointless to ask to go into them and then cause them die since they had begged to not be sent out of the region. And we have no signs that Jesus hated pigs, as He has no history of killing anyone (although He DID do a number on a fig tree once).
No, I think what happened is that Jesus wanted to heal the man, free him from his demons (like many of US need to be freed). I also think the demons did not want to leave the area and asked to be allowed to go into the pigs. I think pigs are different enough from men that when the demons went into them, they did not have full control, and the pigs knew something was up and were spooked. They were so panicked that they ran off a steep enbankment and into the sea and were not able to think clearly enough to swim, and so drowned.
There’s a couple things to note here:
1) Demons have to have permission to enter pigs, so its probably true that they need permission to enter us.
2) When demons enter new ‘homes’, there are immediate changes that are not pretty and may be dangerous.
Anyway, back to the story. The pigs were not wild, as they had herdmen doing what herdsmen do, herding - in this case the pigs. These herdmens “fled”. Sounds like they took off a-skeered (which means scared, for those of you who do not speak southern USA dialect). They went and told folks what had happend. Those folks came to see. They SAW the work of GOD, in that the formerly demon possessed man was sitting in his right mind (not left), fully clothed in front of Jesus. Instead of being happy or grateful for the man being healed, they were afraid. They begged Jesus to leave. Rather than praising God, they wanted him to leave. Sound familiar? Often when people are confronted with God in the presence of a human who loves and obeys God, they feel uncomfortable and want that person to leave.
And Jesus DID leave. But before He did, the man begged to be allowed to go with Jesus. We all want to be with God when we first come to know Him – if our belief is real, if we understand who God is and what He has done. But just as the man was told no, so too are most of us. We have to live our lives, trusting in Christ.
And just like what Jesus told the man in Mark 5 to tell his friends how much the Lord has done for him and has had mercy on him, we too are told the same. We are to speak about what God has done in our lives, how He is merciful. This is what evangelism is – talking about God in our lives and how He has worked in our lives and what He WILL do.
And the man did just that! He went to Decapolis and talked about what Jesus had done for him. And everyone marveled. This is how we share Jesus – talking about what HE has done.
So, anyway. The title of this blog is about the modus of operandi of Jesus. Lets summarize to help you see it clearly:
One person was touched by Jesus. One person. God goes where He is needed. One person needed Him, so Jesus went for the one lost sheep. Jesus enters an area. He notices someone who needs Him. Demons might be a symptom or a cause of the obvious problem. Jesus deals with what needs to be dealt with. People will react in a couple of ways: grateful (like the man who was healed), or wanting nothing to do with Jesus (like the people from Decapolis). Jesus does not force Himself on people – they wanted Him gone, so He left. But before He left, He charged the man who had been touched by Jesus in his life to share with others how God had been merciful and what God had done in his life. And the man obeyed, resulting in people marveling.
This is how Jesus worked in my life. He saw a need. He addressed it (maybe not in how I expected or would have preferred). I wanted more of Jesus. He told me to share what God had done for me and how merciful He had been. This is how Jesus works in all of us.
Do YOU evangelize by telling people what God has done for you?