Scripture text for Thursday, April 1st, 2010: Mark 5:1-5:20
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As I read the title to this passage when Pastor Dan sent it to me, I wondered if I was getting this assignment because my husband had lived on a pig farm for most of his childhood. Hmmmm…probably not.
In this story, Jesus and the disciples have just crossed the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus is immediately confronted by a demon-filled man. Now this creature was so powerfully possessed by satanic forces that no humans or shackles could subdue him, so he wandered day and night among the tombs. Imagine the fear of the people in the area, as this naked (Luke 8:27) man roamed uncontrollably while raging and mutilating himself. It is not exactly a picture of someone one might want to encounter on a visit to a loved one’s grave. When Jesus sees this deranged creature, he commands the evil spirits to leave the man. The tormented man falls at Jesus’ feet, loudly asking, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” Notice that the demons inside the man recognized who Jesus was and acknowledged His power over them! When Jesus asks what the creature’s name is, he replies, “My name is Legion.” History tells us that a legion was the largest unit of the Roman army composed of 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers. That is a lot of demons! We can easily think of some demons that are prowling our world today. These include, but are not limited to, alcoholism, drug abuse, power, pornography, jealousy, greed, and the occult. After Legion identifies himself, Jesus calls the evil spirits to leave the man, and the demons request permission to be sent into a herd of nearby pigs. When Jesus grants this, the swine rush down a hill and into a lake where they drown.
This event attracts attention from the locals. Though they see the man, now dressed and fully restored to sanity, they ask Jesus to leave. He has miraculously changed the man who was a problem to their community, yet they fear the power of the Healer. Additionally, they may be rejecting Jesus for fear He might destroy more of their pigs, and those pigs are their source of income. In their ignorance, these Gentiles are selecting money over Jesus. As Jesus prepares to sail away, the restored man begs to go with him. Unlike other times when Jesus has told those whom he had healed not to talk about it, this time Jesus tells the man to proclaim what the Lord has done for him. Off the man goes with his new God-given gift of evangelism, to begin to witness in the area of the Ten Cities.
Since I spent my career in an elementary school setting, I delighted in discovering a childhood analogy for this passage. Think about the story of Humpty Dumpty. No one could put him back together again, though many tried. Likewise, no man could heal this demon-filled man, but the power of Jesus could and did.
Heavenly Father, help us to witness to others about the miraculous power the Lord uses to free His children from the forces of evil.
Devotion prepared by Debby Smiley