Tuesday, February 14th. Mark 5:1-13

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.

 

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.”

 

13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. Mark 5:1-13

 

We start with the realization that Jesus didn’t accidentally find himself in the foreign territory of the Gerasenes. Anywhere they would have landed in their storm-tossed boat on the other side of the Sea of Galilee would have been in foreign territory. He went there on purpose.

 

No sooner is he out of the boat than Jesus runs into a hard case.  This man’s mental illness, his demon possession, is written in bold colors.  Yet he is familiar to all of us.  I grew up in a small town but we still had several characters in town who were …different.  You don’t have to drive far in a large city to see such characters as well.

 

There was a time when such people would have routinely been institutionalized.  But, for better or worse, those policies changed and many people without the capacity to take care of themselves, to manage their medications, or without family to help, ended up on the streets.  We see them daily.

 

Most of the time, we look the other way.  We might feel anything between pity, compassion, fear or disgust.  We impatiently wait for the light to turn green and we leave them behind.

 

Jesus, without fear, welcomed him.

 

It surprises us every time it happens but once again, the demons recognize Jesus for who he is.  They see him coming and they know their time is short.  They have the power to ruin people’s lives but they don’t have any power at all before Jesus.  Jesus casts the demons into a local herd of pigs and the man is returned to his senses.

 

One of the coolest things we do at our church is a ministry of our youth. Our middle and high schoolers put together what they call “Grace Bags”.  They are large ziplock plastic bags filled with food, water and the sorts of things a homeless person can immediately use.  They also include a message that says, “As we drive away we will pray for you.  Please pray for us as well.”  We ask our members to ask the names of those to whom they give the bags so they can pray for them by name.  People are encouraged to keep a couple bags in their cars.  We make these bags available after every worship service.  For a suggested $5 donation the ministry is self-financing. 

 

We can’t fix people’s problems.  Only Jesus can do that.  But we can help as we can. And we believe Jesus does that through us.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, you were surprised by a broken and tormented man that day along the shore.  We pray that people who suffer like that today might find the help they need and that we all might find a way to do our part.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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7 Responses to “Tuesday, February 14th. Mark 5:1-13”

  1. Nancy Baker Says:

    The ziplock bags are a great idea. Can you be more specific about the items that you include.
    Thanks,

  2. Mary G Says:

    Yes, please, Pr. Kerry. I’d love to start this at our church too! There are 2 guys on my daily commute home & I’d love to let them know that I not only see them, but love them for themselves, no matter how broken.

  3. Dawn Says:

    Perhaps with tomorrow’s daily devotion you could let us all know what you are including in these bags. This is a marvelous idea.

  4. Mary Says:

    Fantastic yet simple idea. What a perfect thing to suggest on Valentine’s Day.

  5. Sue Bathe Says:

    We want to do this with our confirmands at Covenant. thanks Kerry! also I am not getting your devotions at home, so could you add me to your list. sue

  6. Mary Martin Says:

    What an awesome idea! I’d be interested too, in what is included in the bag.

  7. Bert Lederer Says:

    Fantastic outreach. I would like to have a few bags in my van at all times. Please let us know the contents and we’ll go to work as well as get other involved here in Bellingham, Washington!

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