Wednesday, February 15th. Mark 5:14-20

14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. Mark 5:14-20

 

We immediately notice two things about this story that surprise us.  First, when the locals come out to see the formerly possessed man “clothed and in his right mind” they are afraid and they “beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood.”

 

And second, while Jesus had been careful to tell those cured on the other side of the lake not to say anything to anyone, here he encourages the man to go home and tell his friends what the Lord has done for him.

 

At first glance it seems strange that the locals would react to Jesus with fear.  Unless you were the owner of the herd of pigs that had all drowned in the lake.  His pigs had been more carefully guarded, watched and tended to than the possessed man had been.  He had suffered a loss of stuff that seemed more significant than a stranger regaining his life.

 

Weird, isn’t it, how our priorities look when seen from a different point of view?

 

And to those who believe Jesus told the crowds in Galilee not to say anything for fear that there would be an effort launched to make Jesus king, here in the land of the Gerasenes there would be no such danger.  So Jesus encourages the man to freely tell his story.

 

That could be the reason…or it could simply be that Jesus left a missionary behind in a land he would only visit.  Soon he would travel back across the lake to his own land and his own people where he would continue what he had been called to do.

 

This whole story opens our eyes to the reality that, with God, nothing is impossible.  Jesus can do amazing things, from stilling storms to restoring life.  Yet our response to what Jesus can do will vary.  We can be amazed or we can be terrified.  We can respond from a place of faith or a place of fear.

 

And often, like the disciples who aren’t mentioned in this story, it can feel like we are just along for the ride.  We never know what to expect next.  But we follow with the awareness that God can do much more than we imagine, in corners of life we fear to tread, among people we have long since written off as hopeless.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, we wonder at this story of a man restored, of people asking you to leave their neighborhood, at a new witness to your healing love released to tell the story among his friends.  We pray that you continue to bring hope to the hopeless, life to the lifeless and welcome to the stranger.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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