New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
In today’s world, we use the word “crazy” to describe lots of things that fall outside the ordinary expections: crazy weather, crazy ending to a ballgame, crazy drivers on the highway, etc. But the man in this story more likely meets the legal definition of “crazy.” I think we all know folks who are mentally ill to the point of debilitating them in their life activities, so to make light of the pain that someone has who has no control over their behaviors or to their family and friends would be unwise and we may want to rethink the way we throw that word “crazy” around. Just my two cents…
But aren’t we all “possessed” by something? Are you focused on your money, your stuff, your weight, your clothes, your toys, gossip? Each of these things are just that…THINGS. These things drive the way we spend our time, talent and treasure for whatever simple reason. Either they bring us pleasure to have them or we think that we will have all we need once we get them. But they are never enough…we keep collecting the stuff or ideas and use them to fill our holes in ourselves. The man that Jesus heals in this story is certainly suffering from mental illness/demon possession or whatever. Jesus is able to remove the problem and the man is left at peace and healed from suffering with the words and touch from Jesus. He is a powerful witness to the healing of Jesus and I’m sure was a very effective evangelist in his day!
We all have our demons that get in the way of our true and deep relationship with God. What I love about the healed man in this story is that he stepped forward to Jesus. This was a man who lived his life away from society and in restraints because of his demons and he took the very brave step to walk up to Jesus and believe. We don’t live our lives physically restrained necessarily, but our own sins and distractors from our relationship with Jesus stand in our way of the greatest relationship opportunity of all. We just need to trust that Jesus can lead us closer to him with just a request from us.
What Jesus said after the demons were cast out of the man when he begged to go with Jesus is the advice we should all be following if we truly claim our gift of grace – go out and tell everyone what God has done for us. Why should we keep his love for us a secret? And dare I say that you and I may have more credibility in our communities than someone previously living in a cemetery who was the town outcast?
So make a decision to put aside the things standing in our way of our true relationship with God. Ask for help from the Father when you need it and tell the world the Good News. It’s the least we can do.
Forgiving and healing Lord, we intentionally accept your invitation to follow You and tell the world about your grace and mercy. Help us to put aside those things which stand in our way and to walk with You every day in every way. In Christ Jesus we pray. AMEN.