June 2, 2016
28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
Are you seeing a theme developing? Yes, Jesus is demonstrating the authority of the Kingdom of God but there’s a bigger thematic assault going on here. We began chapter 8 with the leper. Next we moved to the Centurion’s servant on his deathbed. After that came Peter’ Mother-in-law’s fever. Next scores of sick and demon possessed people came for Jesus’ help. Following this was the raging life-threatening storm on the Sea of Galilee, and now we come to two demon possessed men.
What’s the common theme? Chaos. The powers of sin, death and evil align themselves to un-create Creation by unleashing the chaos of destruction. Jesus comes bringing the Kingdom of Heaven, the very authority of God, and in his wake we see the signs of the New Creation—lepers cleansed and restored to community, dead raised, demons exorcised, sickness cured, storms stilled and so on.
In today’s text, Jesus confronts demonic forces that seem to have taken over a geographical region and are working through these two very sick men to keep persons from passing through. Note how the demons want to stay in the region. While demonic powers are no match for Jesus, they are capable of working in defenseless human beings with great strategy and sophistication.
In short, Jesus is doing what he expects his Church to continue. Preaching. Teaching. Healing. Confronting the chaos of sin, death and evil with the gospel of love, life and new creation. How do I know this? Because within another chapter or so, Jesus will entrust his disciples with his authority and send them out on the same kind of missions. And all of this happened prior to the general outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. How much more should this kind of work be happening now on this side of Pentecost?
The sad question is why does it seem to happen so much less in our neighborhoods? The dynamic demonstrations of New Creation are happening in many other parts of the world, so why not here in the United States? It comes down to two possibilities in my thinking. Either 1) All this miracle business is not true or 2) We aren’t getting it.
I’m going with #2, and definitely including myself in the “we.” And you?
1. Do we believe the kind of work Jesus did while on Earth is possible for the Church today? If no, why not?
2. If we do believe it is possible, do we expect it to happen in our churches and communities and families? If no, why not?
3. Are you prepared for the hardest question of all: Is this not true or are we not getting it?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.