The Tomb Monster
We’ve all seen horror movies where the monster suddenly appears, screaming. It’s the adrenaline rush that makes us pay the price to sit in the dark and get scared to death. Now it’s one thing to confront the boogeyman on the big screen. It’s another thing when the boogeyman suddenly appears in real life.
Jesus told his disciples they were going to the other side, and even though he had to calm the storm, they landed safe on shore. But immediately they faced a new danger. Powerful, crazy, demon-possessed. As Jesus stepped out of the boat, he faced our worst nightmare.
“They came to the other side of the Sea of Galilee into the region of Gerasa. As Jesus was getting out of the boat, immediately from out of the tombs a man with an impure spirit met him. His home was the tombs and neither chains or anyone was able to keep him bound. Repeatedly, when he was shackled and chained, he tore away the shackles and chains, smashing them. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Throughout the nights and the days in the tombs and in the mountains he was shouting and cutting himself with stones.
Now when he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. Shouting out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What is it between me and you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God, not to torment me.’ For Jesus was saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you impure spirit!’ And Jesus asked, ‘What’s your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion, for we are many.’ And he begged him intensely not to send them out of the area.
Now there was a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside, and they begged him, ‘Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them.’ So Jesus allowed them and the impure spirits entered into the pigs and the herd rushed down a steep slope into the Sea. There were about two thousand and they drowned in the Sea.
The herdsmen fled and told in the town and around the countryside what had happened. They all came to see what the herdsmen were reporting. When they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting, clothed, and in his right mind and what had happened to the pigs, they became frightened. Those who had seen it firsthand described what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And those who had come to check out the report began to strongly urge Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged to go with him, but Jesus didn’t allow him to come. Instead, he said to him, ’Go back to your home to your friends and report to them what the Lord has done and how he has shown you mercy.’ So he went and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone was astonished.” Mark 5: 1-20
It’s Mark’s fullest account of one of Jesus’ exorcisms and it’s the strange twist at the end that gets me. A madman has been terrorizing the countryside. Night after night children can hear this powerful demon-possessed man crying out in the tombs and the mountains. When the boogeyman is calmed, I expect the residents of the area to be like the Samaritans in John 4 and invite Jesus to stay with them. Instead, they beg him to leave.
Remember the parable of the sower? There will be hard ground, but in this case Jesus didn’t leave them alone in their fear and rejection. He sent the now peaceful, mercy-filled, former boogeyman back home to share what had happened to him when he met Jesus. I need to learn from his example. Even those who live close to me might listen when I share what the Lord has done for me and how much mercy he has shown.
LORD, help me to keep sharing concrete examples of how you are setting me free and displaying your merciful forgiveness in my life. I pray for those who experienced the Easter holiday with us to see evidence that Jesus is alive in our lives.
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