Mark 5 don’t mess with my status quo
Mark chapter 5 tells a story of Jesus encountering a demon possessed man. The story is also told in Matthew 8 and Luke 8.
“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”
Mark 5:1-17 NIV
The part of the story that stuck out to me this morning is when (if I could i would italicize the word “when” for emphasis) the townspeople got scared.
They lived on an area where There was a man who should have been terrifying. who lived in tombs. He wandered around naked. He couldn’t be controlled or confined. He howled at anyone who passed by. This did not scare them.
However when this same man encountered Jesus, was set free from a legion of demons was then dressed and in his right mind, then they got scared and asked Jesus to leave.
The fact that a herd of pigs were floating in the lake dead may have had something to do with it but the text doesn’t explicitly say that. It says when they saw the town terror “clothed and in his right mind” they were afraid.
Does change scare you? It scares me sometimes. I work in a job that uses computers and software and it is difficult to keep up with version updates and with advances in technology. We are in a building project and we are going to be using a new communication protocol. I struggled to learn the last one and now there’s another one to learn. Change is hard. Keeping up with change can be harder still. But something tells me this type of change wasn’t what scared these folks.
This situation makes me think of those hoarding shows that were popular in the US a few years ago. A person would have hordes of accumulated things. Most often it was anything and everything. The hoarder would be confronted by a family member or a city official to remove some or all of the stuff that they had accumulated. Some of these folks accumulated so much stuff that their lives were miserable. Safety was gone, sanitation was gone, sometimes it seemed even sanity was gone. People who specialized in removing hoards were brought in but the hoarders would sometimes violently oppose removal of the hoarded things, the things that were endangering their very lives. The hoarder had become accustomed to their status quo and changing it meant upsetting the status quo. It was unbearable to some of those lives that were shown us on TV. They would rather die by the hoard than go through the pain of seeing change come into their life.
It could be this type of fear of change that made the villagers chase Jesus away. We get connected to the world around us and cannot imagine a world without the hoard of our life in our future. This man had collected a hoard of demons and the town was willing to put up with them rather than change.
Maybe they saw what change would come to their own hoard of demons.
I had an event in my life at 8 years old when a big change came, and I was just a passenger in the way it was handled. I believe those around me did their best, they saved my life. I had been burned on my face and right hand. Most of the burns were severe, 2nd and 3rd degree burns. I remember them working on my right hand. A nurse held it out in front of me and the doctor slid the skin off like it was a loose rubber glove and then dropped it in the trash can. I remember thinking “aren’t I going to be needing that later?”
The truth is that skin was dead and if they had left in on my body it would’ve rotted, caused an infection and probably cost me my hand or even my life. I needed that change. What I didn’t need was that old dead skin.
The demoniac man needed to be rid of the demons tormenting him. Jesus slid them off and tossed them in the trash. By God’s Grace and through his mercy He was healed by the power and authority of Jesus.
Hoarders of trash or treasure or demonic hoards can get used to the mess and fear change. Those around them also fear change. When Jesus comes into a life, messes begin to get cleaned and organized. The stuff that’s dangerous and/or poisonous he will remove. What if it’s a pet sin, one we like to bring out and play with occasionally, or a pet grievance or a painful wound we don’t want to heal so instead of allowing Jesus’ healing touch we wrap in putrid rags of unforgiveness? Do we have to give all of our precious goodies to him to just toss into the lake, (or the trash)?
If Jesus shows up in lives of people around us and all hell breaks loose and runs off a cliff and gets destroyed and the people who have been entertained with their previous wild freedom (which was actually enslavement) begin to be clothed and set right mentally and spiritually, let’s not get freaked out and chase Jesus away. Let’s get excited and invite him home to our hoard and have the cleansing process begin in our lives.
Part of this change is who is the boss of me. If I let Demons have their way in my life or harbor hatred and unforgiveness or lust or slander or greed or any other unclean, unwholesome attitude or behavior, then I am enslaved to that and it all ends in a miserable death. If this is my condition, the condition of the man who was home to a legion of demons, then I am a slave to a master who hates me. But if I let Jesus in, He loves me, He wants what is best for me and He has the power to finish what he starts. He, in fact has power over sin and death because he beat them both by dying on the cross and rising again 3 days later.
The Gospel of John tells us what Jesus’ intentions are with us.
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
In those hoarding shows, the owner of the hoard was in charge of the cleaning process. If the hoarder said stop, the process stopped. Sometimes it would resume once the hoarder was able to see the benefit of the change.
I have a hoard of junk, both in my garage and in my heart. I am sick of it and I love it at the same time. I am going to be bold and invite Jesus into my world, all of my world, and ask him to help me, to purge me and to not stop or leave until the job is done. Anyone else want to join us?