Gerasa: Go Away, JesusTuesday, March 6, 2012
“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. . . . Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. ” (Mark 5:15, 17).
This is the most severe case of demon possession in the Bible.
It is also one of the most amazing miracles Jesus ever performed.
It happened when Jesus visited Gerasa, in Gentile territory, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee where he met a man filled with demons. After Jesus cast out the demons, the man sat at Jesus’ feet, calm, clothed, and in his right mind. The response of the townspeople is telling: “They were afraid" (v. 15). So they begged Jesus to leave their region. Jesus left and as far as we know, he never returned.
Change bothers people, even change for the better. This explains why dysfunctional families often stay as they are. And this is why people stay in destructive relationships year after year. “At least we know what to expect,” they say.
When people looked at the man, there was no doubt that a miracle had occurred. Evidently the pigs mattered more than the man. But to Jesus the man mattered more than the pigs. They couldn’t handle the transformation. Instead of rejoicing, they were afraid. Of what? Of the man? Possibly. Of Jesus? Definitely! They were afraid of anyone with that kind of power. What will he do next? To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, Jesus is not safe, but he is good. He does not always do what we expect, but what he does is always for the best.
The people who came to investigate the miracle asked Jesus to leave because he was bad for business. They were right! When Jesus comes into your life, it will never be business as usual again.
Before his conversion,. Augustine said that he sometimes prayed, “Save me, O Lord, save me, but not now!” He is not the first or the last person to pray that way.
Lord Jesus, may we not be afraid of your power. Change us from the inside out, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Amen.