Meet the Man of the Tombs

Mark 5:1-15, CSB

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

“What is your name?” he asked him.

“My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region.

11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.

14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

My name was Legion. I was called that by all who knew me. But it wasn’t a pleasant name, it was a name of darkness and horror. I was possessed by demons; there were so many of them that I was given this awful name. “Legion, 6000.” So much darkness. Wonderful, isn’t it?

My days were filled with awful confusion and stark raving terror.

I ran naked among the tombs, cutting myself on the rocks. When they chained me I found a demonic, super-human strength to break their bonds and shatter the shackles. I would free myself to run wild among the caves once again. No man could tame me. I was the central force of evil in this area of the Gerasenes. I was feared by all.

I was completely insane.

I can recall little through my darkness, and I suppose that was for the best. My madness permeated everything. My life had become completely saturated with evil. What little I know I will tell you. Try to imagine the condensed insanity of a mental hospital crammed into one’s little mind.

It seems on that day I was on the Gerasenes’ “welcoming committee.” I ran to greet Jesus before he even got out of the boat. I remember falling at his feet. I knew instinctively who He was. He was Lord over my darkness. I suppose that deep down I knew that only He could free me.

The authority of Jesus enabled him to speak directly to my demons. I remember how they tried to negotiate their way out, and He calmly sent them into a herd of swine nearby. There were about 2000 pigs and my evil spirits left me and entered them. The pigs went berserk and then they destroyed themselves. They couldn’t handle all the evil that I had ‘bottled up’ inside me.

With Jesus’ firm and decisive command, the darkness immediately left me alone.

Suddenly I could no longer hear their vile words. I knew that I would no longer have to carry out the disgusting will of my demons. There were no voices in my head. I stood up as a free man for the first time in years. Jesus Christ had decisively intervened. I knew now that He was my Messiah and my deliverer! My liberator who was sent from God. Just for me.

Someone gave me a robe to cover up my nakedness. I sat at Jesus’ feet in wonder at what had just happened. It didn’t take long for the townspeople to arrive. They came and found me clothed and completely sane. I suppose it was out of fear that they asked Jesus to leave the region immediately.

I only wish they understood.

When Jesus was getting into the boat I wanted to join Him. I simply had to be close. But Jesus told me no. He told me that I needed to go home to my family, and I must tell them everything. “Tell them all of the power and mercy I have had on you.” As I watched them sail away I knew that I wanted to do what He wanted.

I would now be Jesus’ ambassador to the Ten Towns.

I explained everything that had happened to me and all that Jesus could do for them. I was now His very visible witness. I shared about the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over my incredible darkness. I was now a source of His light to my people. I had to witness.

My darkness was completely gone, and I couldn’t control my joy!

Lord Jesus, You completely rule the spiritual forces of darkness. Help me to remember this and assist me with my own dark issues. I want to be free from all that opposes You. I must tell others of what you’ve done for me. Amen.

Meet the Man Born Blind

John 9:1-7

As he was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth.

“Master,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?”

“Neither,” Jesus answered. “But to demonstrate the power of God. All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, for there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. But while I am still here in the world, I give it my light.”

Then he spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes, and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word Siloam means “Sent”). So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing!

Up to now I’ve tried to approach these posts from the first person viewpoint. I hoped to understand those who met face-to-face with Jesus. I wanted to grasp what they were seeing through their own eyes. But I intend with this post to revert back to a more traditional approach to this passage.

First, we’re introduced to a man who is blind from birth.

I can’t even imagine what that would be like (just as he probably could imagine having sight). I’ve been told that he probably didn’t have a “dream” life–that requires having seen images (a dog, a tree, a mean person) and this wasn’t available to him. He never saw the color red, or seen a mountain. (He didn’t have the circuitry.)

I suppose we can only imagine what blindness like this would be.

Somehow I’ve come to an idea that this represents fallen men–we’re spiritually blind to the workings and truths of Jesus’ Kingdom. It seems a pretty good explanation of each of us–“blind from birth.”

Secondly, notice the response of the disciples who first met this unfortunate man. They don’t see his needs, rather they want to know the theology behind this. Perhaps that’s how we respond much of the time–we don’t see the needs, we only want to know the reasons. We’re not wise or discerning enough to see what’s going on–in short we’re not equipped to love or show mercy. (We haven’t got the circuitry.)

Perhaps this is how we operate as immature Christians.

We don’t engage the need, but rather we like having great theology over understanding compassion. If we really don’t love needy people, we miss so much. We don’t ever grow up. It’s easy to philosophize–it’s hard to get down and serve and really love others.

It’s funny but Jesus declares Himself to be the light of the world while speaking to the man who is born blind.

Third, we discover the gentle mercy that Jesus has when He meets needy people. Now the Lord does accommodate His followers, but not at the expense of engaging the need of the moment. Jesus is full of compassion–most especially when He meets broken people–and as His followers, we must grasp this.

Good theology is not the primary calling of Jesus’ followers.

As I mature in Christ I’m learning (slowly) that people are His real focus. He has come, not to theologize or philosophize, but to meet needs! Sure the reasons why become clearer, but that really isn’t Jesus’ primary goal. People are, not having impeccable theology.

Classes in systematic theology are good, but soup kitchens are better.

The miracle happens, and Jesus’ love and desire to restore this man is ‘front and center.’ The Lord’s methodology is interesting. Spit and mud, wiped on the blind man’s eyes. In Genesis we discover that God made man out of dirt and dust of the ground. Perhaps what He’s doing here mirrors that work.

And it’s also important to understand that Jesus never performs the exact same healing in the exact same way. For some reason He ‘tailors’ His work to the individuals deepest need. I suppose He doesn’t want us to grab a hold of a formula, as that’s what we want to have.

The story is primarily about a blind man’s healing.

It’s not theology, and it certainly isn’t about what is proper and acceptable. We really must understand this, and we really need to understand the tremendous mercy and power of God to both heal and restore.

There’s a ton more here we can extract, but I suppose there isn’t time. This is merely my take on John 9.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.”

Luke 4:18

Image: MCCC. Text from the “Living Bible,” published by Tyndale House