June 24, 2001

Luke 8:26-39

They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As [Jesus] stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. When he say Jesus he screamed and fell before him, and bellowed, "What business do you have messing with me? You're Jesus, Son of the High God, but don't give me a hard time!" (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Mob, My name is Mob," he said, because many demons afflicted him. And the begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit.

A large herd of pits was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.

Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. People went out to see what had happened. The came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.

Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave--too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back into the boat and set off. The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all overt town everything Jesus had done in him.

<The Message >


1. Again and again we see the "emptying" of Jesus. He does not use his power but can wait. Jesus had started an exorcism, but was stayed by the demons. Finally he had their number, their name. At that time the demons understood that the exorcism they dreaded could be delayed, but not escaped.

Here they request the best of a bad bargain, not to be sent to the pit but to the pigs. It turned out that was also simply a delay, not an escape. The pit of death was exactly where the pigs took the demonic mob.

I wonder why we don't laugh more in some of these scenes. Surely we would be helped if Luke had placed an emoticon :-) here.

So how have you bargained to keep your anti-social and personally compromising habits going? May you laugh as you catch on to the losing proposition it is to bargain with bad behavior. We are looking at the big picture of conversion here and the change it brings.

2. For the former demoniac the change was rapid and dramatic and appreciated. Now in his "right" mind he desired to follow the cause of this conversion from the land of the dead back to the living.

For the people of the community, they found the change to also be rapid and dramatic, but very unappreciated. Having second thoughts about the cost of guarding one crazy man and losing the economic value of a herd of pigs they asked the cause of converting change to leave.

So, how does rapid and dramatic and conversional change affect you? Do you relish it and desire more? Do you see through the first blush to see too many more changes on the horizon and turn it away?

3. Play a little with the difference in translations regarding God's actions. The NRSV has it that "God did for you" and Peterson has it that "God did in you."

Does the phrasing make a difference to you or not?

My bias is for the "in you" language. It is important to tie our experience in with God's action and not to simply report about what was done for us.

Whichever way you lean ("for" or "in") may you have a story to tell about God's goodness and your life and may you tell it.

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