This week I want to try a little experiment with the Bible Notes by giving two alternatives on the same topic. The first option is a ‘Quick Snack’ is for those who want a short devotional reading and thought. The second option is a ‘Three Course Meal’ for those who want to take it a little further. I’d love to get some feedback from you as to whether or not this is useful and which of the two options you used this week. If it is deemed useful and preparing them works time-wise, we may use this format again.
…‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?…’ (Mark 5:7)
When Jesus first encounters the man possessed by evil-spirits (Legion), this is the greeting he gets. Even though our motivation behind asking might be different, it is a good question for us too. Make it your prayer throughout today.
Three Course Meal
Reading: Mark 5:1-20
5 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 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. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 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!’ 8 For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’
9 Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’
‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ 13 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.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Thought: When Jesus meets this wretched man, he calls out in fear – what do you want to do with me? He was scared of what Jesus might want to do to him. Why was this? Clearly he has had a tortured past, he must have had to have been to end up living in this way, isolated, in pain and self-harming. His condition meant that people feared and shunned him, and no doubt many attempts had been made to deal with this threat in the neighbourhood (think of how he might be treated today if he lived in your neighbourhood). Had Jesus come to chain him up again? To try and limit his freedom even more? To torture him?
For Jewish readers, this man’s plight was even more severe. He was living amongst Gentiles in the Decapolis. Pigs and dead bodies were considered unclean, and yet here he was living amongst both. Through this he was cut off from God and God’s people.
So what did Jesus want to do with him? Punish him? Condemn him? Threaten him? No, none of these. Jesus came to rescue him, bringing him healing and restoring him into community with God and people, asking only that he shared with them what God had graciously done for him.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus for bringing me into relationship, relationship with you and others. Help me to share this grace with others today.