With the simplicity of click, drag and drop, Jesus exorcised the demons and sent them into the herd of 2,000 pigs who immediately ran down the steep bank and drowned themselves in the sea. Upon hearing the breaking news of the miraculous healing along with the bankruptcy of the BBQ industry, the Gadarene townspeople were petrified of Jesus so they begged Him to leave their region while the formerly possessed man begged to live with Jesus.
The townspeople, having seen the power of Jesus became afraid of His authority and chose rather to be deprived of salvation than to endure any longer in His presence. They prayed for Jesus to leave because they could not live with a man who had such power. They said, “Jesus, we like you, and we would have accepted you but your authority ruins what we really care about.”
To live with a Powerful Jesus means losing control. While it is one thing to see and acknowledge His power, it is quite another thing to live with Him. When we accept the presence of Jesus, we accept the loss of control that comes with Him. We say we believe in Jesus but are we truly willing to live with Him? Are we willing to lose control and accept the unpredictable, irresistible power of Jesus in our lives?
Enjoy the poem below by Richard Wilbur based on the story of Mark 5:1-20 & Matthew 8:28-34, I think it speaks to us today.
Rabbi, we Gadarenes
Are not ascetics;
We are fond of wealth and possessions.
Love, as You call it, we obviate by means
Of the planned release of aggressions.
We have deep faith in prosperity.
Soon, it is hoped, we will reach our full potential.
In the light of our gross product,
the practice of charity Is palpably non-essential.
It is true that we go insane;
That for no good reason we are possessed by devils;
That we suffer, despite the amenities which obtain
At all but the lowest levels.
We shall not, however, resign
Our trust in the high-heaped table and the full trough.
If You cannot cure us without destroying our swine,
We had rather You shoved off.
Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of a miserable man who was kept in the tombs by a legion of unclean, demonic spirits. The spirits trapped him there to torment him continually with the spectacle of death. They cut him off from society and he lived as a dead man among the dead. The “Gardarene Demoniac,” as we’ve come to know him, had perhaps never known an experience of love, mercy or forgiveness. His memories of human touch are limited to the posses sent to hold him down in order to chain his hands and feet. Especially in the depths of the night, you could hear him wail and cry out with eerie sounds. Normalcy was a distant memory and he was equally feared by others and afraid himself as he lived a life of restless pain, agony, mental anguish.
Enter Jesus into the land of the Gadarenes, the one who has recently quieted the vicious storm, who with a word heals and restores the man. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.
When we trust Jesus, he heals the darkest troubles in the deepest recesses of our souls.
The townspeople find the man sitting, clothed and in his right mind (all new and foreign experiences for him). He no longer drives people away, he is no longer afraid and he’ll be home for dinner. His Spirit is clean, his mind is healthy and now he has a story to tell (like you have a story to tell) about how he lived in the abyss of madness and hell. He would say, “I know it’s hard to believe but I used to be the Man of the Tombs until the day I encountered the conquering love of Jesus. It’s a love that takes your sin away and leaves you seated, clothed and in your right mind.”
Though our conversions would likely be less dramatic than this, we can relate to the man of the tombs. Before we encounter Christ, there is an experience of being held captive by the devil to do his will. (cf. 2 Tim. 2:25b-26) We lived as dead men among the dead with only death and judgment to look forward to. Jesus comes to us across the abyss to our tomb of deadness so we are able to cross from death to life (John 5:24). We were dead in our transgressions and sins, without God and without hope (Eph. 2:1-10) until we encountered the conquering love of Jesus and He restored our souls.