2021_05_10 Insight Post- Kim Feld
This week's reading- Mark 5-6
The intensity of Mark builds as we step into chapter 5. At the end of chapter 4, Jesus wraps up teaching and directs the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side of the lake. Jesus doesn’t give any recorded explanation for this trip. He falls asleep in the boat, my guess is from pure exhaustion, and a storm comes up. The frantic disciples wake Jesus, and He commands the wind and waves to still in a dramatic display of His power over nature. Mark tells us that other boats were with them, so not only do the disciples witness this miracle, but those in the other boats do as well.
The boats land on the other side of the lake in the “region of the Gerasenes.” Jesus is immediately confronted by a man (Matthew writes that there were two men – Matthew 8:28-34) coming out from the tombs. Mark paints a horrific picture of this demon-possessed man with superhuman strength, relegated to living alone in self-harm.
There are so many aspects of this story that fascinate me, beginning with the fact that the demon does not immediately respond to Jesus’ command to come out. This prompts Jesus to ask the demon’s name, and at that point, we learn that this poor man is not just inhabited; he’s infested. The demons identify themselves as Legion because they are many. This name would have given the observers a vivid picture because legion was a term used for a Roman military unit of up to 6,000 soldiers. The demons beg to be sent into the herd of pigs, and Jesus complies, but the pigs run off the cliff and drown themselves. Here’s a fun fact for you, according to National Geographic, pigs are excellent swimmers. It makes me think that the demons probably had no idea it would work out this way, but it appears that the pigs were driven mad by the demons and did not respond in a usual way. Did Jesus know this would be the outcome? I don’t know, but I believe He valued the man’s life, and the pigs were casualties in this battle between good and evil.
Another thing that fascinates me about this story is that it happened in Gentile territory. Pigs were considered unclean for Jews, and so it is unlikely that Jews would have a herd of 2,000 pigs. The story reads like freeing this tortured man was Jesus’ purpose in crossing the lake. Jesus’ ministry was mainly to the Jews, although there were other instances of Him reaching out into non-Jewish areas. When it’s all over, the healed man begs to leave with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to return to his community and tell what God had done for him. This would have had the impact of spreading the good news about Jesus into that region. Mark tells us that the region’s people were so terrified by what had happened that they begged Jesus to leave them. What might have happened had they realized the enormity of what they were witnessing?
Again, we see that Jesus is a liberator, come to free us from anything and everything that enslaves us. His power is greater than the wind and waves and all the powers of hell combined. Even the demons confess that He is “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.”
Executive Director of Education and Outreach