Saturday 23 November 2013

Mark 5:1-20 - Many demons

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After the calming of the storm on Galilee, Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of the man with a legion of demons. Jesus and his disciples arrive on the opposite shore of the lake, probably a Greek area. The harassed man falls to his knees before Jesus and the impure spirit in him asks not to be tortured.

In those days asking a demon's name was part of the standard formula for casting them out. Jesus seems to be following normal methods in doing so. This legion of demons asks permission to enter a nearby herd of pigs; these were unclean animals, so perhaps an acceptable home for unclean spirits, and Jesus grants their wish. The pigs end up in the lake.

When the townspeople hear what happened and the see the man acting normally they are very much afraid, and when they hear how it was done they plead with Jesus to leave. As he turns to go, the released man asks to go with him, but Jesus tells him that instead he should tell his story to the people living near his home.

There's a lot here for us to grapple with. As his disciples in our own era and culture we need to see the extent of Jesus authority [Tweet it!]; understand his willingness to work amongst non-Jews; know that we, too, should throw ourselves at his feet; be willing to follow him in ejecting unclean spirits; want to accompany him but be willing to accept whatever instructions he gives us; and be ready to tell others what he has done for us.

That's a lot to take on board, and some of it is very challenging. How will you go forward with this? Where will you begin?

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