Devotion for Saturday, April 5th

Brooke Eikenberry Lent 2014

Mark 5:1-20
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.  And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain;  for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.  Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him;  and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”  For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”  He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.  Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding;  and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.”  So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.  The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened.  They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid.  Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it.  Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood.  As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him.  But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

 

Jesus heals a madman possessed by powerful demons, their strength exemplified by their name Legion—the oppressive and occupying Roman troops.  Choosing to minister to this man on the gentile side of the Galilean Sea, Jesus tells us that the love of God is not just for our kind but for all kinds.  This is one of many Jesus stories with a similar theme:  the widow, the gentile, the Samaritan, the sinner, the sick…these are the people that Jesus reached out to most dramatically.

Jesus teaches us to build a community of inclusiveness, and to minister to the poor, the poor in spirit, the sick, the marginalized.  However, this is not some horrible path, not a task for those who have nothing else to do.  We have learned enough about the human spirit to know that in caring for others we find our own joy and the purpose and meaning of life.  My mother, a dedicated nurse, would certainly agree.  By spreading this teaching of inclusion and healing, Jesus shows us that in rebuilding each other’s lives, we will find meaning and purpose in our own.

– Submitted by Jean Hasser

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