Scripture: Mark 5:1-20
Key verses: (18-20) 18As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19But 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.” 20And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Reflection: Jesus has been teaching and healing in Galilee. He has called disciples and taught them in parables. Great crowds follow him to listen to him and witness his power. He has upset the Pharisees with his activities on the Sabbath and some of his teachings. Just before this story in the gospel of Mark, Jesus gets into a boat to cross with his disciples to the “other side,” extending his reach beyond Galilee. A great storm sweeps over the sea, and Jesus calms it, astonishing his friends. His power over the natural forces that threaten human life mystifies them.
When they land in the country of the Gerasenes, Jesus shows them his power to calm forces that destroy human life from within. They meet a man possessed by a legion of demons. He has been banished to live among the tombs, where he howls and bruises himself with stones. I assume that his demons were some variety of mental illness of which there was no knowledge or treatment in that time. Jesus heals him, and the man begs to follow Jesus. Who can blame him? He will not have an easy time of it if he stays in town, even healed. Because of him, two thousand swine were destroyed, a fortune belonging to someone who will undoubtedly be angry. The people in the area don’t seem to welcome the man back in his right mind. They are mostly afraid. They ask Jesus to leave.
Jesus tells the man to go and tell others what the Lord had done for him. This is sometimes the hard part, isn’t it? We like to keep these kinds of things private, if we can. Talking about our healing means we have to talk about our illness, or weakness, or failing, or mistakes. We have to expose our need for Jesus before we can describe his mercy to us. In this way, the man was at an advantage. Everyone already knew what was up with him. When he shows up healed, talking and proclaiming the grace of Jesus, people are amazed. This is how the gospel spreads.
What story of God’s mercy do you have to tell?
Prayer: Lord, you know me. You know my need for you. Help me welcome your healing, and then make me bold to go and tell. Open my mouth and my lips will proclaim your praise. In the name of Christ, who has the power to calm and heal every storm and demon, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].