Jesus Overcomes Evil
March 21, 2019 | Timothy Peace
Mark 5:1-20 is an exciting story that genuinely highlights the question beyond THE question of the Gospel of Mark. Mark answers the initial issue at the very beginning of the text.
The question: Who is Jesus?
The answer: He is the Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1).
Simple enough, I suppose.
It’s the second question the text asks of readers/hears that becomes troublesome and that question is this: Acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, how am I to respond to him?
The answer to this question is incredibly complex and even if you give the “right answer,” the response you provide with your life might tell a different story than the words you profess from your lips.
Moreover, that’s why throughout the Gospel of Mark, there is so much time invested in telling or showing how the people around Jesus respond to Him. Nowhere is this trope more fascinating than in the story of the man possessed by the Legion of demons and Jesus’ healing of him.
First of all, the people could not control, nor subdue the man, despite attempting to chain him up, presumably to keep him from harming others and himself. I suppose that the man, to some extent, became avoidable given that he lived among the tombs (Mark 5:3) and apart from the rest of the people. The man, at one time, was likely a problem for people, but now, living alone in the tombs, he was only a problem to himself. So this is the state in which Jesus finds him.
As the story unfolds, Jesus approaches the man and, immediately, the demons possessing him
Eventually, Jesus sends the legion of demons into a heard of pigs, and the demons force the pigs to drown themselves.
The man begs to follow Jesus, and while Jesus says no to his request, he tells him to go and share what’s been done for him, and the man complies, responding faithfully to Jesus’ call because of the freedom Jesus has provided him.
The people in the region, on the other hand, want Jesus out of their territory. They’ve lost their pigs — no doubt a significant financial blow to their livelihood.
However, pay attention to what has occurred. The people didn’t care about the man and his condition because he wasn’t causing them problems. Jesus did care, and he brought healing into his life. This miracle should be welcomed with joy and gladness by all (the man and the community around him), yet only he is grateful. The at large community? They are none-too-pleased with Jesus’ miracle work.
The healed man goes and shares the good news he received with others. Those that choose to reject Jesus are only concerned about themselves and their livelihood. Jesus came to bring good news into the world. Those that deny Jesus claim that the good news (and good deeds) of Jesus is, in fact, bad news.
The moral of the story: respond to Jesus like the man who is relieved of his affliction, not like the onlookers who can only find the inconvenience in the gospel and are blind to the goodness Jesus brings.