2,000 Pigs Drown in Lake. Bacon Shortage Imminent!
The story revealed in Mark 5 has always been one that has interested me. It’s a story of isolation, hopelessness, pity, deliverance, gratitude, power and priorities. Most of you have read or heard the story. I encourage you to read it again or for the first time. Jesus has just come off the boat from an exhaustive period of ministry, and no sooner than his sandals hit dry land he is approached by a man controlled by evil spirits, so much so that he was forced to live in the tombs because people were so afraid of his demon-induced strength and frightening countenance. Everyone fled at his presence. The demonic control was so strong he was not even able to answer Jesus for himself and offer his name. Instead, the demon answered with the name “Legion, for we are many!”
This story gives evidence that even the demons know who Jesus is and fear His power, saying“What do you want with me Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you will not torture me.” The demon begged to be released to enter a herd of pigs feeding nearby and Jesus accommodated him. The spirits left the man at Jesus’ command, entered the herd of pigs, and the pigs were so disturbed by this invasion they ran down a steep bank into a lake and were drowned. The tortured man was set free! When the townspeople came and observed him, dressed and in his right mind, they rejoiced with the man at his good fortune and celebrated not just that he was free but that Jesus had come in power to their village. Wouldn’t you be thrilled too? Wait!
Actually, the townspeople were not thrilled. The welfare of this pathetic, tortured man was insignificant compared to the loss of their herd. In fact, just as the once demon-possessed man plead with Jesus for mercy, these people plead with Jesus to hit the road and don’t come back! “Leave the region!” Compassion was absent. These people were heartless and unable to appreciate the mercy and presence of God because it cost them something they valued more than a man’s life and their opportunity to embrace this visitation from Jesus. This ought to prompt us to call into question our priorities and use of the time God allows us. We heard in last week’s message a good line to remember. Not just to remember, but to apply. “Love Jesus most by loving others best.” Isn’t that what the “Christ-life” boils down to? Not excellence in theology or a track record of being an accomplished bible-study “aficionado,” although we certainly do need to know a thing or two, but by putting on the robe and sandals Jesus wore as he served others. Jesus said “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) How much of our lives do we give away like this?
This is the Christ-centered, the Christ-focused life, isn’t it? Pouring oneself out to benefit others, especially those who have not received or are not aware of how to receive the gift of eternal life.
Have you ever wondered what Christ thinks about the pattern of your life? Not that we must strive to inherit salvation. Let’s agree that salvation is by grace, through faith, not by works, and that our “deeds” are motivated by the inspiration of the Spirit already sealing us and dwelling within us. Perhaps we could invite Jesus by His Spirit to take a glance our way and sharpen our vision and sensitivity as to where He can be using us to minister to others. It could be in the church, in our community, or even with our neighbor. He will show us opportunities for His life to manifest through us if we ask, listen and follow through.
One last thing about the man Jesus rescued. Out of deepest gratitude he begged to go forward with Jesus. Jesus said no, saying in essence now that you have sensed My touch, you go now and tell others they can have hope in my mercy and goodness. Has Jesus truly rescued you? Are your chains on the floor? Think About It.