Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
Today’s Scripture is full of rich imagery and gripping action. At face value, it stands as another example of Jesus’ power to heal people from affliction. There is much more going on in this passage however, and for a fuller understanding, we can view it as an allegory. At the time this account was written down, the Roman Empire occupied and oppressed people all across the Sea of Galilee. The cruel Romans were despised by the original readers of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus casts out a demon named Legion. The name “Legion” in ancient Greek (λεγεών) specifically meant the collections of Roman troops that occupied Israel, Judah and the surrounding areas. When Jesus casts out Legion, Mark is using a metaphor for casting out the Roman occupiers from God’s land. For Mark’s Jewish audience, casting the “Roman demons” into pigs, which were particularly unclean to devout Jews, then out off their shores would be a fitting end to their tyranny, and proper resolution of God’s promised vengeance found in the Psalms and Jeremiah. This is a radical and subversive act by Jesus. It is no wonder that the people in this town were afraid. They were worried about the Roman reprisals and insisted that Jesus, the trouble maker, go on about his way.
The man who was healed was not afraid however. He wanted to join Jesus and travel with him. Jesus refused. Instead he left the man there in the Decapolis with the commissioning to share his story of redemption in order to bring Glory to God.
Today’s Scripture has a deep and rich texture, with many layers to uncover as we glean the deeper meanings of God’s Word and try to apply them to our lives. Our Scripture today reminds us that Jesus will boldly confront systems of oppression, and ultimately defeat them. Even though the man who was healed from a demon could not be physically “with” Jesus, he became a disciple all the same by living out his commissioning to share the Good News in the Decapolis. Likewise, 2000 years later, Jesus challenges us to share our own accounts of God’s healing and redemption with others, in our communities, to God’s glory.
Prayer: God, we thank you for this day and ask that you heal us from all the things that possess us. Free us Lord from bondage and lift the weight of oppression from all of your children. Reveal to us the vast and endless truth of your Word and equip us to share your Good News. Amen.