Mark 5:1-20 is the story of Jesus delivering the demoniac. The first challenge out of this story I posted here.
The second challenge I have is the response of the people.
14 Those who tended the pigs ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. People came to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to be demon-possessed. They saw the very man who had been filled with many demons sitting there fully dressed and completely sane, and they were filled with awe. 16Those who had actually seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man told the others about the pigs. 17 Then they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region. (Mark 5:14-17, CEB)
They begged Jesus to leave. The maniac who had made their lives miserable was well, but they asked Jesus to leave.
Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, had a great message I heard many years ago called, “Choosing Swine Over the Savior.” It was from this story, and I still think of that title every time I read this passage.
What is it that causes people to want a raving lunatic in their midst rather than the power of the Kingdom of God?
Perhaps it’s control. Even though the maniac was painful to deal with, they could manage that pain. With Jesus they came face to face with Someone they couldn’t manage. This Man had crushed demonic spirits. A lot of them.
What did that mean for them?
We often will tolerate a lot of pain in our lives. We will tolerate things that are often considered intolerable because we fear the pain of change. When the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same, then we change.
The people of the area feared change. They feared what they could not control, or at least manage.
Setting people free is messy and it’s hard work. Often we’re just not up for it. We like the manageable God we have come up with and any sense of something new can really put a jolt in us.
But people are bound. The gospel sets them free. And we are the instruments of change.