Today we are reading from Mark 5: 1-20:
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
I had a friend that used to pick with me that anytime I taught Bible Study, whatever passage I was teaching on was my favorite. And there may be something to that. I tend to find something beautiful and worthy in every passage of scripture that I read. There is so much that there gets me excited. But all that said, today’s passage is one of my absolute favorite passages in all the bible. There is so much good stuff there.
Jesus went to the other side of the sea today. He went there for peace and rest, but for Jews, they didn’t go to the other side of the sea. That’s where the Romans lived. That’s why there were pigs there. Remember for Jews, pigs were unclean. This was a Gentile city.
Did your grandmother ever try to keep you from going somewhere by saying there was a “boogie man” there? Mine did. Well, Jewish grandmothers tried to keep their Jewish kids from going to the other side by telling them these scary stories:
On the other side of the sea, there are Gentiles! And they have pigs! And cemeteries in the city! And they are naked!
Everything I just listed would be terrifying. Gentiles, obviously, especially if they are Roman. Pigs, unclean. But cemeteries and nakedness both are unclean to them, because they are a product of the Fall, what happened when Adam and Eve sinned. When they sinned, what was the first thing they realized? They were naked. That is why nakedness is a shameful thing in scripture, it harkens back to the Fall and to sin. Likewise, what was the consequence? Death. That is why Jews avoided cemeteries and graves. They were the direct consequence of the fall. So, think about what it sounded like to the ears of the Pharisees when Jesus called them white-washed tombs.
So, what happens when they sail across? Everything they fear. A naked guy, in a cemetery, surrounded by Gentiles and pigs! It is literally their worst nightmare. Everything they fear.
And what does Jesus do? He brings calm. He brings peace. He brings calm to the storm. He restores it all. He brings life. We see that Jesus is greater than their fears.
We see that Jesus is greater than our fears. We see that there is nothing in all of the world, no matter how terrifying, that is greater than Jesus. What have we to fear? Nothing or no one. Because Jesus is greater. That is the point of this text today. Jesus is greater than all their fears.
Jesus is greater than all our fears.
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