Some job interviews require you bring a piece of your work with you – a project you have worked on, a piece you have written, designs you have developed – an example of what you can do, something that shows your capabilities and shows how you work. It forms part of showing how you could do the job.
Many would have been wondering what the new way that Jesus was bringing would look like, what it would mean in practical terms, how it would effect life…
Jesus goes to the other side of the lake, and meets a man “with an evil spirit”, who people had been trying to bring under control for years. The spirits in him begin a conversation, and we soon see what Jesus can do.
A Man with Evil Spirits
1Jesus and his disciples crossed Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. 2When he was getting out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit quickly ran to him 3from the graveyard where he had been living. No one was able to tie the man up anymore, not even with a chain. 4He had often been put in chains and leg irons, but he broke the chains and smashed the leg irons. No one could control him. 5Night and day he was in the graveyard or on the hills, yelling and cutting himself with stones.
6When the man saw Jesus in the distance, he ran up to him and knelt down. 7He shouted, “Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? Promise me in God’s name that you won’t torture me!” 8The man said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to come out of him.
9Jesus asked, “What is your name?”
The man answered, “My name is Lots, because I have `lots’ of evil spirits.” 10He then begged Jesus not to send them away.
11Over on the hillside a large herd of pigs was feeding. 12So the evil spirits begged Jesus, “Send us into those pigs! Let us go into them.” 13Jesus let them go, and they went out of the man and into the pigs. The whole herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
14The men taking care of the pigs ran to the town and the farms to spread the news. Then the people came out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had once been full of demons. He was sitting there with his clothes on and in his right mind, and they were terrified.
16Everyone who had seen what had happened told about the man and the pigs. 17Then the people started begging Jesus to leave their part of the country.
18When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man begged to go with him. 19But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how good he has been to you.”
20The man went away into the region near the ten cities known as Decapolis and began telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him. Everyone who heard what had happened was amazed.
If anyone had been wondering what Jesus could do, this shows it. This man has been suffering, no one could control him or release him – Jesus does. Whatever “with an evil spirit” meant, it was holding this man down, stopping him being the person he could be – and Jesus freed him from it. As Tom Wright points out, some human beings “need a drastic rescue operation” (p 41) – Jesus is doing that for this man.
There are so many layers to this story. One of the interesting things about this passage is that the demons recognized Jesus. Many of those around had failed to do this. They were missing out on what he had to offer. But the demons saw Jesus for who and what he was, they knew he could do mighty work, and we see it happen.
So, if Jesus can release a man from as difficult a situation as this, he can bring his release to us too. Have we got ourselves caught up in something we should not have, our we being held back by chains? Jesus longs to rescue us too – will we let him? However far we have gone, God never abandons us (Tom Wright p 43).
Yesterday we thought about suffering. Will we let God touch our suffering too, and release it from the hold it has over us?
Lent leads us to reflect on what is holding us back – everything. This is our opportunity to let God free us.
Jesus has power over all the forces of the world. We’ve seen what he can do for this one man – what can he do for us?
This, Mark is saying, is what it’s like when God takes charge (Tom Wright p 43)
Thank you Lord
for your power to overcome,
that nothing is stronger than you.
I give to you the things that hold me down,
keep me back,
and ask that you break their power over me.
My I recognise you,
and all that you can do
and trust you
with all of my life.