In this instalment of “Amazed by Jesus”, the inhabitants of 10 towns – Decapolis are amazed by the transformation in one man by Jesus.The transformation shows us that no-one is too far from God to be reached and changed by the power of Jesus.The more man at the start of the narrative in Mark 5 has almost nothing going for him. He was likely not a Jews for starter, living in the mainly Gentile area of Gerasenes. He lived in the tombs, so would have been ceremonially unclean anyway, like a character out of that horrible festival Halloween. Worse than that this guy was demonised by multiple demons – who named themselves “Legion.” That’s a Roman army reference to legion of soldiers, six thousand men. Whether he had that many demons or it was just a euphemism for lots of them, we don’t know. And I wouldn’t trust the words of a demon anyway.
He was isolated from the community, violent and possessing of supernatural strength. He also self-harmed. A man in great need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ. He did not need pills, psychiatrists, prison or a priest, he needed an encounter with Jesus Christ.
The response of the demons to the presence of Jesus is typical. They recognise Jesus’ divinity immediately – “the Son of the Most High God” and they are fearful of their fate. On this occasion, Jesus asks their name, getting the response “Legion.” Normally Jesus silences the demons immediately, perhaps on this occasion Jesus asked for the name to highlight how massive a divine encounter this is going to be. Pigs were unclean animals to the Jews, adding to the shock value of this encounter in a Gentile area. I’m pretty sure Peter would have been freaking out! The demons beg to be allowed to go into the pigs – all 2,000 of them. That promptly run down the steep bank and drown in the sea. What a noise! What a scene that would have been.
The pig farmers fled in terror and told everyone in Decapolis what had happened. The people rush out and see the previously wretched demoniac changed, clothed and calm. They are scared stiff and beg Jesus to leave the region. Why? Were they scared of the show of supernatural power? Counting the losses for loosing 2,000 pigs? Having just watched the tear of a pig farmer loosing his herd on TV news, I can only imagine the feelings of the farmers.
The transformed man wanted to go with Jesus and the disciples, but he is commanded to start telling his story in the area. To tell of all the Lord has done and his mercy. He is obedient and begins to tell the story and that is what amazes people. They were amazed by Jesus changing lives.
Do you need freedom in Christ? Jesus announced his mission in Luke 4, using the words of part of Isaiah 61
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Jesus is good news, brings freedom and recovery in an amazing way. As a church we will be offering the Freedom in Christ course, which is based on Jesus words “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
The striking note at the end is that the transformed man kept telling his story. Do you have a story of God’s work in you to tell? And do you tell it?