Monday- Day 11
Mark 5:1-20 (Comments on Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright)
I find this to be a most puzzling scripture. Jesus travels to a foreign land where he encounters a man who is being tormented by a legion (his name is Legion) of unclean spirits. A Roman legion consisted of around 6000 soldiers. Jesus called the unclean spirit out of the man, but not before granting the spirit permission to go into the herd of pigs. The pigs then drove down the slope into the sea and were drowned, all 2,000 of them. I’m not going to even attempt to answer why the spirit were given permission to invade the pigs, instead of just being sent into the abyss. The fact that Jews were not allowed to eat pork seems to be a pretty weak argument for Jesus’ consent, since the farmers raising these pigs were most likely Gentiles, rather than Jews.
N.T. Wright maintains that this passage needs to be understood on two or three different levels. Those who believe that the Bible is basically a set of nice moral rules and instructions for living need to turn to passages like this one and get thoroughly confused and perplexed by its message
This passage reminds me of some of the stories I have heard through the years about persons suffering from mental illness. Some have been helped by the medications and treatments they have received and been able to live a seemingly normal life. There are others, however, who don’t seem to get any better, no matter what kind of treatments that doctors and psychiatrists try to prescribe for them. They are often tormented by the voices they hear and the inner confusion and chaos they experience. So often, the physical side effects of the medications can be very detrimental to these persons. I realize that people are not machines and there’s much about life that still remains a mystery to us, especially in understanding the path towards health and wholeness. I have agonized in prayer for these tormented people and wondered if they are simply beyond help in this life.
This passage gives me the hope that no matter how bleak a situation may be in life, God cares for us and will not abandon us and so we should not give up either in our pursuit of healing and wholeness either. I would give anything to see the faces of those fellow country folk who saw this man fully restored. When such a thing happens, one can’t help but to be in awe of what God can really do through Jesus, our risen Lord.