The note this week have been provided by Hannah.
So, Jesus and his disciples reach the shore of the Sea of Galilee and find their feet on solid ground again. I bet the disciples were still full of adrenaline after the storm, relieved to be safe, still reeling from what they’d seen Jesus do. Unfortunately, they’re immediately confronted with another dangerous situation. The passage can be read here.
This is a freaky story. It’s one of the weirdest in my opinion. The man in this story probably lived a normal life at some point, just like everyone else. Now he is unable to control his own life, naked, alone and rejected by everyone in the town. He’s been possessed by something incredibly powerful, he was able to break his chains and escape which means he was stronger than your average guy. The town probably talked about him, joked about him and had nightmares about him. They obviously all knew what he was like as they are completely surprised when they see him after the miracle.
There is a pattern that Jesus sets throughout the gospels where he always meets with, and loves, the people that everyone else has rejected or judged. The man who was full of leprosy (Luke 5), the woman at the well (John 4) and today’s possessed man are all examples of this. Jesus reaches the last, the least and the lost. Phew!
The pig farmers, who also wouldn’t have been the most respected people in town, saw the whole thing. They would have seen the man approach the oncoming boat, they would have seen Jesus drive out the demons and they would have seen the pigs possessed. If I was them I probably would have run away too! They go straight to the town and spread the news.
There’s a lot of fear in this passage, the demons are afraid, the pig farmers are afraid and the people of the town are afraid. All fear Jesus. This seems strange but is actually incredibly commonplace for us. These people, with their own eyes, saw the power that Jesus had and the evidence of the miracle (the town’s reject has been completely transformed). They must’ve seen that their sinful ways were threatened by him, they would have to change. That’s scary for everyone and we see every single day that people are so scared to change that they drive Jesus away.
The thing is, Jesus values our free will and wants us to make a choice to follow him. He doesn’t force the town to listen to him, he doesn’t dig his heels in and insist on staying until they all repent. He leaves the town when they ask him to. He allows us the same courtesy, we have to choose to follow him. The man who is restored becomes an evangelist, showing people his transformation and talking of Jesus in a town which is resistant to him. I wonder what the outcome was?
There’s a picture here of the cross, Jesus came to this place and saved the man who was possessed – only to be driven out by the town. Jesus would later be hated by a bigger crowd, shouting “crucify him!”, choosing to get rid of him rather than change. He did it to save us, to heal us and to restore us.
Thank you God that love us enough to give everything. Thank you that you love us enough to let us make our own choice. Lord help us to choose you every day, even if it means we have to change everything.