Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time, he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”– for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)
Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.
Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.
Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
The demons fear Jesus. The people are scared of him. The man who had been marginalized and an outcast sits at his feet in his right mind, fearless of Jesus. Put yourself in this story. Who do you relate to? You are not allowed to say, I’m a disciple, a passive observer of the story. If I’m honest, I am probably most like the people asking Jesus to go away. They saw great power that did not make sense to them. They saw someone who had caused a great loss of the swineherd. They saw someone who healed a person they had rejected.
I wonder if they were fearful of the unknown, or if they were uncomfortable with how Jesus loved and cared for someone they did not. Were they afraid or were they uncomfortable? There is a difference you know. Jesus calls us to love through the pouring out of our lives. That should spark some fear at the enormity of the call. It should also lead us to be okay with discomfort. Loving the broken, standing up for the oppressed, making sacrifices leads us to discomfort. We are usually not unsafe but rather uncomfortable in those moments. What will you do to be uncomfortable in the name of Christ today?
This week’s devotion is brought to you by Campbell University’s Center for Church & Community.