Friday

02 September 2016

"Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood." (v. 34)

Psalm: Psalm 146


Background

With every outrage of humanity's behaviour the arguments rage: Did they do what they did through illness or through evil, and therefore, planned intent? In some cases the answer is clear, in other cases difficult to define.

The debate about demon possession and mental health issues is one such debate. The lines are not easy to define from the stories of Jesus that we read. Suffice to say that medical knowledge and understanding were not as advanced in Jesus' day.

From a background of working in the field of mental health for a time I know that mental health issues are very real, very difficult, hard to pin down and are only reluctantly shared with a wider society for fear of rejection.

But what interests me most in today's passage is the reaction of the general population to the events that unfold before them.

Anger I could understand - they had just lost a good part of their income when the herd of pigs threw themselves into the water and probably drowned.

Delight that the undesirable wandering the tombs and the edges of the community had gone I would see as reasonable.

But, Matthew tells us (as do Mark and Luke in parallel passages), they reacted with fear - wanting Jesus to go away.

Were the events of the day too much for them to cope with? Did they recognise the power and authority embodied by Jesus and wonder 'Who next?' - looking at each other? Or was it simply that this was a threat to their security and everyday living upsetting the status quo?
 

To Ponder

  • Whatever their reasoning, the people's response was fear. What fear do you harbour within yourself - perhaps you are even unwilling to give it a name?
     
  • What is the worst that could happen if you named and dealt with that fear?
     
  • How could you see God helping you to 'name and shame' your fear so that you could be free?


Bible notes author: The Revd Una McLean

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