Saturday

“Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood.” (v. 7)

Mark 5:1-20 Saturday 23 January 2016

Psalm: Psalm 20


Background

This passage can be read on many levels, from a very big pictureto a very detailed one. It seems to me that at all levels verse 7holds true both then and today.

At the very detailed level we have a man who from theperspective of the Jews was about as unclean as it was possible toget. He was suffering torment and lived a life that was as scary toothers as it was hopeless for him. In this detailed picture we seeJesus meeting a person in deep human distress and need withhealing, restoration and peace.

At the biggest picture we see a part of the world that wasoccupied by the Romans, one that was not Jewish. There is powerfulimagery of the big political picture with people wanting to see theRomans pushed back into the sea. Jews familiar with the book ofDaniel would have put the Romans into their understanding of thesea as the place of monsters. So the idea of the Romans beingdriven into the sea (especially in pigs) to bring cleansing wouldappeal.

Across all these pictures there might also be in our minds whatis going to happen to Jesus. We read this knowing that the Gospelstory will include his body being torn apart by the Romans and indoing so evil will be defeated.

The response of verse 7 is true then and today.

When Jesus and his followers reached out to tormented, excluded,downright scary individuals, they brought hope and life. Welcoming,including, transforming the broken and hurting is deeplythreatening to those in authority then and now.

When Jesus and his followers challenge the powerful, the violentand the occupiers then this too is deeply unpopular. Stay out ofpolitics is one retort. The responses can be swift and brutal.

The powerful again respond out of fear and prejudice when Jesusand his followers look to the long story, to eternity, to ways ofbeing that include self-giving love, sacrifice.


To Ponder

  • Which size of picture are you most and least comfortable with?Why?
  • In what ways might we see verse 7 acted out in response toactions of healing and challenge today?
  • How far have we got the balance between responding toindividuals, nations and the full story of life, death andresurrection right? What should/could we change and why?
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