Saturday, January 31, 2009

Matthew 8:28-9:1

Jesus heals the Gadarene demoniacs

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go!" So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town.

Comments: There are several things about this story that have always given me pause. First of all why would the demons challenge Jesus? I find that evil is always challenging the good. Evil always tries to sully the good. Anyone who tries to live a life of joy and gratitude is a magnet for those who cannot tolerate goodness. It is as if they cannot stand for goodness to be triumphant. Jesus sent the demons into the pigs. Of course, swine were considered unclean and were abhorrent to the Jews of the area. The demons were consigned to the unclean where they would not be bothersome to the Jews of the region.

I have also wondered why there would be swine in Israel. But the Galilee was a region that was quite pluralistic. There were many Greeks, Romans and other peoples in the Galilee. Jews were a minority in the area of the Gadara. So Jesus was preaching not only to the Jews but to all kinds of people. The demoniacs were also living in an ‘unclean’ area—among the tombs. So this whole story reminds me that God is able to overcome evil even when evil targets those who are good.

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