The heart behind these posts is to explore the bible together, and to try and apply what it says to our lives, to genuinely let the Word of God affect us on a Monday as well as a Sunday.
For the next sixteen weeks we will be looking each week at a chapter of Mark. I would encourage you to read through the whole chapter at least once as well as the specific chunks we’ll be focusing on.
Mark is the shortest of the four gospels that show the life of Jesus. It is the action film, it is fast and punchy.
Every town has one. You know, a crazy person.
They’re badly dressed, you can smell them a mile off and their hair, well that’s just not worth mentioning. We tend to stay away from them, cross the road when they are walking towards us and awkwardly shuffle away when they try to speak to us. But in reality, none compare to a person who is demon-possessed.
In Mark 5, Jesus encounters this very person. Picture it, this guy lives in a graveyard, it seems his friends and family want nothing to do with him and in Luke’s account we are told he doesn’t even wear any clothes. It gets worse…The guy is violent, people have tried to chain him down, stop all this madness but he is just too strong. We are told that he would break free and could be heard crying from the tombs day and night. Self-harm seemed like the only way of escape so he would cut himself with stones.
It’s sad really, he’s the sort of guy I would pray for but wouldn’t dare approach. Let’s be honest, I don’t think any of us would. But Jesus does. When Jesus steps onto the shore, we read that this nut runs towards him. If I was Jesus I would get on the boat! Instead, he stands his ground and the madman drops to his knees before Jesus, who commands the demon to leave this man alone. The man begs in desperation ‘Please, for God’s sake don’t torture me! Have I not suffered enough?’ Jesus, gently asks ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Legion’ the madman replies, ‘because of the amount of demons in me.’
Before we know it, we see Jesus casting the demons into a herd of 2000 pigs which rush down the mountain side into the lake before drowning.
Jesus the bully?
Wow, you really couldn’t write this stuff. Out of all drama, I can’t get rid of one thought. Not that this man ran to Jesus. It’s not that Jesus spent time with this low life. It’s not even that the darkness within him was able to kill a herd of pigs (the most unclean animal in Jewish culture). It’s Legion’s reaction to Jesus. ‘Please, don’t hurt me.’ This man genuinely thought Jesus wanted to make him suffer.
Let’s be clear, God is a God of justice, the Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). On top of this we are told that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin deserves to be punished and one day it will be. If we are outside of Christ the wrath of God is upon us.
But surely this man had not grasped who Jesus really was. We look at Jesus’ life and see that he did nothing but good, he fed the poor, healed the sick, loved the outcast and raised the dead on top of other amazing things. Jesus is the first person you would call on if you were in this guy’s situation, not the last! Right?
The more I think about this madman, the more I feel I can relate with him.
Before becoming a Christian I viewed Jesus as legalistic, judgemental and that by following him I would suffer and lose out on the things I enjoyed in life. I could often hear myself saying, ‘Jesus don’t torture me, just leave me alone!’ It wasn’t until I experienced his grace and his love through his forgiveness that I was able to see that Jesus didn’t kick a man when he is down, he doesn’t point a finger of judgment but instead gives a helping hand up.
I’m ashamed to say that even as a Christian I can relate with Legion. Sometimes when I sin I’m afraid of facing Jesus, I’m afraid to draw close because I might disappoint him and I’m afraid that I might not be working hard enough for him.
You see, that’s a madman’s mind-set. Thinking that Jesus has come to hurt me when the reality is that he was hurt for me, taking my guilt, shame and sin on Calvary’s cross. Jesus doesn’t come to put chains on us like many tried to do with Legion, but instead he comes to release us from them.Jesus doesn’t come to put chains on us ... but instead he comes to release us from them. Click To Tweet
The story finishes with Jesus sending this maniac turned missionary out to share what God has done for him in the surrounding towns. This madman now went out to try and turn men mad for Jesus. If Jesus could transform and use Legion, who’s saying he can’t do the same with you? We are set free to share this message of liberation!
The same way every town has one crazy guy, each town needs one person who is crazy for Jesus.
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