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A Lenten Journey of Release & Renewal (Day Eleven)




Day Eleven



Scripture: Mark 5:1-20

They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake. 14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.



Observation:


This is arguably one of the most interesting stories of Jesus, yet also one of the most difficult to understand. What does it mean that the name of the unclean spirit was “Legion”? Why did Jesus allow the evil spirits to enter the pigs? What happened to the Legion when those poor pigs drowned? What good did Jesus do by completely destroying the local business of the swineherds?


In the Roman army, a legion was the largest military unit, consisting of about 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry. However, this doesn’t imply that there were literally about 5,000 unclean spirits occupying this one man’s soul. The name simply indicates a large number, hence a powerful force. This powerful evil force was out of control. No one could restrain him. No shackles, chains, or human power could subdue the Legion.


Therefore, the story tells us about the liberating power of Jesus. His healing power surpasses anything in the world, so even the Legion was expelled, along with the business of the Roman colonizers. Jewish people were prohibited from eating pigs by law, so the owners of the swineherds must have been those who served the Romans. Admittedly, this is still too cruel and violent by modern moral standards. However, the whole point of the story is that Jesus cared about this poor man more than any power in the world who was captured by the Legion - the colonial power of the Roman Empire and the many evil spirits and injustices it caused.


What surprises me the most today is that when people witnessed the amazing powerful act of Jesus, they begged him to leave their neighborhood. This is contrary to the fact that in other villages, whenever Jesus healed someone, people brought all those who were sick and possessed by evil spirits to him to be healed. I understand that they were afraid. Perhaps they were angry at him because of the dead pigs. However, why didn’t they ask Jesus to do more of his healing work in the region?


When it feels like there are thousands of “unclean spirits” capturing my soul, may I have the courage to ask Jesus to heal me, instead of pushing him away and falling into the river of despair.



Application:

  1. What is the name of the “unclean spirit” that is trying to capture your soul today?

  2. What could you do to be with Jesus who is the Healer and Liberator?



Prayer / Reflection:


Song of Reflection: Draw Me Close









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