Summary: Blacksburg tragedy: Jesus even loves the demons. He shows this by being involved in our lives, even we won’t have him. In a fallen world, that’s what we need.
Title: He has a demon
Text: Luke 8:26 - 39
SO: I want to model forgiveness by exhorting the church to pray for the victims and the shooter
1. Dealing with the Mentally ill
b. How the People responded – Isolated him
c. How Jesus responded – Loved him in spite of being told to go away
2. When change comes
a. People thought of themselves
b. Jesus thought about Legion - What he needed (a reason)
i. A purpose (meaning)
ii. Acceptance (in his own town)
3. How will we respond?
a. There isn’t much purpose in the killing,
b. But we can pray for those now
Seung-Hui Cho had a demon. There’s really no more explanation than that. Obviously, he was mentally ill. Obviously his was a tortured soul. We all know that this world is destructive, most of us have the ability to suppress that, but in his diseased mind, Cho was not. And, sadly for him and his victims, the consequences are obvious. What is left is for us, the living, to decide how we will respond.
This morning, in a time ‘when we ask how could this happen? ,’Well, it has happened before. Oh, we can all still rehearse the litany: Red Lake, Jonesboro, Columbine, the Amish school, and now we add Virginia Tech. I could tell you it’s not unique to our generation. I’ve told you before the story of the Bath School Massacre. Back in 1920, nearly 50 died when an unstable man blew up a school in Michigan. But that doesn’t make it go away.
The story of mentally ill goes back a lot further even that. Luke records an account for us of Legion. You’re probably familiar with the details. Man with a demon is healed, some pigs die. This story highlights Jesus’ power of the demons. And make no mistake, he does have that power. But I don’t want to go there right away. For every Legion who is healed, we know legions who aren’t. And for those us who live with the Legions, the question is, how do we go on another day, waiting for Jesus?
This story begins with Legion, but he’s not alone in this story. He lives in a community, and they are an important part. He is clearly far gone. At first, the people of the town tried what they could. They knew he wasn’t right, so they’d guard him. But he’d attack. Then they tried chaining him. But he’d break the chains. Finally, they chose the option of isolation. Legion would find his living place amongst the dead.
If you’ve ever dealt with the mentally ill, you understand why. It’s not pleasant. Hearing the same old ramblings, the grumblings. Day after day the same utter inability to make meaning, the lack of sense. Even when there is coherence, there’s not always sense. It’s frustrating. It’s very natural to want to put them away. Out of sight, out of mind.
For years we did the same thing. And in the best institutions, they were cared for by those trained and prepared to deal with such needs. In others, they weren’t. And that was a tragedy. In spite of the desire of the mentally ill to be left alone, that’s the worst thing for them.
Jesus knew this. And so, when Jesus saw this man – naked, irrational, shut out by society, Jesus asks the one thing this man can answer. He asks him his name. It’s a touch – a thing that can be done for this man. And Legion answers. I’ll pick up the story here.
When Jesus asked him his name, Legion reacted. He knew his demons. His demons knew Jesus. And they were afraid. “What do you want with me, Jesus of Nazareth?” they asked.
You see, Jesus loved him. In spite of who he was and how acted, Jesus loved Legion. That’s just how Jesus works. He loves us all. He doesn’t demand or force himself, but lovingly reaches out to each of us, no matter what we’ve done. As Paul says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
From the news reports I’ve heard, Cho had pretty much the same reaction. What do you want with me? In his case, it was a painful cry; in Legion’s, one of fear. Both had been isolated in their own lives so long, that the first to peer into their shells were not well received. But it was needed. This touch they both so desperately needed and yet rejected. That’s what the disease does.
Jesus did not heal every sick person he saw. God doesn’t always answer our prayers on our terms and in our timelines. But, I suspect if we knew how many he healed before we ever knew, we’d be amazed. It’s a lot like the post office. Every now and then a letter gets lost. We don’t notice the billions that get there on time. It’s out of the ordinary. And when these things do happen, we wonder why. I don’t want to say that God has a plan for this. But I know he does.