Summary: Four responses to the change Jesus brings to our lives are pictured by the demoniac story of Mark.
“Maria” cleaned up her own blood from a stairwell in an East Side apartment building. “Maria” was not attacked or in an accident — she intentionally cut herself with a razor blade. You’ll find out why in a moment, but first you need to know that “Maria” suffers from a disorder called “self-mutilation,” which is also known as “cutting.”
“Maria” says, “People can see [my scars], and I’m too afraid to tell them about a razor blade because I don’t think they understand, so I just tell them that they’re scratches, and that they’re just like a nervous habit.”
But it’s not just a nervous habit — it’s a serious psychological disorder that requires medical attention. “Maria” is now getting help from her psychotherapist, Dr. Steven Levenkron.
Dr. Levenkron says, “Self-mutilation is cutting yourself, burning yourself, lacerating your skin, attacking your skin in a variety of ways to perceive the pain and to feel the pain involved, because the pain involved and the blood that is seen distracts people from their emotional pain. . . . “We are not talking about people with healthy, intact relations to people. We are talking about people that feel profoundly lonely and profoundly separate from the rest of the world.” “Maria,” who is a 30-year-old pre-med student, also suffers from an eating disorder — anorexia.
It’s estimated that up to three million people — mostly women — are cutters. The disorder usually begins around puberty and Doctor Levenkron says the psycho-logical symptoms include withdrawal, moodiness and depression. The obvious physical symptoms are many scratches and nicks on their forearms, chest or stomach.
Therapy is not easy for cutters like “Maria.” Dr. Levenkron says it could take years to help a patient stop cutting themselves because the disorder is a complex web of low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect. Dr. Levenkron concludes: “We can’t just take away the razor blade and say, ‘Now you’re all right.’ The razor blade is the tip of the iceberg.”
But “Maria” says no matter how long it takes, she’s going to hang in there so she can learn how to cope with her pain without shedding her blood.
Cutting is not new. Let me introduce to you a man in the Bible who was a cutter. But this man did not need a psychotherapist. He needed Jesus Christ.
Read Mark 5:1-13.
Notice the similarities between Maria and the demoniac Jesus healed. Maria felt profoundly lonely, separate from the rest of the world. The demoniac lived in the moun-tains, alone, and had no one to help him. Do you feel lonely sometimes? Do you feel withdrawn, moody, or depressed? I’m not saying you are a candidate for becoming a cutter. I am saying you are a candidate for Jesus to change your life.
You and I may not be a cutter, but we do struggle with the same things cutters do at some level. Jesus wants to change us just as He did this man. Today, the Lord wants to examine our hearts with His Word, and show us our response to Jesus Christ’s life-changing power in our lives. He truly wants to change us. Will you look with me at the four responses to Jesus in the next seven verses?
1. (V. 14) – Some Are Appalled.
When the swine herders’ lives were changed by Jesus, they were appalled. They were taken aback. They were offended. Their own income was taken away, and they could have cared less about the poor man just healed of demonic possession. They only cared about themselves. They were simply appalled by the change Jesus brought to their lives.
Today, a great many people will not receive Christ because of the changes He may send their way. We hear it in their rejections all the time. We hear people say:
• I’ll just have to give up all my fun.
• What will my family think?
• I’ll lose my job! (How like these swine herders!)
Others are incredulous that it is possible that someone might possibly be changed by a Jesus they cannot see. They think it is ridiculous, uneducated, foolish, and childish to trust in Jesus Christ, and they are appalled when others do. This is the attitude of the mainstream media, the politicians, academia, and scientific community. I often wonder what might have happened if the swine herders had not been appalled, but had believed? Might the Lord have doubled their herds later?
The problem was that the swine-herders had only themselves in mind. They had no love for others, and certainly no desire to be changed.
Love does not seek its own, but hurt people become more and more self-seeking and selfcontained. In this climate the love of God waxes cold. A natural example of this is the two seas in the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee freely receives and gives out wa-ter. It has an abundance of life, nurturing many different kinds of fish and plant life. The water of the Sea of Galilee is carried by way of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. But the Dead Sea only takes water in and does not give it out. There are no living plants or fish in it. The living waters from the Sea of Galilee become dead when mixed with the hoarded waters of the Dead Sea. Life cannot be sustained if held onto: It must be given freely.