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Summary: This story illustrates three of the possible attitudes of people that encounter Christ. 1. There are those who run from him 2. There are those who tell him to go away and 3. There are those who embrace him, those whom Jesus heals and who then go ou

Rotherby 20-06-2010

I wonder, when you heard our Gospel reading read this morning if you like me focussed initially on the destruction of the pigs in this story.

I wonder if you asked the question

Why did Jesus allow the demons to enter into the pigs?

1. Was it simply to demonstate that this really was the healing of a demoniac.

In other words it was a visible demonstration that unclean spirits had left the man by going into unclean animals – as pigs were considered unclean in Jesus’ day

2. Was it to show that the least of human beings – which the man Legion probably appeared to the people in the area of the Gerasenes - was more valuable than material wealth (the pigs were very valuable).

3. Did it symbolise the cleaning of Gentile territory (which the Gerasenes was).

That is that Jesus cleanses Gentile territory from unclean spirits – and unclean animals

I don’t know the answer, for I think it is an enigma that we will never satisfactorily resolve.

But don’t make the mistake of dismissing the power of demon activity either

It was C. S. Lewis who said: ”People make two mistakes in considering demons and demon activity: either they discount it and think nothing of it, or they become too fascinated and too pre-occupied with it.”

There is however a danger that if we dwell too long on the issue of the pigs, that we will miss the most important lesson from this story

Because the story illustrates three of the possible attitudes of people that encounter Christ.

For

1. There are those who run from him

2. There are those who tell him to go away and

3. There are those who embrace him, those whom Jesus heals and who then go out and join in the mission of the Gospel by telling others about Jesus

Let’s look at these a bit more closely

1. There are those who run from him

Those tending the pigs, when they saw the miracle, didn’t stay around to ask Jesus what was going on – but they ran in FEAR.

Sadly in this life there are those who run in fear from Christ.

They have this picture of God as a powerful vengeful God and they run in fear from him.

Some great catastrophe comes into their lives and instead of facing it, they run from Christ.

Story: It was sad to read of an Anglican vicar who having lost her daughter in the 7th July 2005 London bombings has lost her faith.

She said: “I rage that a human being could choose to take another human’s life. I rage that someone should do this is the name of a God. I am hugely offended that someone should take my daughter in the name of a religion or a God. “I certainly don’t have any sense of compassion.

“Can I forgive them for what they did? No I cannot. And I don’t wish to.

“I say the name of my daughter’s murderer every day.

“I believe there are some things in life which are unforgiveable by the human spirit.”

And she has had the integrity to stand down from her post as a vicar.

2. There are those who on meeting Christ tell him to go away

The local townspeople, when they saw the miracle of the demoniac healed, begged Jesus to go away.

I find that surprising, because my natural reaction would have been to want to hear and see more.

Contrast that with the story in John 4 of the Samaritans who came to Jesus.

Jesus met a woman at the well of Sychar and he proceeded to speak to her about many things.

However when he told her that she had had five husbands and the man she was now with wasn’t her husband, she suddenly realised that Jesus was the Messiah

When she went and told the townsfolk, they came to Jesus and listened and we read in John’s account:

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41And because of his words many more became believers. (Jn 4:39)

And finally

3. There are those who embrace him, those whom Jesus heals and who then go out and join in the mission of the Gospel by telling others about Jesus

The demoniac met Christ – and Christ healed him – and we read how he sat at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind.

But the demoniac didn’t just stop there. He wanted to be with Jesus all the time. We read

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

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