Summary: After healing the demoniac, Jesus sent the demons into the pigs who ran into the sea and drown. Those who watched seem more concerned about the pigs than about the healing of this man. A microcosm of today????
PIGS OR PEOPLE; SWINE OR SOULS
* Chapter 5 is very interesting. It contains 43 verses with 2 major stories. Each of these stories, as we’ll come to see, has a ‘story in a story’. It is the kind of narrative which escapes the casual or superficial reader. Certainly the healing of the demoniac was a miracle of major proportions. Yet, Jesus still got into trouble with society because, like most, His work didn’t fit their desires.
* Taking this ‘story within the story’, we cut away the fat and go for the jugular of reality. Because Mark has reveals or exposes the things many desire to hide. As I read this text, my mind always runs to one question, “Pigs or People, which one are we more interested in?” Swine or souls?
* This message comes down to one word; focus or even ‘priority.’ Our focus or priority is revealed by what it is that we protect, that we promote, and that we preserve. For instance, the focus of many lives concerned their making of money & protecting that money for retirement. And they’ll do that at all cost. For others they protect their leisure time. In 1990, George Barna released the book “The Frog in the Kettle” which has a complete chapter telling us (churches) to not try to mess with the leisure time of America because they had a high price tag on it.
* You can name what it is that you focus on: (Activities, hobbies, vocation, avocation, etc)
* To unpack this story & lesson is to admit that Christ has one focus and the culture has another, But the question really is: Which one to we honestly align with?
1) THE Focus of the Christ – This is easy, Jesus was, is, and always will be focused on the souls of men. Rarely does He allow anything to distract His focus. He came with the purpose of seeking & saving the lost. He began His ministry with this thought, lived His life with this thought, & died because this was His thought, purpose, priority, and focus.
* You can take any situation which Jesus faced, and His focus always prevailed. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, or the woman who anointed Jesus feet are all examples of Jesus looking beyond the niceties of culture and see their soul. When He saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion because it was obvious to Him that these people had no relationship with the Father and thus had no sense of direction toward eternity. He saw Jerusalem and wept over the entire city like a ‘mother hen’ weeps for her young. Everywhere He went and every person He met, He viewed in eternal terms. Their status in society mattered little – the rich young rule, Nicodemus, and Zacheeus all were given the same treatment from Jesus, yet 2 of the three walked away. (And Jesus let them go because they loved the world more than they loved God. As an aside, He bore witness to the deep commitment of the widow.
* In our story, stepping off the boat on the ‘other side’, Jesus was immediately face to face with an evil, demon possessed man who lived in the graveyard & slept nightly on the rotting flesh of the dead. This man was controlled by demons, he had the stench of death on him, his clothes were likely ripped, torn, and filthy. He wasn’t approachable or presentable. But our Loving Lord Jesus did see this man like he was. He didn’t focus on the odor, the dress, or even the offensive manner which he had. Jesus saw this man as created in the image of the Father, in fact, this man was a part of the Father’s Crown Creation. Yes realistically, he was full of the devil, but Jesus saw him as one who could be redeemed. (NOTE: Jesus was even compassionate to the demons as he honored their wishes) Jesus didn’t see this man as he was, but what he could be.
* How easy would it have been for Jesus to see that man as too far gone for redemption & grace? Jesus is in the cleansing business, that is what He does & yes He was & is willing to sacrifice pigs for a person. The demons asked to go into the pigs. The power of demons? 1000 demons versus 2000 pigs equal ½ demons per pigs. Yet all the pigs died. What does that say?
* The focus of Jesus remained on the man and not the animal. Think about it & compare:
2) THE Focus of the Crowd– Now the story gets interesting & revealing. The demon-possessed man is now “FREE!” The demons are gone, the man is healed, and he is sitting with Jesus. WOW!! That is glorious! Right! Everyone is happy right? Well, not so fast.