Summary: A series on where a person can turn for help with various problems
Ever since the fall, everything in the universe has been turned on its head! Nothing is as it was supposed to be. Relationships that once were perfect in intimacy became complicated by selfishness and pride. Instead of living forever, our physical bodies began to deteriorate, and our relationship with God was severed as soon as sin entered the world. In essence, everything we see and experience is not as it is supposed to be – and as much as we accept the present reality as truth – we are deceived.
As we start this series we have to keep this in mind. Whether we’re looking at parenting, how we handle our finances, or whether we’re looking at the dynamics of grief or depression – everything was affected by the Fall. Maybe most significantly impacted was our relationship with God. Even our perceptions of who He is have been adversely affected.
Before the Fall God was the source of life, the sustainer of life, the giver of purpose - and after the fall we began to view Him as nothing more than the judge and jury – the One who desired not to bless us but to condemn us! Throughout this series we hope to reverse some of your perceptions of God and the problems that you cope with. I want you to hear what God wants to say to you where you are and not what your fallen perception tells you God is saying. We want to turn things back on their feet again – back where they were intended to be so that we can hear the truth!
Today we’re going to look at a story from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5 that captures this what has happened to us since the fall, but also it pictures where we should turn to restore the proper order of things.
This story is included in 3 of the 4 Gospels, so it’s obviously a story that God wants us to understand. I would invite all of you to turn there in your Bibles – feel free to use the one in the chair in front of you. In fact, if you don’t have a Bible that is easy to read, I would invite you to take the Bible that is in the chair in front of you as a gift from us. It is the New Living Translation, which is as accurate as it is easy to read.
In the opening verses meet the main character of our story. “So they (that is Jesus and his disciples) arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him.” (Mark 5:2)
This was a pretty unusual greeting party here. Jesus and the disciples pull up to the shore in their boats and they are greeted by someone coming out of the graveyard. Already we know that this is probably going to be interesting. In the first place as they step to shore the disciples have to be a little leery. They were Jewish and a graveyard was no place for a good Jewish person to be!
In the Jewish culture, graveyards aren’t what they are today. Bonnie and I used to live near City Park – and I never really thought of it as odd until I read this passage and starting thinking about the culture of their day. When Derek was young we used to go to City Park 3 or 4 times a week so Derek could play on the playground, or to ride the Pokey Smokey or to have a picnic lunch and feed the ducks or whatever. It’s such a beautiful park – but you have to drive through the cemetery to get there! Have you ever thought about that? Kind of strange!
That never would have happened in the Jewish culture. I mean, a cemetery was off limits! If you touched even the tombstone of a dead person you were considered ceremonially unclean for a full day. It was off limits. So that no one could accidentally get “unclean” they would place the cemeteries on the extreme edges of town. They probably weren’t the well groomed well presented places that we think of when we think of graveyards!
This man that greeted them wasn’t just passing through the cemetery though – he was a resident! Look at verses 3-5 with me: “This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.”