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Monday, June 6, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 8:28–34
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (NRSV)
This passage contains a story which does not seem to relate to our lives. Not only do we not typically run across cliffside herds of swine, we also do not regularly encounter people possessed by demons. Seems like there isn’t much in this passage that relates to life in the twenty-first century.
Of course, the Bible is full of stories that are far removed from our daily modern lives, and it can be difficult to determine what we are to take from them. Some of the commentaries I consulted suggested that the point of this story is to show Jesus’ power over nature and demons. Okay, so if he has power over nature (as evidenced in the immediately preceding passage about Jesus calming the storm on the sea of Galilee) and can cast demons out of the possessed, maybe the problems I need Jesus’ help with are also under his power. Now that is an amazing thought.
The truth is that we are always in need of the love and power of Christ in our lives. The promise of the gospel is that God will abide with us and that we can rely on God’s power as we deal with the variety of issues that we face in this life. Whatever our need, Jesus can handle it and he is there for us. That is the remarkable truth of our life in Christ.
This story ends in an unusual way. In most stories of Jesus performing miracles, people are thrilled and ask him to perform additional acts of healing and help. I am reminded of the group of friends who, unable get through the crowd, lowered their lame friend on his pallet through the ceiling of a house in order to get him in front of Jesus for healing. Here, though, the townspeople ask Jesus to leave. Are they afraid of this great power? Do they value the material things of life (the herd of swine) more than they value the gift of life that Jesus offers? Perhaps. Let us not be like those people but let us embrace the power of Jesus in our lives.
Dear Lord, help me to embrace your power to help me in this life. Give me the words to request your help and the humility to accept it. Thank you for your transforming work in the world and grant us your grace and peace. Amen.
Written by Juli Crabtree, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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