Today’s reading: Mk 5:1-20
Today we read about Jesus healing a man possessed by demons. In fact, so many demons possess the man that when Jesus asks their name they refer to themselves as “legion”, a reference to a Roman legion consisting of at least 1,000 men (and at times up to 6,000). So many demons possess the man that he is incapable of being restrained having broken out of chains numerous times, the man lives separate from society stalking the graves and the demons cause the man to physically harm himself.
What is interesting is that despite the demons having totally possessed this man when Jesus arrives in Gerasene, the man immediately presents himself to Jesus.
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
There is no reason for the demons to do this. Thus, we can infer that it is the man who still can exercise some small degree of control over his actions who runs and falls down in front of Jesus. Further, falling down in front of Jesus is a form of non-verbal prayer. The man is so possessed that he probably can’t make his body say the words asking for Jesus to heal him. By prostrating himself he is in effect begging Jesus to heal him.
Once the man is in front of Jesus the demons immediately recognize who Jesus is and know that they will not be able to stay in the man. An interesting note is that the demons ask Jesus to not just be cast out into oblivion but to be allowed into some nearby pigs. This is in effect a prayer of the demons! And Jesus grants that prayer. It is interesting to contemplate that God even grants the prayers of demons.
Finally, take note that in this instance Jesus tells the man who has been cured to go and announce who healed him. This is in contrast to multiple other times when Jesus told people he cured to keep secret that He cured them. The difference is that Gerasene is a gentile area – as the presence of the pigs confirms. In the Jewish areas, Jesus has amassed a huge following and it is difficult for him to move about. When he cures someone in Israel He will often tell them to keep in secret, even though He knows they will only be able to do so for a short time, so that he has time to move on. It also, has the effect (probably intended) of increasing Jesus reputation and popularity even more – if you know that Jesus cured someone but you missed him when he was in your town the next time Jesus comes around you will drop whatever you are doing to go see him. Conversely, in the Gentile areas, Jesus is planting the seeds of his reputation. He will travel there on a few occasions, giving the gentiles a glimpse of himself. Then when the gospel spreads out the gentiles will know enough to be interested and there will be people around to confirm past events.
Tomorrow: Mk 5-21-43