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Having a favorite Bible passage is as ill-advised as having a favorite child, but if I did have a favorite, this intriguing story would be a strong contender. It has everything: conflict, healing, payback, revelation, and even traveling pigs.
Read the scripture here.
Working - Preacher - Commentary
Read the Working Preacher commentary.
The story unfolds like a movie, with Jesus venturing across to “the other side.” Cue the menacing music. The gospel writer piles up the strange and unfamiliar things. Gentiles. Tombs. Pigs. And this man, possessed by the demons, is on the edge of seeming human. He has no home, no clothes, and not even a name in the story. When Jesus asks his name, the demons speak up and answer for him. Perhaps he feels so dead inside that he feels most at home in the cemetery.
Man - Layer - Oppression
This man has another layer of oppression, too.
The story says that the man formerly lived in the town, and so the nearby town knows him well. Someone must slip food to this man. Someone must draw the boundary, so he knows not to venture into the village. Someone must re-shackle him when he breaks his chains. The town has learned to accommodate this man, learned to live with his illness, and grown accustomed to his suffering. Everyone around him is working to keep him where he is. No one seems to see a bigger, better possibility for him.
Jesus - Battle - Power - God - Powers
Jesus wages a battle here, showing us again that the power of God is greater than the powers of domination, or illness, or inhumanity. The power of God is greater than the label the town puts on this man, and greater than the divide between them. An exorcism demands power greater than the demon, and the spirits that torture this man know from the very beginning that Jesus brings...
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