Today’s reflection comes from Mark 5. The title is “Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac” but that title is misleading and I will walk you through why.
In this story, Jesus and his followers are going to the other side of the sea to the country of the Gerasenes. They are going into new territory because Jesus is not confined to staying in his lane. Every BODY matters.
When they arrive, immediately upon getting off the boat, a man who lived among the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He was a man who could not be restrained anymore. The chains and the shackles that people had put on him could bind him no more! Y’all, this is clearly systemic evil and sin that had a hold on him. He was not a demoniac—the system was demonic. Now he is bruising himself with stones and howling on the mountains and people are just letting it go. They are too tired to help him in a meaningful way, because a moral creative imagination takes too much time and effort.
This man immediately goes to Jesus and asks “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Do not torment me. (v.7). The principality that had a hold on the man knew who Jesus was. It announced him accurately and knew Jesus had the power to send it away.
Here is what I love the most: Jesus, recognizing there is an unclean spirit, asks the spirit its name. He knows the only way to heal what hurts is to name it.
My name is Legion; for we are many. (v. 9)
Legion is a Roman military term. It is an evil principality that had a hold on many. Law and Order. Pax Romana. And people were comfortable with it. They let the people harmed by it cry out and ignored the pain. If you ignore it, then it does not exist, apparently. The only imagination they had for healing were shackles and chains. Peace through violence. Spiritual violence is violence. It hurts people in the same way physical wounds do, but it is invisible and there is a believed ability that spiritual wounds can be ignored. They cannot! It comes out eventually—maybe through bruising and howling.
The unclean spirits ask to be sent into the heard of swine, and permission was granted. Approximately 2,000 swine were affected by these unclean spirits and they rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned. The swineherds ran off to tell everybody.
The people came to see the man who had been infected by Legion healed and in his right mind. That made them afraid, not relieved. Their economy had been affected, and for that they sent Jesus away. No celebration for a man in his right mind now. Jesus cares more about the parts than the whole. The economy is not what Jesus is going to try to save when someone is harmed by it. The system gets crushed. Not the person.
The man wanted to leave with Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay. Share with your FRIENDS what has happened to you. And he did. He began to proclaim in Decapolis what Jesus did for him, and everyone was amazed.
Friends, I am coming to you because there is a story brewing that needs a name. Documentation is happening right now and friends are being gathered. An unjust system is leaving people in the tombs crying out, and many are just walking by. The system feels normal and the only imagination we have had—until now.
This story will have a name. Let the reader understand. Jesus did not come to save unjust systems. An unjust system is what killed him, and that is when everything changed. Rome fell. The Temple fell. People were healed and faith was restored.