Devotional: June 24, 2020
They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.
When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)
Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”
He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.
Mark 5: 1-10 The Message
It is hard to talk about politics in a politically divided and polarized world, so I don’t do so very often.
However, I was saddened to see ropes and graffitti around some of the statues in Washington, D. C. Protesters wanted to remove them. While I understand the debate about the best place to locate some statues, they are a form of art, painstakingly carved by sculptors. The protestors want to make things better. Yet their emotions and anger seem senselessly out of control. It is as though the rioting mobs have lost their original vision.
And then, believe it or not, I randomly decided to look at Mark 5, not even remembering exactly which stories about Jesus it contained. What story appeared? The one about the Madman, named Legion in some translations. Only here, in the Message translation, he is named Mob, saying, “I’m a rioting mob.” Wow!
The man Legion or “Mob” had been tormented for years with an evil spirit living within him. No one had known what to do with his destruction, for they could not control him when he had fits of rage. Now I am not implying that the mobs we are watching on the news are full of evil spirits. Frankly, there are many issues of injustice which need to be addressed, but uncontrollable rage has taken over. Some are unable to quiet themselves.
Only Jesus was able to remove the evil spirits in Legion so he could have his life back. The process Jesus used to remove the evil spirits after they begged for mercy was unusual. He sent them into a nearby herd of pigs, which then ran into the water and drowned. The spirits were destroyed! Yet this upset the pig owners, and they asked Jesus to leave their town.
So, how did the anger and rage get removed? Through Jesus. He was the only one who could remove the rioting mob of evil spirits from this poor man’s life.
Before Jesus departs, he talks with the Legion (who probably had a different name originally), in a calm manner. He encourages him to remain in his community. Legion wanted to travel with Jesus, but Jesus knew that Legion needed to stay there, to heal relationships, and to share his amazing testimony.
Here are the words Jesus used:
Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Mark 5: 19-20
Peace is always possible. The Prince of Peace is able to bring peace even to one who called himself Mob, as in “rioting mob.” As we pray for our country, let us pray with the knowledge that our Lord is powerful enough to calm every storm, and to quiet every angry heart. Let us pray for God's peace in our troubled world, and especially for those people who need the assurance of Christ’s love.
We thank you for Your courage, Your wisdom, and Your peace, which you bring to every troubled individual, and every conflicted situation. May You pour out Your peace upon our world, and our nation. Let Your peace reign over our conflicts. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.