“So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.
When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, ‘Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!’ For Jesus had already said to the spirit, ‘Come out of the man, you evil spirit.’
Then Jesus demanded, ‘What is your name?’
And he replied, ‘My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.’ Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.
There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. ‘Send us into those pigs,’ the spirits begged. ‘Let us enter them.’
So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, ‘No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.’ So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.” – Mark 5:1-20
Talk about an entrance! Jesus gets out of the boat in a town, from what it seems, He had never been to before. When He gets off the boat, He’s met by a man with an evil spirit who recognizes who Jesus is – the Son of God. Jesus, after a brief conversation with the demon, proceeds to send the demon, or rather demons since the evil spirit declares he is many, into a herd of pigs that run down a steep hillside and drown.
What do those tending the pigs immediately see? Immediately, as if in slow-motion, all they see is those pigs heading to their death. In my mind’s eye, I can see them looking at the water where the pigs drowned and then turning to look at Jesus and thinking, “Why? Why our pigs? Did you really have to send the pigs into that water and to their deaths? I mean, that’s our livelihood!”
Their view was limited by their eyes being directed onto themselves. The man who had been healed is at most an after-thought for those tending the pigs. They seem to not even notice that a man has been healed. It is only after they run into town to tell of what had happened and a crowd of those who had not seen this series of events for themselves begin to gather around Jesus that it is even mentioned that the once-demon-possessed man is sitting there healed.
What if we move from being one of those tending the pigs to actually being the man who was healed? Once he learns that Jesus is leaving, his reaction was to follow Jesus to the boat and beg to go with Him. Was he thankful? Most likely. Did he feel some sort of unexplainable connection to Jesus because he knew that He had healed him? Probably. Was he scared because he didn’t know what the people of the village may do to him because it was the demon that had possessed him that had taken away their livelihood? Possibly. Again, just like the pig herders, his eyes were on himself.
What about us? What if we looked at the events of our lives and could not immediately see the direct impact to us. Limiting what we see and imagine as the domino effects of what we observe certainly changes our response to the overall situation.
Take that one step further. What if we practiced pulling back from a situation and instead of looking at it with the limited view of how we think it will impact our lives we tried instead to view it from God’s eyes? If we do that, we will see – maybe not immediately – how our lives are being woven together by God as He has written them. I will be the first to admit whole-heartedly that doing this is not always easy. But if we make that effort, those difficult times in our lives become not just our tests and trials but our testimonies.
And what do we do with our testimonies? We are to do as Jesus instructed the once‑demon‑possessed man to do. . .we tell others how much He has done for us and about the mercy, and grace, He has shown us.