Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the Tombs

A cliff on the Sea of Galilee

My husband was reading to me and our children about a week ago from Luke 8:26-39.

It says in the story that when Jesus stepped out of the boat, a demon-possessed man met Him. "And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs." This man was so bad that he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demons into the wilderness. The passage in Mark 5 gives the additional information that always, night and day, he was in the mountains crying out and cutting himself with stones. And it says he saw Jesus from afar and ran and worshiped Him.

As I listened to this story which I have heard so many times, a question came to me: What do you think this man's biggest problem was? Was his biggest problem being naked? I mean, the inappropriateness of it! Look away, Christian. You don't want to be corrupted by his nakedness. In fact, maybe it would be best, Jesus, if you don't go to the Gadarenes. There's a man over there who hangs out completely naked. What will people think if You are seen with him? You're the Son of God. Consider how it will look.

Was his biggest problem that he was homeless? That he was obsessed with the dead? Was it that he was not hygienic? He was probably covered in infected bloody wounds. He needed everything. He lacked modesty -- even a basic sense of decency. He didn't have a job, because he was too busy cutting himself and screaming. He lacked friends. No one wants to remain with a person so socially retarded. But none of these things were his biggest problem. His biggest problem was not external. It wasn't the nudity, the homelessness, or the medical conditions.

He was full of demons.

And Jesus, our Hero, our Savior, came looking for him. Looking for the naked man. Looking for the homeless man. The one who stumbled over mountains screaming and gashing himself, and didn't go to synagogue. The one who couldn't be bound with the chains of society's guardians. That miserable man who was tormented by entities who hated him -- who wanted him bleeding and screaming out in pain and homeless and naked -- cold in the winter and blistered in the sun, bitten by every insect, driven to destroy himself. Maybe he did have a basic sense of decency. Maybe that was part of the torment. Maybe he was humiliated by his horrible condition. But he couldn't escape them.

I think it's interesting that seeing Jesus from afar, he ran to worship Him. I think the man was desperate. But it's strange that he begged Jesus not to torment him. Was it the demon begging, or the man? Was the man aware of his own horrific guilt? Or was the demon aware that God values His creation, and doesn't look kindly on those who torment them? If the man, especially strange. We do get twisted ideas from the enemy about what God's plans are for us. "Don't torment me!"

When the town came to see the economic damage caused by the demons (a far greater tragedy in their minds than this poor man's long suffering at their hands), it says they found him sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They had tried many times to bind him with chains that would control his offensive behavior. But Jesus cleaned up the real problem. He set him free from the terror and slavery of his life. And there the man was, at peace, at rest, coherent, and clothed. Oh, I love Jesus. He is not one to put band aids on gangrene. He fixes us from the inside out. Demons first. Clothes later.

Jesus said to the man when he begged to stay with Him, "Go home to your friends and tell them what great things God has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you." God's compassion on him was not another chain. And in the freedom he was given, his one desire was to follow Jesus. To stay with Jesus. Can't say I blame him.


Charis said...

this is so powerful. thank you.

Steadfasthope said...

Jesus loves you. (I do, too.) ;)