Week 2 | Thursday
Week 2: Who does Jesus care about?
Jesus & a Demon-Possessed Man
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 8: 26-39
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
- As you think about this setting, what are some reasons the disciples might dismiss this as a place/person appropriate for Jesus to do ministry? What elements would you be uncomfortable with?
- What evidence is there for the destructive nature of the demon?
- What do you think the people of the region are afraid of? Why do they want Jesus to leave?
- How does Jesus demonstrate care for the demon-possessed man and for the region? Besides deliverance, what needs of the man does Jesus address?
- If you were to translate this situation into our own context, what might it look like?
- What areas/people might you dismiss or avoid as potential ministry opportunities? Why?
- It might be appropriate to begin a conversation with Jesus today with thanksgiving for his love and care for people that goes beyond the borders that we are usually comfortable with. Perhaps you could pray for someone whom you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to, knowing that there are no barriers for Jesus.
- Do you have any stories about reaching out to or interacting with someone that felt “risky” or uncomfortable for you? What did you learn about yourself, or about God?
As long as they are physically with Jesus, the disciples are ready to go anywhere he leads. This 3 years together must have been amazing! When Jesus ascends to the Father, His followers must learn to depend on the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit. I remember when Terrie and I were called to Cohoes it was out of our comfort zone. The Spirit clearly led us as we began our life journey. I am so thankful!
Years ago, when we lived in NJ, a man named Chuck showed up at church. He had wheeled himself in a wheelchair nearly a mile to get there. So after church I offered him a ride home. This began a complex, very challenging, relationship that lasted over a year. It turned out Chuck was dying of HIV/AIDS. Eventually, he did die. But along the way he met Jesus and I am confident we will be reunited one day in heaven. Chuck was way outside my comfort zone. But getting to know him was a powerful, life-changing experience that I am profoundly grateful for. Jesus has such compassion for people like Chuck and the man in today's story.
This story is one I've heard and read many times, but this is the first time anyone explained that the setting was in Gentile territory. Now the pigs make sense!
It reminds me of New Orleans, where we visited only once. AJ was really not a fan--he had an uncomfortable feeling the whole time we were there (maybe because we had to call AAA to get the keys out of the car, but that's another story 😆).
I was fascinated by the graves all sitting on the ground, instead of being properly buried, but definitely in a creepy, scary-movie way. Something about the spirit of that place felt heavy and "unclean".
This must have been how the disciples felt in the Gerasenes, but still, they stood with Jesus. It's my prayer to always stand with Jesus, even in places or with people that make me personally uncomfortable.
For a modern equivalent, my mind goes toward the homeless, who are often dealing with mental illness as well. But even as I say that, I realize I am lumping together a whole variety of people into one category which doesn't reflect their individual stories and struggles. My fears reflect what others have said before--that involvement feels scary because it will demand too much of me. One interesting aspect of this story is that Jesus takes care of this man, but doesn't then adopt him for life--he sends him back to his own community where he must have a family and others who know him. Jesus must have known what was best for him, whereas I get stuck on what I think is best for me. Lord, help my unbelief!