14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17Then they began to beg Jesus* to leave their neighborhood. 18As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19But Jesus* refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ 20And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Continuing our discussion – I have always gotten hung up when reading or hearing this story in the pigs. After all, what did the poor pigs do? But remembering that the pigs were unclean, and therefore worthless as farm animals, to the Jews with Jesus, we have to go past that to see the rest of the story. The irony here is that the “unclean spirits” begged Jesus to let them go into the “unclean” pigs, but that turned out to be their destruction, for the maddened pigs rushed into the water. When our focus is on getting our own way (following our own will rather than God’s) it sometimes leads us into our own destruction.
But, of course, those who had seen what had happened, those whose job it was to take care of the pigs, rushed to the town to tell the owners of the pigs what had happened. And the people from the town came out to see – and they saw the man who had been crazy, or possessed, (depending on your world view), dressed and sitting calmly at Jesus’ feet. They saw Jesus’ power, but it frightened them. They had suffered a monetary loss, and that also frightened them. And so, they begged Jesus to leave the region – and he went and got into the boat to leave. Jesus’ power for our lives can be awe inspiring, and the difference between awe and fear can be small – in their fear, the people of this region asked Jesus to leave, refused to make room for him in their hearts. They also got what they asked for – Jesus left as they asked; and as a result they missed out on the greatest thing God had ever done.
The man who had been mad (or possessed) came to Jesus and asked to go with him. He did not get what he asked for – Jesus told him to go back home and tell his family and friends what had happened to him. And he did that; he proclaimed the good news of Jesus throughout the region. He asked for something, but Jesus said no – God has a bigger plan for you. Follow God’s will and not your own. When we choose to follow God’s will, we often do not get what we think we want, but God’s will takes us into something far better – we just don’t know about it when we make our request!
The photo shows a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and the distant shore where Jesus and the disciples had gone over to the other side.