Scripture reading for October 15th: Mark 4-7
We who love Jesus can’t envision asking Him to depart from us! And Jesus wants to be with us as well! He came to earth to seek out and save lost people. (Luke 19:10) In our reading today, Jesus was on a mission that required crossing the Sea of Galilee with His disciples to find a very lost person.
After ministering to a crowd all day, Jesus told His disciples that they should go to the other side of the lake. They got in boats and Jesus got in the stern, found a cushion and went to sleep. As they crossed the lake in the night, a furious wind arose that threatened to swamp the boat. The disciples excitedly woke Jesus, pleading for help. Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and a calm suddenly fell upon them. He chastened them for their fear and lack of faith. (Mark 4:35-41)
When they got across the lake, a man with an evil spirit came from among some tombs to meet Jesus. He had chains on his hands and feet and looked like a madman. As He saw Jesus, he ran to Him and fell on his knees begging not to be tortured. The man’s name was “Legion” because of the large number of demons in him. As Jesus rebuked the evil spirits, they entered a herd of over 2000 pigs, causing them to rush over a cliff into the sea and drown!
The man was delivered, set free from the bondage, and in his right mind! (Mark 4:14-17) The people of the region, who depended on the pigs for their sustenance, were terrified and angry. They came to Jesus and asked Him to leave their region. Mark records that Jesus got into the boat to leave, and the delivered man asked to come along. Jesus sent him back to tell others in the region what the Lord had done for him.
As we reflect on this story, we are first reminded of how Jesus loves and cares for His own disciples. He’s always with us, even when we think He might be sleeping! Second, Jesus loves to find someone who needs help. He will go through water, storm, and forces of hell to reach a needy soul. Last, those who are into themselves are threatened by Jesus’ presence. May the Lord give us more insight into His marvelous grace!
Scripture reading for January 9th: Matthew 8, Psalm 7:1-9, Proverbs 2:12-15
Jesus had just left a fruitful place of ministry in Capernaum in Peter’s house where he healed many sick and cast out numerous demons. The Holy Spirit led Jesus to cross the Sea of Galilee to a region known as Gadarenes. This was Gentile territory and the people there raised lots of pigs. But it wasn’t for the pigs that Jesus went!
On His way there with the disciples, they encountered a severe storm on the water that threatened to capsize their boat. Even the experienced fishermen among the group were frantic, and awoke Jesus from his sleep in the bow of the boat. Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm and a great calm settled over the sea. He also rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. (Matthew 8:24-27) They were amazed at His authority and wondered who He really was.
Upon arrival, the disciples and Jesus were greeted by two men who were demon possessed. These men came out of a cemetery and spoke directly to Jesus, addressing Him as the “Son of God”. It is interesting to note that the devil knew Jesus and recognized Him when the disciples were still wondering! These evil spirits also knew that Jesus had authority over them and begged Jesus to at least send them into a large herd of pigs grazing nearby. Jesus did not dialogue with these spirits, but simply said, “Go!” Their exodus caused the pigs to rush headlong over a steep bank into the sea and all were drowned.
Mark tells the story in a little different manner giving more details than Matthew. Mark tells of one man whose name was “Legion” for the many demons in him. Mark also numbers the pigs, saying that there were nearly 2000 in that herd! As Jesus was leaving, the man who was delivered begged to follow Jesus in his boat, but Jesus sent him back to share with his family and the region what God had done for him. (Mark 5:11-20)
The saddest part of this story is the people of that town’s reaction to this man’s deliverance. They came to Jesus and begged Him to leave their region! The loss of their pigs was more important than the freedom of one or two souls from the devil’s grasp! How would you respond if you were a character in this story?