Could You Repeat That Please? - Value of Human Life
As his feet hit the shores from the Ship transporting Him and His disciples to the country of Gadarenes, Jesus faced the likes of a wildman believed to have an evil spirit possessing him.
Absurd as it is now, those people had no concept of psychological disorders and such, so if a person behaved strangely, as did this man, the diagnoses was possession. Even by modern standards, the average person would wonder if that man had some demon tormenting him!
Living in the tombs and mountain area near the shore, this man became a public nuisance at best and a monster at most. The locals attempted to chain him up, but he wiggled free. Bands around his hands and feet proved ineffective because he burst them asunder. Howling and shrieking in the mountains and tombs every day and night, this man became community legend, a part of the natural order of things, things with which no one dared tamper any further unless they wanted to have a few slices on the arms from the stones he used to carve himself up.
This inhuman beast stood a few sketches away on the path Jesus tread with his followers that day. From there tending spot, a dozen or so men saw the group of men plodding up the dusty road towards the city when the beast man stood before them on the path.
"This ought to be interesting," one of the tenders of swine indicated to another, possibly something similar. "Beast is known to give the tourist from across the sea some frazzle."
Come Out! Come Out, Whoever Your Are!
Swine squealed and wallowed in the muddy soil near the mountains as the herders perched on a rock, the ground, and anywhere else to enjoy the show to distract away from the monotony of their task.
Frozen in the roadway, Beast regarded the approaching group. Snickering with anticipation, the pig tenders awaited the show. See, Beast had become such an attraction for the city that the town supported his behavior to an extent. Beast never bothered the pig tenders and other townsfolk but was a curiosity, circus attraction who had become as much a part of the identity of Gadarenes as the mountains and the shore. There grew a fondness for his howls daily giving fame to the otherwise average community.
Standing still for moments building the tension in the herders, Beast opened his mouth for the shrieking wildness they expected--worth the risk of leaving the steep shore which separated the sea from the swine.
The leader of this group on the road addressed Beast, saying, "Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit." 1
Familiar with others who also used methods to cure Beast, this was nothing new to the herdsmen. What would be new is how Beast would punish them for daring to engage.
"Poor fools," one of the herdsmen possibly shaking his head and snickering to the others. "What is Beast going to do?"
No sound left the wildman's lips, however. An exciting fear filled the herdsmen as Beast burst into a full sprint towards the group of people who had wisely halted in confusion it appeared. The herdsmen stood not knowing what to do since Beast was known to be dangerous. Glad it was not them, the pig tenders watched as Beast flew at their leader cringing to know where he would cut Him first.
"What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God," 2 came the words out of Beast's mouth as he revered and prostrated himself in a full dive before that Man.
"What," went the sentiment among the herdsmen all at once. Beast spoke! Beast does not speak! He screams, cuts and menaces!
"I adjure thee by God," Beast continued, "that thou torment me not." 2
Some of the pig herders had fallen to the ground others stood dumbfounded at what had happened to this known beast of a man! Not only had he spoken in articulate language, but he also carried on a conversation with a Stranger whose name that he Knew!
When Pigs Die
Murmuring in shocked confusion, the herdsmen wondered who was this man, Jesus that He could tame the Beast to speak. Was he a devil himself come to torment them? This Jesus asked Beast his name, speaking to the demon directly.
"Legion," he said. What kind of name is Legion the on-lookers wondered? "For we are many." 3
Standing at this point, the pig herders knew that something horrible was brewing when Beast made mention of this legion of devils going into the herd of pigs. As long as the "fun" was not directed toward them it was fun!
This Jesus gave permission.
Excuse me, could you repeat that, the herdsmen thought. How are you going to give permission for these demons to go into somebody else's property? 4
Jesus gave permission to the devils to go into the hogs because what happened next horrified everyone. The hogs let out squeals like none they have ever! Nails scraping a chalkboard mixed with screaming high-pitched infants filled the air echoing through the mountains. Hogs started behaving erratically, spinning in circles, wagging their heads back and forth as if something was eating them from the inside.
Pounding their hooves in place for an instant, the animals fled away from their wallowing spot toward the sea, with none to stop them since all the herdsmen awestricken did not return to their posts to deter them.
Voices seemed to come from the animals, human voices as they crashed into the sea, drowning in the frothy spume made by flailing bodies of expiring swine.
Herdsmen scrabbled away in fear of the new terror! Jesus the Mad who drove evil spirits into the bodies of swine. Into the city they ran to tell their charges and the townsfolk of Beast, Jesus, and the dead pigs.
In a large body, the citizens raced to where Jesus and His disciples rested. There they saw Beast sitting in a human manner behaving like a human. Also, the bodies of the dead swine began to wash ashore at the bottom of the steep places, a thing which gripped them in fear of Jesus.
Fearfully the leaders begged that Jesus spare their cities and not enter in less some horror befalls them. As demanded, Jesus entered again into the ship leaving a reluctant man that used to be called Beast to tell his countrymen the goodness of the Lord in freeing him from the legion of devils.
Why did He have to let them go into the pigs and kill 2000 of the city's livestock?
After some research and meditation, the answer came from Fr. Thomas Hopko. Wrote he:
...we in this fallen world are so used to our crazy people, we’re used to our madness, but we want our pigs; we want our life; we want to do what we want to do. Therefore we don’t want Jesus. 5
Under the law of Moses, swine are unclean animals. The city of supposed Hebrew people tended swine--possibly for the Romans. Losing that livelihood was no small matter. Was that Jesus' way of helping them live their faith? Telling someone that he or she needs to change brings with it resistance. Luckily the demon-possessed man would be there to witness of his freedom from the clutches of darkness. If he can be freed from such a place, then so can others who are not so consumed.
The worth of a man's soul is valued at more than 2000 pigs at least and the life of the only begotten Son of God at most. Jesus willing paid so that all humanity can repent of their sins and also rise from the dead in the resurrection. Why allow the demons into the pigs?
A conjectural reason is that Hebrews should not have tended the swine, so Jesus allowed the unclean spirits to depart and enter them. This action killed off the swine, which helped the Hebrews rid themselves of the unclean animals under the Law of Moses, a law that was still valid since Jesus had not effected the atonement at that time.
Jesus was not at His judgment that will come in the distant future, so He did not send them to the abyss. Revelations details many things that need to happen before that judgment. The demons did not want to leave the area, but they HAD to leave that man! Jesus allowed them into the pigs and the pigs killed themselves. It is proof to Demons and humanity that those spirits have no place in mortal bodies. The herders lost their jobs, the city lost its property, and the moral of this tale to the citizens of the city is to keep the Law of Moses.
Holy Bible - Mark 5:8 1
Holy Bible - Mark 5:7 2
Holy Bible - Mark 5:9 3
Thomas Hopko - The Demons and the Swine 5
© 2019 Rodric Anthony Johnson