Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac
Visual Commentary and Resources
The ancient world believed that the wind and the violent waves were the gods of chaos. This scene is more than a story of how Jesus has power over nature. This is a reenactment of Genesis 1:1 when the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the deep. God, in Jesus now, brings order out of chaos.
Jesus has crossed over to the region of the Gentiles. The decapolis–literally “the ten cities”–is a forbidden place for a Jewish rabbi.
There are so many layers of symbolism happening in this story. The demon is named Legion, for they are many inside this poor man. A Legion is the term used to describe a group of one thousand Roman soldiers. It is hard to believe that this was not a direct political statement on the part of Mark.
The Legion asks to be thrown into the pigs, a herd of unclean animals, according to Jewish custom. These animals are thrown into the very sea that Jesus just calmed.
Do you remember another time when God allowed an Imperial army to be drown in the sea that God had just mastered (hint: it’s Exodus)?
The people don’t know what to do with Jesus and the newly healed man. They thought this man was beyond hope. Jesus just devastated an entire herd of swine, which was someone’s livelihood.
The healing power of Jesus, both at the personal level and the systemic level, is disruptive. Many people just want to go back to Egypt (again, see Exodus). The newly healed man wants to go with Jesus. He doesn’t belong in this place.
Jesus tells him to stay and to turn his story into a proclamation to the Gentiles that the Kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe the Good News (see Mark 1;15).
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