SIX THOUSAND TO ONE


Jesus encountered many monsters in his travels. They were people who came to be known as the blind, the crippled, the deaf and the demoniacs.


Mark 5:
1They arrived in the territory of the Gerasenes on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. 2As Jesus stepped out of the boat, a man came out of the tombs and met him. The man was controlled by an evil spirit 3and lived among the tombs. No one could restrain him any longer, not even with a chain. 4He had often been chained hand and foot. However, he snapped the chains off his hands and broke the chains from his feet. No one could control him. 5Night and day he was among the tombs and on the mountainsides screaming and cutting himself with stones.


There was no concrete and steel enclosure to house this one. He had an unearthly strength that could break free of restraints. He was a cutter. He lived among the tombs and was completely anti-social.

Where do the monsters go when there is no place in the community for them? This tortured soul lived on the edge with one foot always in the grave. He is the picture of disconnect. There are no meaningful relationships and no sane way to function as part of the community.

What inspired Jesus to come to this non-Jewish locale? This was an area that Jews avoided because it was inhabited by the ‘unholy dogs’ they called Gentiles. If this was an unclean place, the tombs were even more so. The demonized man was completely defiled and certainly regarded as an evil monster.

Who are monsters in our city? Who are we afraid of and expel from the community? If we do not know who they are, it is because we never knew them. We have sufficiently shielded ourselves from the ones who cannot be restrained.


Mark 5:
 6The man saw Jesus at a distance. So he ran to Jesus, bowed down in front of him, 7and shouted, “Why are you bothering me now, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me.” 8He shouted this because Jesus said, “You evil spirit, come out of the man.”
 9Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
   He told Jesus, “My name is Legion [Six Thousand], because there are many of us.” 10He begged Jesus not to send them out of the territory.
 11A large herd of pigs was feeding on a mountainside nearby. 12The demons begged him, “Send us into the pigs! Let us enter them!”

As Jesus encounters the troubled man, he throws caution to the wind. Instead of telling the boys to rush back into the boat, he yells up into the tombs telling the evil spirit to leave this man. The mission of Jesus is not one of fearful retreat, but courageous advancement into darkness.

In the perplexing condition of good vs. evil, the will of the man and the will of the evil within struggle for dominance. This terrified creature runs to Jesus when confronted. The man that still existed bowed while the six thousand dark forces trembled in God’s presence. They had no control when real authority came on the scene.

I am not going to pretend to understand what happened next. The destructive forces needed to escape and ask to enter a herd of pigs. Suddenly there is a squealing stampede rushing down the hill. The pigs rush to their death by drowning.

What I find significant is the degree of torment that a human can experience. 6000 evil urges controlled this man and he was still alive. In a herd of lesser creatures, the destructive tendencies immediately resulted in death.

Maybe the most tortured soul still has enough of the Imago Dei (image of God) resident to keep going one more tortured day. Could it be that suicide is ultimately a statement of rebellion against the foreign invaders that have ravaged the soul? We may be wrong in always assuming that suicide is an act of defiance towards God. It may in fact be the human part demanding rest. We might best leave that judgment to the true Judge.

The French poet Charles Baudelaire said, “Oh, Creator! Can monsters exist in the sight of him who alone knows how they were invented, how they invented themselves, and how they might not have invented themselves?” [i]

There are no monsters in God’s eyes, only troubled men.

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