Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lenten Reading Mark 5:1-20

Mark 5: 1-20

OOPS! It looks like I made a teeny-weeny mistake when I suggested you finish reading at verse 13. The story of the Gerasene Demoniac concludes at verse 20. My bad.

No that we’ve gotten that out of the way, does it seem strange to you that no advocates for pig farmers in this story? I’m guessing that’s because pigs were considered filthy creatures (they do, after all, like to roll around in their own crapulence), and Jews were forbidden to eat them.

However, this wasn’t a Jewish area (why would there be pig farmers working on Jewish land?). Also, this man, living on Gentile land, foaming at the mouth, howling at the moon, and living in the cemetery was doubly unclean, since graveyards were considered unclean.

Some say that the man represented Israel being overcome by the evil forces of the Roman empire. Other suggest that the man represents the evil of sin and death that keeps us in bondage.

Maybe its both. “At the climax of Mark’s story Jesus himself will end up naked, isolated, outside the town among the tombs, shouting incomprehensible things as he is torn apart on the cross by the standard Roman torture, his flesh torn to ribbons by the small stones in the Roman lash. And that, Mark is saying, will be how the demons are dealt with. That is how healing takes place. Jesus is coming to share the plight of his people, to let the enemy do the worst to him, to take the full force of evil on himself and let the others go free.

“This story shows that underneath the pain and injustice of political enslavement there is a spiritual battle. Leave that out and you simply go round the endless cycle of violence and counter-violence. Mark see Jesus’ kingdom-movement, which reached its climax in his death, as the means by which all earthly powers are brought to heel, even though the messengers of the kingdom may suffer in the process. Those who follow Jesus are now to put into practice the victory he achieved” (NT Wright, Mark for Everyone).

How are you putting into practice the victory Jesus has achieved for you?

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