Bible stories of hope: Legion - by James Archer
Bible stories of hope is a series comprising a reading about someone's encounter with God, some notes about how they may have seen it, and a prayer.
Reading – Mark 5:2-20
When Jesus got out of the boat, instantly a man with an evil spirit came to him from the burial caves. This man lived in the caves, and no one could tie him up, not even with a chain. Many times people had used chains to tie the man’s hands and feet, but he always broke them off. No one was strong enough to control him. Day and night he would wander around the burial caves and on the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones. While Jesus was still far away, the man saw him, ran to him and fell down before him.
The man shouted in a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I command you in God’s name not to torture me!” He said this because Jesus was saying to him, “You evil spirit, come out of the man.”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He answered, “My name is Legion, because we are many spirits.” He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on a hill near there. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us into the pigs; let us go into them.” So Jesus allowed them to do this…. Then the herd of pigs – about 2,000 of them – rushed down the hill into the lake and were drowned.
The herdsmen ran away and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed and in his right mind. And they were frightened…. Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area.
As Jesus was getting back into the boat, the man who was freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus would not let him. He said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man left and began to tell the people in the Ten Towns about what Jesus had done for him. And everyone was amazed.
Legion was completely out of control. No-one could do anything to help him. He couldn’t even ask for help. His situation was hopeless.
We don’t know why Jesus turned up. Perhaps he knew what he was heading for. More likely, he was just taking his disciples on retreat to somewhere out of the way. But God knew.
“What is your name?” What a question! All about personal relationship. Legion had almost forgotten what a conversation was – he needed to relearn some social skills, how to relate to people. By the time the townspeople got there, one of the disciples had lent him his coat and he was deep in conversation.
No wonder the people were frightened. They had seen the power of God at work. There’s nothing more powerful than proof of a changed life. They couldn’t cope with it – the implications were too much. Jesus didn’t force himself on them.
Before he left, Jesus restored Legion to his family and his society and gave him a task – to tell people what God has done for him. They would find Legion easier to relate to than Jesus – he was one of them, and they would see each day that the change was genuine.
A postscript: in Mark 6:53 and again in Mark 7:31, we read that Jesus went back there, and that the people welcomed him gladly. Well done, Legion!
Lord God, thank you for what you have done for me. Help me to show this to others through how I live and what I say. Amen
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