They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it.
Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
After hearing a story of miracle right in their midst, why were people afraid? I suspect that part of their fear was because they had already had in their minds a picture of what the possessed man’s life would be. They knew him to be strange, perhaps violent. At the very least he was an outcast. After his encounter with Jesus, the man is so very different.
How frightened are we to let others grow and change and become different from the picture we have of them? How open are we to accepting someone repenting and trying to get better? How open are we to witnessing and accepting miracles like this…where someone we once thought was different and strange is now someone God is calling us to be in relationship with? Be on the lookout today for who God is calling you to see in a different light.
—Kay Gregg is the Assistant Department Chair of Campus Ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.
I know that I have created preconceived notions of some people.
I have not always allowed others to grow and change.
I have been suspicious of Jesus turning the hearts and minds of some of the people I see every day.
Please help me to see others as you see them, even if it means changing my mind.