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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Fear"

My morning reading today (17 September) took me into the gospel according to Luke 8.26-39. This is the episode of the man “who had demons” (v.27) in the country of the Gerasenes. There are several connections between this story and the sea-storm that precedes it (22-25: you can read it on yesterday’s post). I’ll bring those out as we go along.

To begin, the man who had demons is quite frenetic, frenzied and frantic. He is naked, lives among the dead and decaying (tombs – v.27), and is unrestrainable, even by shackles and human force (v.29). Just as with the sea-storm, this man is raging and fuming, and his presence is threatening to others.
Then he meets Jesus and his whole way of existence changes. Once our Lord sets him free from “Legion” (v.30), there is a complete change of his manners and mental state:

“Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid” (v.35).

Just as when Jesus awoke “and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm” (v.24), so it was with this man. Jesus gave the word, and “Legion” evacuated the man’s presence taking their tumult elsewhere, leaving the man settled and calm.

Observe also the response of those who knew this man, knew his past, knew the hopelessness of his situation, once he was impossibly rescued; “they were afraid” (v.35), “they were seized with great fear” (37). Their response is the same as the disciples after the sea-storm is immediately calmed (v.25). The fact that this Jesus can do what no one else can do, is unsettling others, rattling our nerves. When you come to Jesus, recognize you are coming to the very heart of heaven, the Master of creation and all creatures. He is not to be toyed with. If you cry out to him, he may just answer your desperation and shake up your world.

Nevertheless, our Lord Jesus restores physical and mental sanity in this man’s life. The evidence that this man is now “in his right mind” is that he is finally clothed and sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet. Is your world stormy, chaotic, violently broken, smashed and threatening?  Bring your stormy world, your unruly situation, to the Lord Jesus, the only place where sanity, sobriety and stability is found. Make this true story the shape of your prayer; “Lord Jesus, as you calmed the raging seas, and restored tranquility to the demon-inhabited man; come and bring order, peace and sound-mindedness to me and my chaotic situation.”

Dominus vobiscum,


Mike

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