JESUS AMONG THE GADARENES
- PART 1.

Mark here gives us another account of Jesus deliberately choosing to go into non-Jewish territory. This time he instructs his disciples to take their boat across the lake to the far shore, which was the region of the Decapolis. Jewish relations with the people of the Decapolis don’t seem to have been as tense and conflicted as those with the Samaritans, probably because the history between the two communities was less fraught. But because the cities of the Decapolis had a strong Greek influence, having been established in the reign of Alexander the Great, their way of life and cultural assumptions were very offensive to Jewish sensibilities. Though the Sea of Galilee is never wider that 13Kms, the Galilean Jews kept their distance from the people on the other side of the lake.

Jesus, however, chooses to go there, and, just as with the Samaritan woman at the well, he seems to have a “divine appointment” with a specific person. Just as with the woman at the well, this single interpersonal engagement has the effect of unlocking an apparently resistant community to the message of the Kingdom of God. This is even more surprising given that both these people for whom Jesus came were marginalized and outcast members of their respective communities. At the same time, they were well known to their fellow townsfolk, so that the dramatic change in them would have been unmistakably apparent and their testimony to Jesus as the source of their transformation would be listened to with attention.

Why did Jesus choose these people on the fringes of their cultural groups? Perhaps because people on the margins don’t have the luxury of being too heavily invested in social divisions or clinging too tightly to prejudice. Their position of humility within their own group makes them less protective and assertive of their cultural distinctiveness and more open to simple, direct human encounter.

So we come to the scene where Jesus and his disciples step onto the shore and are immediately confronted with this wild out-of-control man rushing towards them. It pictures the sense of threat that so often comes with stepping onto culturally foreign territory. What is strikingly apparent, however, is the calmness of Jesus. He is secure in his authority within the Kingdom of God and no threat from the devil has any power to shake him.

Another surprising thing is that, though he is on a foreign shore, the demons within the man recognise him as “Son of the Most High God”. I get the impression that their recognition of Jesus translated to the understanding of the afflicted man. Just as the woman at the well was the unlikely one who first recognised Jesus as Messiah, so something similar is happening here. Equally, there is a sense that, just as Jesus completely knew that woman and saw the true longing of her heart, so he does with this man. In seeing each of them with compassion and recognition of their inherent value, Jesus has the potential to free them from what holds them in bondage and heal and transform their lives. That is the power of grace that comes with seeing people through the eyes of Jesus.
 


Rob Taylor, 03/09/2020

 

Christ Church Kenilworth  |  Cnr Summerley & Richmond Road  |  Tel: +27 (021) 797 6332  | E-mail: reception@cck.org.za
Service Times: Sunday Worship  8.00am, 10.00am & 6.30pm  |  Wednesday Service: 10am   | Tuesday Quiet Service: 6.30pm (fortnightly)

Taryn Galloway, 06/05/2015