“Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.”
Luke 8:32-33 NRSV
This week’s devotional is written by Rev. Mark Roberts and can be found at this link: https://depree.org/series/following-jesus-today/#part39
Today’s Life for Leaders devotion comes from one of the more curious and unsettling stories in the Gospels. The story begins after a scary boat trip from the western side of the Sea of Galilee to the eastern side. This trip, as you may recall, involved Jesus sleeping soundly during a giant storm. Then, having been roused by his disciples, Jesus commanded the storm to stop and it did, much to the puzzled wonder of the disciples.
When Jesus and his retinue arrived on the eastern side of the Sea, they encountered a man tormented by demons. Jesus commanded the spirit to leave the man, but it put up a fight, begging not to be sent to the abyss. Rather, they asked to enter a nearby herd of pigs. Then Jesus did a most surprising thing. Appearing to accept the demons’ appeal – there turned out to be many demons who had possessed the man – Jesus gave the demons permission to enter the pigs. When they did this, however, the herd rushed down into the Sea of Galilee and drowned.
Now, when the people of that area heard what happened, they were none too happy. After all, Jesus had been responsible for the death of a herd of pigs, thus depriving people both of food and their livelihood. It’s no surprise that they asked Jesus to leave, especially given his peculiar engagement with evil spirits.
When I was younger, this story disturbed me. I was happy enough that Jesus delivered a man from demonic bondage, but I just couldn’t understand why he let the demons enter the herd of pigs. When telling this story, the Gospel of Mark mentions that 2,000 pigs had been killed. This seemed terribly unfair to the owner of the herd. I fretted about why Jesus did such an odd and apparently unkind thing.
I don’t think we can know exactly what motivated Jesus to let the demons enter the herd of pigs. Speculations about Jesus’s intentions cannot be verified in this case since the Gospels do not tell us why Jesus acted as he did. But one thing is sure: Jesus valued the wholeness of the demonized man so much that he was willing to put 2,000 pigs at risk. Jesus appeared to be willing to sacrifice the herd so that a man might be set free from his bondage and live as a free man.
This unusual story in Luke 8 reaffirms what we see throughout the Gospel. Jesus is deeply committed to the wholeness of people, not just physical wholeness, but complete wholeness in body, soul, mind, and relationships. Apparently, no cost is too great for a broken person to be made whole. Indeed, Jesus will ultimately give up his own life so that you and I might be made whole.
What is the cost of wholeness? It’s exorbitant. What’s the value of wholeness? It’s inestimable.
Reflect: How do you respond to the actions of Jesus in this story?
How have you experienced freedom and wholeness through Jesus?
Is there anything in your life from which you need to be set free today?
Act: Take some time to thank the Lord for all the ways he has healed you, making you whole.
Summer Break: Sunday School & Music Ministries
This is just a reminder that after June 19th, our children’s Sunday School and various music ministries will be starting their summer hiatus. Thank you to everyone who has participated and led in these special ministries at our church.
Pastor Chris Vacation
Pastor Chris will be on vacation from June 20th to the 27th. Our Lay Leader, Bruce LaPenta will be preaching on June 26th.
Laura and John Newton want to make the congregation aware of an upcoming marriage seminar. The Frinks, a couple who has led marriage workshops at FUMC before, are offering a Focus on the Family marriage workshop this June 24-25th at their home church, which will be open to any couples who want to attend from our church. Their church is called The Blue Church, a non-denominational church located at 940 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, PA. (West of Philadelphia). There are hotels in the area such as a Days Inn, if someone wanted to stay over. The Newton’s are going and will be facilitating break-out groups.
The Focus on the Family program is called “Reconnected”. It runs in workshop format 7:00-9:00 pm Friday the 24th and 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday 25th. The cost to register is $50.00 per couple, which covers the cost of the book, materials and the Sat lunch. Registration information can be sent to:
1220 Prospect Avenue
Prospect Park, PA. 19076-2031
Make checks payable to “The Blue Church”
Should you have any questions about this workshop feel free to connect with Laura or John Newton.