The Pig Puzzle

11 08 2011

Sometimes we think we know what we want, but then the reality is overwhelming – we want to be married, until we experience the compromises that are needed to live in close proximity to another person; we strive for promotion, work becomes all-consuming, and we find we have lost friends and alienated those closest to us because we’ve had no time for them; we desire to encounter God, but when we get even  a fleeting glimpse of him, it’s too much and we shy away from what we thought we wanted most.

This is what happened to the people who were around when Jesus interacted with the demon-possessed man (you can check out the story in Luke chapter 8:26-39) – “All the people in that region begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone.”   These were the same people whom Luke tells us had wanted to see what had happened for themselves.  In reality, Jesus was not what they expected.

What rattled them so much?

Jesus was a visitor to their region, a Jew visiting Gentile territory.  It’s a strange story, and the fate of the pigs which ran lemming-like down the cliff to their deaths is not easy to explain.  With no Facebook or Twitter, no blogs or mobiles, the news travelled fast.  Look at the reactions – the herdsmen ran away telling everyone about their lost pigs; the man who had been shrieking and distressed such that he had been living alone in a cemetery, now sat quietly beside Jesus…no wonder the people wanted to check this out for themselves.  And when they looked, they were…

Afraid.

The man wanted to follow Jesus, to leave his region and go back with Jesus to his part of the country.  But Jesus had other plans…and that’s another story.

Jesus severely rattled cages.  The “gentle Jesus meek and mild” of popular imagination is fiction.  We don’t get what we expect when we meet him.

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