Sometimes people wonder when I write these posts, since they always are published at 1am (Eastern Time).
Right now, it’s 3 pm, I’m awake after a nap, and I’ve got a window of time to write. And I’m not sure what to say. The next story in the text is about the interaction between a man and Jesus. Or better, the interaction between the spirit(s) in a man and Jesus, and then between the man and Jesus.
As a story, it’s striking because the man’s life is so ravaged by whatever is controlling him. He’s been banned by his community. They tried to restrain him – “for his own good”, I’m guessing, but it didn’t work. He is self-destructive, or so it appears.
And it’s striking because after a couple stories where these impure spirits have been mentioned, Mark gives us a detailed account of what that looks like.
In the previous mentions, the spirits had announced who Jesus was, but he told them to be quiet. Their noise was a distraction in many ways.
But now, on the east side of the lake, in an area likely with some gentiles, Jesus is ready to engage and demonstrate his power.
But here’s the thing. I’m not ready for a discussion of impure spirits and what it actually means and what they actually were and how many there were in this case. I’m not ready for a discussion about the drama of pigs running into the lake.
It feels on this sleepy afternoon like a lot of research so I get it exactly right.
And what strikes me most is that there is a man. Every aspect of his life is wrecked by something he cannot fix on his own. Jesus does not tell him three steps to get his act together. Jesus tells the thing controlling him to leave him alone. And it (they) do.
There are often times that we have things to do. Like the disciples who are following Jesus. But sometimes, just as God speaks peace to storms, he speaks peace to individuals.
And last call:
If you think Lent’s just about giving something up, it will be a long battle with willpower. But what if Lent’s actually about learning to follow God?
Lent For Non-Lent People is a seven-week guide to learning to listen for God. In this short book, I help readers use the season of Lent to learn to focus on God. If you’ve read it before, it’s time to get it out. Ash Wednesday is March 2. If you haven’t, I’d love you to take a look.