Values and Vanity – Lessons From The Maniac Of Gadara

PART FIRST: JESUS AND THE MADMAN

A strange miracle happened in the Bible, and a very important one, an odd and costly miracle. A lot of people even think it was a parable; or at best one of those violent, not-for-the-faint-hearted “Parables vs. Miracles” of Jesus. Jesus had carefully selected this Miracle; and the sequence of events showed that it followed an premeditated journey by boat across a river to the “other side”, a journey marred with a great storm of ship-wrecking proportion, a journey also blessed with Jesus rebuking that storm and commanding great Calm!

It was the Miracle of the Maniac of Gadara!

It was definitely one of the oddest stories in the Gospels, recorded by all three historians – Matthew, Mark and Luke. But it was also an experience that the world is yet to recover from.

It is called FIGHTING YOUR DEMONS!!

There, we were faced with a man that was so totally out of control, running at an insane speed towards Jesus and His friends. Now, just imagine a person that was so out of control:

  • He was stark naked (or at best scantily cloaked).

  • He was without shame.

  • He was a tortured, tormented soul.

  • He was also violent, shrieking, screaming, terrifying people, celebrating death; perhaps with elements of death tattooed all over his body.

Then we read about his strength.

  • He was strong.

  • He was so strong and so dangerous that he had to be bound and restrained.

  • Somehow, the demons could accelerate his adrenalin, so he was able to shatter the things they used to bind him.

  • He could not be restrained.

  • He was out of control.

  • He was insane.

This man definitely shared lots and lots of attributes with the 21st century generation!!! Perhaps, not in terms of the label of insanity; but in so many ways. The 21st century humans still struggle with the same demons this man was stuffed with!! The demons called Legion, pushing people to make all the wrong choices and do all the wrong things, until eventually, Wrong becomes Right, and Right becomes Obsolete.

It’s important to note acknowledge the reality of mental illness in today’s world, most of which can be adequately managed with proper treatment. Today, we have a lot of fancy words we use for it. Today we call it: mentally ill, emotional problems, psychological sickness, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorder, psychopath, drugs induced psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, she is a “cutter”, he’s a “troubled” young man; and the list of mental disorders seems to be endless. But using the Biblical-call-a-spade-a-spade approach, the Bible addresses them all as: “Demonic influence, demonic control and demonic possession”.

As we gain more knowledge, medically, we understand that these mental disorders are related to some chemical components in the brain that are amiss and we have employed several approaches which seem to be helping a lot to correct these mental disorders. There are many “little-friends” in terms of medication that are helpful, behavioral treatment as well as social support. But that is not the the point I am trying to make today.

The big news is that The Maniac of Gadara was redeemed. He was useless to his family, to his community, and to humanity until that day he met Jesus. But he was redeemed! But then, somebody’s business was ruined. And some people had to make personal choices.

Fighting your demons, whatever they are, would always come at a cost! Whether it is breaking the addiction, changing a lifestyle, beating all those contrary voices, taking a stand, learning to say No!, overcoming the flashbacks, erasing those evil thoughts; whatever you have to do to fight those demons that have traumatized your life is never an easy thing to do. There would be sacrifices!!

PART SECOND: JESUS AND THE 2,000 SWINE

“So Jesus gave them (the demons) permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water”. Mark 5:13.

Jesus made one practical point – and here’s the point: One man’s life is more valuable than 2,000 pigs. But that’s just half truth… 😉

This miracle has been repeatedly criticized and constantly condemned by critics!! Many have described it as a inhumane killing of 2,000 animals – a senseless waste of a herd of pigs. Many thought Jesus had destroyed someone’s investment or means of livelihood. By the way, who owned those pigs? Probably a wealthy foreigner, a gentile who had no regards for the Mosaic Law regarding ‘impure animals’ which included pigs; or maybe a rebellious Jew… either way, did the owners deserve to lose their pigs like this?

This is a miracle the original audience did not find humorous. Likewise, our 21st century thinking has described horror at the trend of events in this ‘miracle’. Some critics even go to the extent of saying Jesus was displaying “animal discrimination” – that Jesus would tenderly hold a ‘lamb’ but he would never be found cuddling a ‘pig’!

Yes! We live in a world of double standard where it is illegal to crush the egg of an unborn eaglet or kill an endangered species, yet it is perfectly legal to crush the life of an unborn child. Pro-choice, right? Maybe human race is not endangered… Well, that’s Satan’s value system.

Jesus has come into their region and cost them financially – perhaps He will cost them more. This was an expensive miracle of Jesus’. If this had happened in today’s world, there would be lawsuit – on behalf of the city against Jesus. He knowingly and indirectly caused the death of 2,000 pigs.

This city of Gadara too felt that same way. They could see the man terrorizing their community decently dressed in his apparently borrowed dress for the first time, and was talking, perhaps laughing with Jesus, under his own control for the first time in a long time. But never mind that, these people wanted their pigs back!

Questions have also been asked – Why didn’t Jesus just send them to hell instead? What happened to those spirit after drowning the pigs? Was Jesus showing mercy on unclean spirits? We need to understand that Satanic agenda places absolutely no interest nor any intrinsic values on animal life; he is out for the human. Like a roaring lion, he is busy looking for the next target cum victim! These Legion of demons had no plans of leaving that territory – they wanted to keep jumping from one person to another and saturate the whole territory, until they could then take over the system. Because, by the way, a Roman legion was a regiment of more than 5,000 soldiers!

The Maniac of Gadara has been redeemed. But this city didn’t see it like that. So, they made their choice – Jesus, go away. His powers had brought loss to them – Jesus cared for the souls of men, but they preferred their business. “Our ways are not your ways Jesus!”, they were saying.

And just as quickly as Jesus arrived in Gadara, he was gone. But the Spirit He left in that Man was a seed He sowed. Jesus went back to his ride, and this former Madman wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus knew he would be more effective in Gadara.

Jesus sent him away, saying “Go HOME!” Jesus told him.

“But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” Mark 5:19.

He went back home, but beyond that he put his adrenaline into good use, witnessing! He became an effective traveling Evangelist, sharing his testimony throughout Decapolis, a conglomerate of ten cities!!

“So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.” Mark 5:19.

All scriptures, unless otherwise stated,are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation.
Bible References: Mark 5: 1-20; Luke 8: 26-40; Matthew 8: 28-34
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