Reading for Friday, Oct 12: Mark 5
Jesus arrives in the region of the Gerasenes, a filthy place in the mind of an orthodox Jew, as evidenced by the herds of pigs that figure prominently in this story. But the irony is that Jesus ventures to this “unclean” place to encounter a man with unclean spirits. These demons have wrecked this man’s life and we find him rabid, wild, living among the tombs, cutting himself with rocks. But Jesus calms the storm in his life, bringing God’s order over against the chaotic tumult of the foreign spirits. When Legion departs, Jesus casts them into the pigs, sending them hurtling over the edge of the ravine. For the community, this represents a Black Friday caliber economic downturn. What will we do? How will we feed ourselves next season? But for those with spiritual eyes, we once again see the greater testimony of Christ’s power over all things, even the demonic forces of Hades.
It should come as no surprise, though, that the townsfolk ask Jesus to depart, lest they suffer complete economic collapse. In his right mind and fully clothed, our former demoniac follows Jesus to the boat, ready to embark on the adventure of discipleship with Jesus. But the Lord turns to this new convert and refuses him passage on the ship, instead imploring him to stay in his home land. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you,” (v19).
For most of us, the greatest evangelism we will ever participate in won’t occur overseas; it won’t come as the result of a church program; it won’t be preaching a sermon or teaching a class. For most of us, our greatest evangelistic work will take place in the context of our existing relationships: our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. For the stay-at-home parent, their greatest evangelism is to model faithfulness for their children; for the professional, evangelism takes the form of a good work ethic, consistent character and respect for employer and fellow employees. Neighborliness, friendliness, a warm smile, compassion, intentional listening, correcting our children, tolerating the irritant…all of these become transformative practices in light of Jesus, moments rife with Gospel implication.
Yes, the greatest evangelism we will ever participate in occurs right here. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear.