Jesus is unsettling (Luke 8)

Gospel of Luke, Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus is unsettling (Luke 8)

If you want to know Jesus, you need to know that He is unsettling.

Read chapter 8 of the gospel according to Saint Luke here.

One of the strangest stories in the gospel of Luke is the visit of Jesus to the territory of the Gerasenes. Gerasa was a prosperous city east of the Jordan River (in modern-day Jordan). It was a Gentile city (as evidenced by the herd of pigs in the story) with a sizable Jewish minority. Jesus and His disciples encounter a man possessed by many demons outside the city. In other words, there is an evil presence in the territory that the people of Gerasa cannot control. When they would set guards on the possessed man and attempt to bind him, he would break free of the chains. So the possessed man now roams free in deserted areas, and it seems the people of Gerasa are content with this arrangement, to keep evil at a safe distance, out of sight and out of mind.

This is not the way of Jesus. He drives the demons out of the man, sending them (at their request) into the herd of swine, which promptly rushes en masse into a lake and drowns. The man is restored to his proper senses.

When news of this strange event reaches the Gerasenes, you might expect them to rejoice. The demons are gone, the possessed man has been healed, he is free. But rather than rejoicing, they are seized with fear, and beg Jesus to leave them alone.

Why are they afraid of Jesus? Certainly they recognize His great power. They cannot fail to grasp that He has saved the life of the poor man who was possessed. It seems they can live with evil at the periphery of their lives, but they are afraid to encounter the son of God. Do they want to be healed like the man who was possessed? Or are they afraid He will treat them as He did the demons? Or, in their prosperity and comfort, do they simply not want to be disturbed?

An encounter with Jesus is meant to be life-changing. He comes to heal us and call us to a new way of life. Jairus puts his faith in Jesus, and Jesus restores life to his daughter. The woman with hemorrhages had spent twelve years as a social outcast because of her condition. She had visited doctor after doctor and exhausted all of her money. She trusted that merely touching Jesus’ garment would stop her flow of blood. She touched Him, and she was healed.

Jesus can heal you, if you let Him. The comfortable often avoid Him. Sometimes God gives us a trial so that we turn back to Jesus in our time of need. If you need to be healed, reach out to Him. If you are near Him, stay close. If you are afraid of Him, if you are afraid of where He will lead you, He says, “Do not be afraid.” Yes, the wind and the sea obey Him, and the demons tremble before Him. But He was sent to heal and to save.

“They who are carried to and fro by the rapid tide of pleasure cannot receive the communication of the Spirit; we see then that man himself is the author of his own misery… for neither the teachers of philosophy nor the chief of the synagogue can bring a cure to perishing mankind. It is Christ alone who takes away the sins of the people.” -Saint Ambrose

Image: Mosaic of the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac from the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, dating to the sixth century AD (downloaded from Wikipedia Commons).

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day for the salvation of souls.

Michael Haverkamp

Michael Haverkamp is a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic Church. He is grateful to his parents for raising him in the faith. He resides in Columbus, Ohio with his amazing wife and three sons. By day he is a (usually) mild-mannered grant writer.

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