Thursday, February 12, 2009
Part 13 Jesus in Syria
We have been looking for some time at the 4 Gospels from the perspective of those 1st century believers. For it is my belief that one cannot truly understand what the authors were trying to impart until you try one their sandals.
We were discussing the early persecuted believers reading of Marks gospel and when they might have drawn from these words.
Jesus in the boat not only rebukes the sea and the winds but the disciples also using the harsh words (Greek deiloi) “cowards! Are you still without trust” We find that the disciples are constantly criticized by Jesus for their lack of trust (sound like someone you might know personally?). The kind of truse that He showed when He was sleeping without fear of the storm We need to understand this verse penned by the Apostle Paul to his spiritual son Timothy 2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
On another occasion they fear for the crowds would starve in the desert for the lack of food (as if Jesus could not provide). They ask themselves “What manner of man is this that the winds and the sea obey him?” The disciples are confronted with the frightening prospect that God Himself is their fellow traveler toward Syria.
On His arrival in syria Jesus is confronted by a demoniac who saw Him from afar off. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, (Mar 5:1-6)
This man was in an “unclean” land of Gentiles, suffers every kind of ritual pollution. He lives an a graveyard, he is uncontrollable, he burst all the chains and challenges Jesus the minute Christ puts His foot on Gentile territory. “And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not”.
The Devil tries to fence with Jesus in this impure land, having failed in the desert. “For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea”. (Mar 5:8-13) The fact that this is a foreign land is emphasized by the name that the demons give themselves. They call themselves “Legion” the title of a Roman military unit of thousands, not only that but the wild boar was the emblem of the Roman soldiers stationed in Palestine. Jesus has gone beyond the realm of the Temple and what he tells the man he freed is strikingly different than what he tells others that He has healed. Normally He tells any cured person not to relate what has happened , but with man who wants to return with Jesus to Judea, Christ orders him to stay in the Gentile area. “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mar 5:19). He calls Himself The Lord and makes a beachhead in this territory. Nonetheless the people in this area beg him to leave. They do not want to be caught in this cosmic struggle- they do not believe Christ is acting on His own but must be of the Devil as He could not be the Messiah. This is what confronts the Markean community as they enter Syria. To be continued...