Mark is a notoriously pithy writer who gets straight to the point and doesn’t mince words. And yet he devotes twenty verses to this interesting encounter between Jesus and a violent, demon-possessed man that ends up with pigs diving into the sea. That makes us think that Mark thinks there’s something important for us to see here.
And there is. It’s a story about demon possession, of course, but it’s more than that. It serves as an illustration of how evil functions in the world, especially how it hurts those who succumb to it. Evil is incredibly powerful . . . notice the language that Mark uses here: “. . . no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, . . . No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” In our increasingly secular world, we’re more likely to attribute everything to physiological or psychological causes. The presence of violence and suffering in the world has natural explanations, we’re told, so it can be fixed through natural means.
But it doesn’t seem to be working. We understand more about the human body, the human mind, and the natural world than we ever have, and yet world problems persist. Why is that?
Perhaps it’s because we’re largely ignoring transcendent causes and solutions that are an essential part of the human experience.
We’ll work our way through this story tomorrow, and we’ll reflect on some lessons that Jesus teaches us about the nature of evil in the world–and its presence in our own lives.