Matthew 8:28-34 (the message)
When I read this scripture I get stuck on the reaction of the towns people. These two men, very disturbed and controlled by demon spirits, had terrorized the people to the extent they wouldn’t walk past the cemetery. Now here comes Jesus and He casts the demons out of these men and brings great freedom to not only the two madmen, but the people affected by them. And their reaction? They are upset and angry about the pigs. They told Jesus to get out and never come back!
The people aren’t excited and celebrating about the deliverance of these men. They are not really stopping long enough to consider the freedom Jesus has just provided for these men, their families and the community. They seem, at least to me, to be fully absorbed with what someone else’s freedom cost them. The pigs drowned, yes. But as I read this story, I wonder why the people couldn’t trust that this wonderful, compassionate Jesus would not leave them pigless? I wonder what would have happened if the towns people had found Jesus to praise Him…to thank Him…to worship Him. I realize the swineherds probably never had seen such a thing…pigs stampeding over a cliff and drowning at the word of a Man! I don’t doubt it was an eye-opening and astonishing experience! However, the swineherds let fear overcome them and then rushed out to spread their fear and self-concern to the others. Instead of experiencing God’s provision and the miraculous for the town, the people sealed their new pigless state by resisting and refusing the Miracle-Worker. See, I really believe if the people could have gotten past themselves and what they thought someone else’s miracle was costing them personally, they would have experienced a miracle themselves. Jesus is good. He’s loving. He traveled around healing and delivering and multiplying! I don’t think Jesus would have left them pigless.
So, what about us? I can’t help but think of my own attitudes about what deliverance and healing for others might cost me. See, our Jesus is still sending demons packing. He is still healing minds, bodies and marriages. Jesus is still setting the captives free. He is still touching lives. Jesus is still in the business of deliverance, restoration and redemption. How does my heart react when Jesus comes near to work in the lives of those around me? Do I celebrate and stop to praise Him…thank Him…worship Him? Or like the swineherds, do I find myself fearful of what it’s going to cost me? Do I, like the towns people, grow angry and resentful that someone else’s deliverance inconvenienced me in some way? When Jesus asks me to trust Him with my time, my energy, and my willingness to give so He can touch others through me do I in fact trust Him? Do I believe that even if it seems to cost me time or energy or even money, He will redeem what I give Him? Do I truly believe that Jesus isn’t asking me to give and sacrifice to only leave me empty-handed? Do I know Him well enough to know that He won’t leave me pigless?