In Mark 5, Jesus arrived in a boat on the east side of the Sea of Galilee – primarily a Gentile area. There he encounters a “walking-dead” person who was possessed by thousands of evil spirits. Jesus casts them into a herd of 2,000 pigs, who instantly ran down a steep embankment and drowned in the Sea of Galilee. When people in the area heard what happened, they were disturbed. V17 says they pleaded with Jesus to leave! They were disturbed, I think, because of the demise of an entire herd of pigs. I think in their minds what Jesus did was way too disruptive to their daily life. Whether or not they all raised pigs, is not really Mark’s point. I personally believe that this large of a herd of pigs was being raised not for food, but mostly for animal sacrifice to pagan gods in that Gentile area. Although we might be thinking of the loss of income and the economic impact this would have in the region, Mark doesn’t even address that. So, to me, to be true to Mark’s focus in a broader context is this: Jesus disrupts the status quo of our lives. You see, we have to be careful in the way we communicate the Gospel to people. We can – without realizing it – slip into the trap of telling people that if they would just come to Jesus, then everything will be okay, that Jesus will make everything right… if you just follow Jesus, that crisis you’re facing will be automatically overcome. We do a discredit to the Gospel if we present Jesus that way. Problems don’t always get resolved just because you believe in Jesus. There are still consequences for past mistakes and poor life choices. Crisis can still turn into tragedy. Of course, you can be delivered like the demon-possessed man and set free and put in your right mind. But for sure, your life is never going to be the same. Following Jesus is going to disrupt the pattern of your life. You can’t fit Jesus and the Gospel into your old way of life. If your life remains the same, maybe you haven’t really fully surrendered to him.
There is something else to notice about the people’s troubled reaction. It seems they’re more bothered by the drowning of the pigs than the deliverance of the man. In other words, they lamented the loss of property (dead pigs) without celebrating the living miracle before them. You know what I mean? “Oh look at all those dead pigs floating in the water. That’s terrible! What a waste! Why did he have to do that?” Instead of “Wow! Look at this crazy, walking-dead man who is completely delivered! We could never do anything like that with him. It’s a miracle! How did Jesus do this?” Nope! They were fixated on what was lost instead of looking at what was gained. They saw the negative and ignored the positive. When your routine is disrupted, your apple cart upset, or the security of your life unsettled, do you fixate on what has gone wrong? Do you see the cloud, the negative, the storm, lamenting a loss and completely ignoring the positive or what has been gained? If that’s the case, you need to see what Jesus has done. Don’t look at how big your problem is. Look at how big your God is!