He Sets the Captive Free
- Author: Glenn Taibl is a stewardship leader, a member of the Financial Stewardship Team and Luther Seminary.
- Updated: 09/09/2010
- Copyright: Glenn Taibl
This is the first lesson -- Jesus comes looking for us When we are living daily lives that seem far removed from any visible relationship to God, Jesus comes looking for us.
We learn a second lesson today: Jesus is bigger than whatever has us by the throat Whatever it is that we have kept hidden in the dark places of our lives -- Jesus is able to come there without shame.
We learn a third lesson today: Some people really don't want to be healed. They don't want Jesus in their lives to mess around with core values and faith and everyday impacts from dealing with a demon killing, life-giving Lord. It would be too painful, too hard of a thing.
We learn a final lesson today: - Don't use your gift of faith as a means to remove yourself from the world. God is sending us back into the world that God so loves to connect, invite, grow and serve in God's name.
Luke 8: 26-39
Incarnation Lutheran Church
He Sets the Captive Free
What kind of a man is Jesus, really?!?
- He definitely isn't a relaxing person to be around.
- He isn't a safe person to be around
- People in his home town tried to throw him over a cliff
- He angers the wrong people -- key religious leaders and politicians
He reminds of me Angela Lansberry in that old TV program -- Murder She Wrote.
Every week -- Lansberry's character is involved in a murder mystery.
Murder just happens around her -- she isn't a detective -- she's a writer. . . But trouble seems to follow her
- I told my family that I was glad I wasn't her friend -- I might be killed so that she could solve my murder
In the story that precedes this reading Jesus and the disciples were caught in a terrible storm and the boat almost sinks - until he calms the storm
- By the way at the end of that incident the disciples quiz one another -- who is this guy?
Now he comes to the land of the Geresenes -- a gentile land where they raise pigs . . .
- This is not a respectable place for a Jewish Rabbi and his 12 circumcised disciples.
He wasn't welcome there -- he shouldn't have been there.
In today's world Jesus would have been greeted by appropriate signs
It's no wonder that the only person to greet the thirteen men in a fishing boat was a naked man with broken chains dangling from his wrists and legs. The towns-people tolerated and managed his craziness.
- He is loaded with demons who make him do wild things
- He is without home and community, family and friends
- He is out of his mind
But -Unlike the disciples who kept asking each other -- who is this guy? The man, who is out of his mind, knows exactly who Jesus is--Son of the most high God.
This man -- Legion is the reason for Jesus coming to the Geresenes
- This man teaches us something very important about Jesus
Jesus goes to places where we don't expect him to be or for that matter where he may not be invited.
- Jesus literally looks for trouble -- he looks for people who have been separated from God and community and life
- Separated from themselves
So it becomes a very personal and relevant story for us -- it teaches us something today.
This is the first lesson -- Jesus comes looking for us
- When we are in the dark places, out of our minds, at the least when we are living daily lives that seem far removed from any visible relationship to God, Jesus comes looking for us.
The man who Jesus meets is called Legion because of his many demons.
What in the world does a demon look like today?
- What is something that would sap our energy, purpose, vision and hope?
- What would be something that is hostile to our welfare and destructive in our relationships, including our relationship with God?
Better yet there are some things that seem to have the power to grab us by the throat and in a sense, throw us to the ground.
- A child caught up in abusive situations and who is receiving permanent life scars knows about demons
- A family caught up in the never ending cycle of homelessness and with it -- despair of any hopeful future can tell us about demons
- Families who mourn senseless murders in our own metro are can tell us about demons
- There are demons who convince people to use their bodies to deliver bombs
- There are demons who would love to help our entire culture define its future with fear at the center of life rather than trust in a Living Lord.
We seem to have no lack of demons who have the power to take life-giving energy away from us.
For those of us who deal with addiction -- we know the demon
- In fact the first step of a 12 step program is to admit that you are powerless over the demon that has you by the throat and your life has become unmanageable
In a wonderful book by Gerald May -- Addiction and Grace; -- the author came up with a list of 186 addictions -- which he admitted was not exhaustive. At the end of his list he says:
- To be sure some addictions are more destructive than others . . . But if we accept that there are differences in the degree of tragedy imposed upon us by our addictions, we must also recognize what they have in common: they impede human freedom and diminish the human spirit.
By the way, this past week I went on the web to see what I could find about addictions and one of the first sites I came to was for those addicted to the web.
In today's gospel -- the Demons knew Jesus. They knew him because they knew that in his presence they no longer were in control.
And So He Cast Them Out into the pigs -- who ran into the lake and drowned
- And the man called Legion was renamed...he was given himself back again
- His right mind -- clothed -- able to go home- to be back in community
- He was also , most importantly -- back with God
We learn a second lesson today: Jesus is bigger than whatever has us by the throat
- Whatever it is that we have kept hidden in the dark places of our lives -- Jesus is able to come there without shame
- Jesus brings life and spirit and hope to that dark place
- Jesus has come to set the captive free -- beginning with you and me.
The herdsman had seen the whole thing -- the naked wild man yelling and screaming something about what have you to do with me -- Jesus casting out a legion of demons and the pigs running willy-nilly into the lake
- The Herdsmen ran like crazy -- into town
- They came back with everyone from town and they saw the crazy man -- eating -- quiet, at peace, content, sane. Normal
And it frightened them!
The reaction is interesting. I would have thought that the community would have been happy about the results....they weren't they asked Jesus to leave. Can you believe it?
There are two possible reasons:
1. If Jesus had done this to legion what would he do to them. What would happen if they were transformed -- if life was completely changed for them. They didn't want that. They wanted to be just the way they were
2. Jesus had killed their pigs -- he had ruined there economy....get him out of here before he comes into town and takes a look at their other businesses
We learn a third lesson today: Some people really don't want to be healed.
- They don't want Jesus in their lives to mess around with core values and faith and everyday impacts from dealing with a demon killing, life-giving Lord. It would be too painful, too hard of a thing
- Some people really don't want all of this exposure to Christ and light and life. They like the dark. As crazy as that seems -- it's true.
The Geresenes told Jesus to leave and so he did. The healed man wanted to go with Jesus but Jesus told him, "No." You stay here and tell everyone how much God has done for you.
Jesus didn't want the whole, sane, healed man to withdraw from the community...he sent him back into a community full of frightened rejecting people because they needed to hear the same word, receive the same gift, the same power , the same hope that he had received.
I believe that is the call of a congregation of God's people today. God in Christ is calling us to:
- Be present for each other as we wrestle with the things that sap our faith and energy from us -- our demons. We need to speak a redemptive Word of Promise to each other in Christ's name
- He is calling us to be present in this community -- beyond the walls of this church to be a sign of hope and to speak the gospel clearly. In speaking we already know that the demons hate it because the Gospel is stronger than they are.
We learn a final lesson today: - Don't use your gift of faith as a means to remove yourself from the world.
God is sending us back into the world that God so loves to connect, invite, grow and serve in God's name.
So we come to the end of the reading for today...Jesus told him to stay...proclaim to the very people who rejected you and were sore about how your were healed because it scared them and ruined their economy. You proclaim to them . . . And He Did. Amen