This past weekend I was reading in Matthew 8 and came across the story of Jesus casting demons out of two men and into a heard of pigs, who then jumped into the sea and drowned. A funny thing happened after the pigs drowned…the people got mad. I set down my Bible at that point, wheels turning, because every time I read this story I see it from another angle. This weekend was no different. (See, this is what is so neat about the Word of God being living and active. God is constantly speaking new things through it to us.)
Now, let me back up a bit to the beginning of the story. I’m using the Message:
“They landed in the country of the Gardarenes and were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery. The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down the that stretch of road anymore…”
The people were held in bondage by these two demon-possessed men. They couldn’t walk down this street. They had to plan alternate routes and avoid any place these men were. These two men were messing with the Gardarenes’ lives.
Jesus saw this. So what did he do? He stepped in, and he changed things. He commanded the demons out of these two men. Those demons took up residence in the pigs who then ran into the sea and drowned.
And look at how the people responded:
“Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs. A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back.”
That sounds like such a strange response, doesn’t it? We read it and think, here Jesus delivered you from this oppression and you’re angry about how he did it? Angry about the pigs?
Thing is, if we stop and really look at it, we can be the same way: focused on the pigs. Maybe we’ve begged to be delivered from an addiction, but to do that, God needs to kill off some old haunts or friendships. Perhaps God wants to help us overcome a bad attitude, but he’ll need to drown some unforgiveness in us. Possibly God wants us to grow deeper in our relationship with him, and he’s asking us to change some music, books, or tv shows we watch.
Oh, we so badly want to live lives free of detours and problems. We want to live in freedom, far away from the things that have plagued us, caused fear, or simply kept us from the path we should have been on. Yet when God delivers us, we can sometimes point to the dead pigs and complain.
“Why did that relationship fall apart?”
“Why can’t I watch that show?”
“Why can’t I have that drink?”
We start to focus on the things he killed in our lives so we could live in freedom, rather than rejoicing in that very freedom!
Don’t let another day go by focusing on the pigs. Look to what God has brought you through, not what you had to give up. Because if God had you give something up, it’s only because he’s got something so much better! And freedom is one of those things:)