Restored for Mission

As Rod Serling would say in The Twilight Zone, “Picture if you will…” So, picture if you will a man in a Gentile region, living among the tombs. He is perpetually offensive (naked) and unclean (beside corpses). And, if this isn’t enough to give an observant Jew the heebie-jeebies, he seems to live in pig territory. Then we discover he is possessed by multiple demons. This is the ultimate outsider, living in the twilight zone of human existence.
 
By the end of this text, the man is fully clothed, “in his right mind,” and returning to his home and family. What a transformation.  And that’s typical of Luke’s Gospel: the world is turned upside down. The child born in humility is a king; the preacher in the Synagogue is the one fulfilling the promise of the Scriptures; the wounded man by the side of the road is ignored by clergy but helped by an outsider (Samaritan);  the humiliated father welcomes home the prodigal son; and the execution of a trouble maker brings resurrection and salvation. Truly, the upside-down song of Mary (the Magnificat) is prophetic:
 

… he [God] has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).

The story of the Gerasene Demoniac is a story of reversal. The “good news to the poor” proclaimed in Luke 4:14-22 is enacted in this healing (an exorcism being at its core, a healing). Given that the Greek word for heal is the same as for save, this healing is a manifestation of salvation. (The restoration of the person back to that which God intended; back to a relationship with the Creator, and with the community.)
 
Yet, when the healed man asks to follow Jesus, he is instead given a mission: now that he has a home, his mission is to that home. 
 
The outcast is the object of Jesus’ love. Those whom the world casts aside, are the focus of Jesus’ attention. Restoration is Jesus’ objective, and no one lies beyond his reach. Community is restored by Jesus. All are then called into ministry for the sake of the Gospel. The world is continually and wonderfully turned upside-down.
 
+ Pr. Ken