Once, for instance, we jumped into an idle fishing boat, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, because he’d asked us to row across the lake toward the region of the Gerasenes. It was far. We strained at the oars. We rowed in shifts. I suppose we traveled maybe three or four miles. After my turn at pulling the oars my arms, shoulders, and legs burned with fatigue.
A few feet from land he jumped out of the boat and waded to the shore. It was then I noticed, to my right, a raving mad-man rushing at Jesus. The others saw him too. But we weren’t close enough, quick enough, or rested enough to get in front of Jesus and protect him from the certain harm I thought he was about to suffer.
Jesus stood still. He didn’t panic, serenity within the rage. With his eyes, he seemed to examine and embrace the unfriendly man running toward him. The man’s savage scowl, his foul, cut and scarred body, his wild fierceness screamed, “I am danger!”
This had to be him, I’d heard the rumors. He lived among the tombstones. No one could restrain him, he even snapped and smashed chains and leg irons. No one attempted, any longer, to control him. Night and day he yelled irrational nonsense and cut himself with stones. I watched in horror as this man closed in on my master, but then without explanation the man fell to his knees in front of Jesus and stared in desperation at Jesus. The man screeched words I didn’t quite understand, “Jesus, Son of the Living God in heaven, what do you want with me? Promise me in God’s name you won’t torture me!”
Without urgency Jesus said, “Come out of him.”
The man lowered his gaze, his chin dropped onto his chest. He appeared dazed.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Legion. We are many.”
With tension and anxiety I readied myself to rush forward, I’d never seen anything as improbable, as impossible as what transpired before me.
The man raised his arms and with open hands appeared to plead with Jesus. He appealed, but I couldn’t quite hear him, I think he said, “Let us go into those pigs over there?”
In less than a blink the nearby herd of swine, I estimate about two thousand, squealed, jumped, and frantically sprinted down an embankment, into the sea, and drowned. I was—we were—dumbfounded!
The man’s insanity evaporated and he spoke softly, intelligently, with Jesus. We dressed him in some of our extra clothing.
“Let me go with you,” the recovered man said.
Jesus looked into his eyes and smiled. “Go home to your family and friends and tell them what the Lord has done for you.”
Reluctantly he stood up, then grinned, faced toward Decapolis, and hurried away, on a mission.
(to be continued)