Bible Reading Blog — January 25, 2016

25 Jan

Today’s Readings — Leviticus 1-7 & Mark 5:1-20

If you made it through today’s reading, you made it through one of the longest readings of the whole year and you made significant progress in one of the most difficult books for most Bible readers: Leviticus.

Today’s passage from Mark struck me for its focus on the reality of spiritual power. It is seen in the demonized man who could not be chained or contained even by many people. It is seen also in the man’s response to Jesus. When Jesus comes on the scene, the man who could not be chained or handled by many people reacts to Jesus with fear and trembling, before Jesus has said or done a single thing.

This story brings home to me the reality of the spiritual world. We are blinded to this reality by our technology and our scientific focus. The spiritual world we are presented with in our entertainment is often a watered down sentimentality or a gripping darkness with no hope of light. We need to pay careful attention in the gospels to the reality of the spiritual world. This attention, along with remembering passages like Ephesians 6 which point to the reality of the spiritual world, should make us attuned to the fact that there are spiritual forces of God and Satan which are at work in the unseen world.

There is a reaction in this passage that I think mirrors the reaction many people will have to the paragraph I just wrote above. When the demonized man, whom no one in the community had been able to control, was healed by Jesus, the people of the community wanted nothing to do with Jesus and begged Him to leave their region. Now in my prior readings of this passage, I always thought their motive for wanting Jesus to leave was financial; they blamed Jesus for casting the demons into their pigs, who ran down the hill and drowned. But when I read Mark 5:16, I saw this: “And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.” It looks from these verses like the monetary motive was part of the problem, but along with it there was concerned over what happened to the demon-possessed man. In other words, Jesus’ actions in the spiritual realm made the people very uncomfortable. And this, I feel, is a common response. We often get hesitant when we encounter the spiritual world. Some are even ashamed to even speak of such things. We are afraid of being laughed at. And we’ve all met that person who sees a demon behind everything and we’re hesitant to speak out for fear of being lumped in with the demon hunters and other angel and demon-obsessed people.

It is necessary as a Bible-believing Christian to acknowledge the spirit realm but it is difficult to keep this in mind in our world that wants to find a physical explanation for everything that happens. This story in Mark 5 is a powerful illustration of Jesus’ power and an illuminating example of how the true Jesus of the gospels challenges our cultural assumptions. Jesus can not be boxed in by our preferred ideas about Him. He is who He is. We either fall at His feet as Lord or tell Him to go away.

 

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