The people were spooked, so they asked Jesus to leave! It's not what we expect. We expect the beauty and loveliness of Jesus to be so alluring and irresistible that the people would be eager for Jesus to stay as long as possible.
We'd expect the people's eagerness to go exponential in the wake of an awesome act of deliverance. Here's a crazy lunatic who goes around half-naked, lives in the graveyard, howls at night like a werewolf, scares children on their way home from school, scrounges the trash for food, turns violent whenever anyone tries to help–really more animal than human, not only hopeless but dangerous.
Wouldn't it be good if the lunatic could be liberated? Wouldn't everyone want him to stop howling at night and stop scaring the children? Wouldn't it be great if the torment of that guy's mind and soul went away, if he calmed down, cleaned up, put on some clothes, and rejoined the human family? I mean, wouldn't it be good for everyone if this one got help? Of course!
I'll bet that the day before Jesus came to his town everyone would have said, "Of course!" But when Jesus showed up the next day and the lunatic rushed at him, the lunatic got liberated. The lunatic got a life. Not without drama, but everyone likes drama, right? And not without cost. Aah, there's the rub perhaps. A large herd of swine–some were reporting 2,000 or more–represented a huge sum of money, not to mention the jobs they created and the many other benefits they brought to the whole community. A few swine is one thing, a large herd quite another!
Let's rethink those questions. Maybe it's not as good as we thought for the lunatic to be delivered. Sure, it's sad and it's scary, but perhaps it's a small price to pay for the benefits of the status quo. Of course, we're not superstitious, but if the demons are content with the one, maybe they won't bother the many. Perhaps after all it's the unpleasant collateral damage of keeping undisturbed the status quo, which seems to work reasonably well for most folks. I mean, what if all the lunatics or half-lunatics, or the merely loony suddenly got liberated, got a life? Think about how many pigs that would cost us?
"Whoa Jesus, that's amazing, awesome in fact! Strange to see the lunatic that way. And, look at all those pigs floating on the lake! We've done some quick figuring and at this rate a few more lunatics liberated would lead us to ruin! Don't misunderstand, Jesus, and please don't be offended, but … Would you just leave us alone?"
- Jesus loves the "lunatics" and wants to liberate all of them.
- When he liberates them it disturbs the unholy peace the world makes with the powers of darkness.
- When he liberates it exposes the willingness of most people in most places to sacrifice one to leave the status quo undisturbed.
- The only one Jesus is willing to sacrifice is himself.
- Jesus will liberate every "lunatic" he can, and it will upset most communities' convenient compromises to ignore the hurting, needy and poor.
- Jesus' followers must decide whether they will reject every feature of their status quo that leads to leaving the "lunatics" alone.
- And, they should prepare to lose some pigs.