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May 4, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Gadarenes

by Haley MaKenna Hardman



          Have you ever been afraid of something? Not just slightly afraid, but so afraid that you lose all reasoning when it comes to this thing. Because you're afraid of it, you can more than likely explain why, right? For example, I am deathly afraid of spiders because they are mean and scary looking (nothing should have eight legs and not be feared, okay?). If you look up the definition of fear, you find that it means: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Most of the time, we have reasons for our fear. Someone is afraid of a snake because some types of snakes can potentially kill you. Now, there are some fears that just do not make sense to me. For example, anablephobia: the fear of looking up, or melophobia: the fear or hatred of music. The people that have these fears, though, could probably explain to me why they are afraid. It still may never make sense to me because I don't have the same fear, but in their mind they have a logical reason. Anyways, back to the point...  In the Bible, there is a passage about a man who has a demon- actually several. He lived in a region called the Gadarenes (in some translations it is Gerasenes or Gergesenes). At the end of this passage, it is mentioned that the Gadarene people were afraid of Jesus and asked him to leave them alone... Yet another fear that I do not understand.


Luke 8:26-27, 32-37 (NLT)

So they arrived in the region of the Gadarenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town... There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gadarenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake.


          These people just witnessed something incredible. This man had literally been insane for years, and now Jesus had flipped his life completely around and all these people could say was, "Leave us alone." Excuse me, but I do not understand. God was literally standing there waiting to free them from their bondage, and they sent Him away with no reason as to why except that they were afraid. Afraid of what, you may ask? Well, I wasn't there, so I don't exactly know, but there are some clues and I think I may know one of the reasons: they had herds of pigs that they were shepherding. In Deuteronomy 14:8, God told the people that pigs were an unclean meat and they were not to eat them. Why would someone be shepherding a pig unless they were planning on eating it later? I mean, they wouldn't be riding them or getting milk from them any time soon, so why have them watched over? These people flaked out on that law that God had set in place, so there's no telling what else they had brushed off. So, when God came around to free them of their bondage that they didn't want exposed, they couldn't seem to let it go. Jentzen Franklin says it like this:

"You want to know why people don't want to come close into the place of worship? Because you can't get close to the presence of God and live like you want to live and do what you want to do. Because when you really get close to the presence of God, you begin to act like He acts and live like He lives. You begin to take on His nature, His character, and His appetites... There comes a point when you have to walk it and live it, or you're simply not in a relationship with Him." -Jentzen Franklin, The Spirit of Python


          Maybe they had been keeping up the act of being a righteous people. In Mark 5 it talks about how they had tried to chain this man up because he was so violent, but nothing had worked. They at least knew that something was off with him, yet we don't read that they sought God about him. Maybe they were like the people that are described in Isaiah 58...


Isaiah 58:2-4 (NLT)

  Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. 'We have fasted before you!' they say. 'Why aren't you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don't even notice it!' "I will tell you why!" I respond. "It's because you are fasting to please yourselves..."


          You see, these people let Jesus close enough to take care of "the issues" that invaded their land, but as soon as He took a step closer, they sent Him away. They were satisfied with trading stories back and forth and watching the man that had a life changing experience, but anything more wasn't as pleasing... I guess they could’ve given reasons to their fears and then justified them by putting their fears on a pedestal, but they didn’t. Even if they had done that, they would’ve been exposing the sin in their camp. They just didn’t understand what they missed out on.

          I guess my question is: are you acting as the Gadarene people? Are you allowing God to take care of your issues, but not allowing Him to free you completely? God is standing there just waiting for you to accept Him. It's your choice. There is absolutely no reason to be afraid, so do not try and justify them.


- Haley MaKenna Hardman

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