The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8: 31-34 NIV)
Wait, what? Jesus goes from place to place, heals a leper, heals the centurion’s servant from afar, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, calms the storm, drives out demons. Then “The whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they…” They what? I expect to see something like “praise him”, or “thank him for all he has done” or “congratulate him on his accomplishment” or “beg him never to leave”… but no! they pleaded with him to leave! Huh??
Earlier in the chapter Jesus prepares us for this. When some people say they want to follow Him he warns them that there’s a cost. The people of Gadarenes lost their livestock, and to them that was more important than the freeing of two men from the violent demons that possessed them. It makes me stop and think of how many times I’ve been just like those people in that town. How often am I too concerned about my own personal welfare or comfort to really absorb and appreciate the awesome power of Jesus around me? When am I more concerned about my pigs then the human beings around me that need freedom from their demons? Do I chase Jesus away because He seems to be causing trouble in my little so-called-paradise? The very Jesus that can heal, calm, and set free from bondage? Sometimes, maybe so….
Help me, Lord, to have the strength and insight to know in my heart that following you is well worth the cost. Don’t let me be blinded to your power and goodness with preoccupation with the things in life that are fleeting and temporary. Give me faith like the centurion!