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“Legion is my name”

July 26, 2023

Daily Scripture

Mark 5:6-13

6 When he saw Jesus from far away, he ran and knelt before him, 7 shouting, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”
8 He said this because Jesus had already commanded him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”
9 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He responded, “Legion is my name, because we are many.” 10 They pleaded with Jesus not to send them out of that region.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside. 12 “Send us into the pigs!” they begged. “Let us go into the pigs!” 13 Jesus gave them permission, so the unclean spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Some world religions picture good and evil as equally strong, forever vying for power. Even some Christians become fixated on demonic forces, which they see as terribly strong. The gospels always said that evil spirits cowered before Jesus’ power. The gospel writers were sure the battle between good and evil was utterly one-sided. “Legion: a Roman military term for a group of about 6,000 soldiers. Jesus may be outnumbered, but he easily takes command of his opponent(s).” *

  • One clear message from this story was that evil is ultimately self-destructive. The forces haunting the man, whatever their exact nature, brought him no good, but triggered self-injurious behavior. Then, when Jesus granted the request to go into the pigs (a clear sign he was in Gentile territory), the demons promptly destroyed their new “abode.” In what ways have you seen evil’s destructive nature, in yourself or in others you know?
  • “Legion” had a specific meaning in occupied Israel. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “A legion was a Roman regiment of 6,000 troops…. The legions, at their wildest and most irresponsible, could sometimes be guilty of atrocities that would make the blood run cold.” ** This story linked Roman troops occupying Israel with evil. What are some prominent names of evil forces today? In what ways does evil cause human suffering even through forces we might not think are “spiritual”?

Lord Jesus, in the end, you healed the evil in our world by allowing the Roman legions to do their worst to you. Send your healing, and your sacrificial spirit, into my heart. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Randy Greene

Randy Greene

Randy Greene was a member of the Resurrection Experience team at the church and helped shape all of our online tools for connection. He is a graduate of Central Seminary in Shawnee and loves to write stories about faithfulness. He left the church staff earlier last year. To see a lovely short poetic reflection Randy wrote recently, click here

[During a sermon series on “The Gospel in Disney,” the GPS studied today’s passage. Randy drew from the Disney film to share these valuable insights:]

When most people looked at the Beast, they saw an object of fear. In their minds, the monster was violent, inhuman; instead of a person, they saw a horrific creature, larger than life and worth less than life.

In Beauty and the Beast, another man stands in stark contrast. Gaston was the town hero, attractive and muscular and brave and bold. Yet both of these characters, deep inside, were human. Both had souls, both had hearts. Both felt anger and humiliation and fear. Both loved, and both hated. Both made mistakes. Both deserved grace.

As I think about the way I view people, I find that I tend to lump people into one of these two personas: the Beast or Gaston. I think of them as awful, despicable creatures without a shred of decency, or I elevate them to a position of god-like influence in my life. Even though I know they’re human, it is much easier for me to fit them into one of these tidy boxes. If I can see a person as a Beast, I can discount everything they say as monstrous; if I can see them as a Gaston, I can hang on their every word.

But by putting people in either of these roles, I strip them of their humanity. People are complex, with unique situations and motivations. By categorizing them, I turn them into objects I can understand without having to work to understand their complexities.

In the story in Mark, Jesus showed us a different way to see people. He looked at the creature, the man overcome by insanity, and saw the humanity within him. Jesus saw the man–not an object of fear–and treated him as human.

The more I study Scripture, the more I think that one of the gravest sins we can commit is the objectification of our brothers and sisters, who bear within them the very image of God.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Suzanne Watts Henderson, study note on Mark 5:9 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 75 NT.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 119.