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“They pleaded with Jesus to leave their region”

July 27, 2023

Daily Scripture

Mark 5:14-17

14 Those who tended the pigs ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. People came to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to be demon-possessed. They saw the very man who had been filled with many demons sitting there fully dressed and completely sane, and they were filled with awe. 16 Those who had actually seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man told the others about the pigs. 17 Then they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Those in charge of the pigs ran into town to tell the tale. Many curious people came to the tombs area. There they saw the man who had been outcast for being a source of fear and disorder now “fully dressed and completely sane.” You’d think they’d have said, “Great! How did this happen?” But sadly, when they heard about the lost herd of pigs, they begged Jesus to leave their region. Some ham or bacon seemed to be worth more to them than seeing a man given back life and health.

  • Scholar William Barclay noted that, whether a herd of pigs is at stake or not, “A frequent battle-cry of the human mind is, ‘Please don’t disturb me.’” That, he said, is why we tend to dislike anything that disturbs our comfort, our possessions or our settled religious patterns and beliefs. * When have you sensed God’s claims calling you to change a part of your lifestyle that you’d rather not have disturbed? How did you respond?
  • Psychologists know that even positive change can make us nervous, or even depressed. It makes a sad kind of sense that the townspeople didn’t like seeing the man dressed and calm—they were not accustomed to seeing him without being terrified. What positive change would you like to see in your life? What fears are making it hard for you to actually move toward changing that?

Jesus, if I’m comfortable when I shouldn’t be, please disturb my life. And give me the courage to work with you to make the positive changes you long to see happen. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves as the Worship Experience Director for Resurrection, leading the church’s efforts to provide radical hospitality and an excellent worship experience across all of our locations. She’s a mom to three, g-momma to one sweet little boy, and shares much of her time with her closest companion, a rescued Pit Bull named Lola.

A pastor friend of mine once shared that his mission was to “comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable.” I had never really thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense, especially as we relate to our passage today in the gospel of Mark. 

Both personally and professionally, I’ve had extensive experience walking with people who expressed a desire to make significant life changes. Whether that was from choices they had made in their past or due to physical or mental health issues they needed to manage or overcome, it’s common to connect with people in these circumstances and be puzzled by many of their behaviors. 

When I had the privilege of working with individuals who were exiting prison, there was often an initial desire to make progress and change the trajectory of their lives. Sadly, that was far too often followed by a return to old patterns. I am not implying that they all returned to criminal activities, though some did. But after months (or years) living a life with very few, if any, choices, the vast possibilities and constant need to make decisions in the outside world was extremely uncomfortable for many of my clients. 

Similarly, it can be painful to see someone who experiences physical, mental or emotional challenges turn away from or even refuse treatment, resources and/or medication. Sometimes they stick with patterns that limit their ability to fully experience health, joy, and life to the fullest. 

All of us settle into patterns of (dis)comfort that serve us in some way. Just as the crowd saw remarkable change in the man who was no longer demon-possessed, they still sent away the One who made that happen. For some of us this could be the doctor we are avoiding going to see. Maybe it’s the nudge you keep feeling to seek more fulfilling employment. It could be the medication on your bathroom counter that you just can’t bring yourself to start taking, or a repeated invitation to connect with someone you keep blowing off.

We’d like to feel better physically or mentally, but we know what it feels like to live our current reality. We often adapt to much more discomfort or pain than we really need to endure. Even more crippling are the assumptions we often make that something might be hard, feel different or take too much time to come to fruition. For me, this is the place where I look to lean on God and move beyond my own (stubborn) tendencies.  

I encourage you to think about the both/and of the message this week. Where are you troubled and in need of comfort? Where might you be too comfortable and need to take action on the things that should be troubling you? I know there are people and resources ready and waiting to help you find comfort. I also know that you are the answer to providing comfort to others or impacting change that reflects the Kingdom of God. In either case, depending on God and following the example that Jesus set, gives us the path that guides us to take the action we need.

© 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.

* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, pp. 122-123.