Having gotten through the great challenges of Holy Week with its intersection of God’s greatest moment and humankind’s worst and passed the empty tomb with a great sigh of relief and shouts of “Christ is risen!,” we now arrive at the next stage of ‘So what?’ Which can also be framed as either ‘What does all this have to do with me and my life?’ or ‘What has God done (for me) lately?’ Not that overcoming death and opening the door for the rest of us to give up that most common of fears – the fear of a death that leads to nothingness, in the process suggesting life is therefore meaningless – isn’t plenty! Truth be told, few of us manage to truly grasp the extent of that accomplishment or fully believe it, much less lean into it with the full weight and enthusiasm of our lives. But I can see some value in those questions, as long as we actually seek answers, preparing ourselves to make Christ’s sacrifice meaningful by the choices we make. So during Easter season we will look at some of the things Jesus did before living out that death-into-Resurrection, in each case asking how we can “do even greater things than these” through active engagement with the Advocate provided by the Father after the ascension of the Son . . . which is all a fancy, wordy way of talking about how we live ‘when and where the rubber meets the road.’
The Voice Bible includes this statement in its opening comments on the gospel of Mark:
For Mark, Jesus’ miracles are more than powerful acts done by a good man; they are manifestations of God’s coming reign. They show us what the world will be like when God’s kingdom comes finally and completely. But until then, Jesus and His disciples are locked in conflict with powerful forces — spiritual, religious, and political.
The disciples have already seen Jesus heal many people of illnesses of body and spirit, and just prior to this story they had been astonished to witness Him successfully command a storm to cease. So curing one more man, even one possessed by a ‘legion’ of demons/troubles/addictions shouldn’t have been all that amazing. But this one went differently than the others in a variety of ways. First, this man was truly incapacitated by his internal turmoil; oddly enough, he could not be restrained, yet lived among the tombs where others would be unlikely to venture and seemed to be more of a danger to himself than others. As such, he would have been pretty easy to ignore had Jesus felt any need or desire to conserve his blessings, power or authority – the man was quite literally a nobody from nowhere. I suspect the disciples might have already been scurrying back to their little boat when the man rushed toward them, fearing for their lives as they had in the boat during the storm, but not Jesus. He stood his ground, seeing not so much a chance for confronting evil as an opportunity to free a human being from his internal shackles.
How might we do the same thing or even more, knowing the Spirit is with us and in us?