The Holy Gospel according to
St. Luke 8:26-39
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is
opposite Galilee. 8:27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the
city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no
clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 8:28
When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top
of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most
High God? I beg you, do not torment me"-- 8:29 for Jesus had
commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many
times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with
chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by
the demon into the wilds.)
8:30 Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?"
He said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. 8:31 They
begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 8:32 Now
there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the
demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them
permission. 8:33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered
the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake
and was drowned. 8:34 When the swineherds saw what had happened,
they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 8:35 Then
people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to
Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at
the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.
And they were afraid. 8:36 Those who had seen it
told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been
healed. 8:37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the
Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with
great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 8:38 The man
from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him;
but Jesus sent him away, saying, 8:39
"Return to your home, and declare how much God
has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the
city how much Jesus had done for him.
The Gospel of the Lord . . . praise to you O
Naked Before God
Who will go to the tombs and unbind the man who
lives there in a continuous life of bondage to the demons?? Who
will bring clothing to this pathetic & disturbed soul who dwells
there in the darkness of the stone caves?? Many have tried to tame
him, but even with heavy chains and shackles they could not subdue
him! He rips these bonds like mere thread and then he is back on
the move . . . he roams through the darkness of his life, unable
to be at peace with himself or others who wish to tame him . . . .
He is the Man of the Tombs, it's all he's ever known.
But One is coming who does not fear his madness
. . . One is coming who knows the soul that exists behind the
Yet the Man of the Tombs goes on in his
tormented estate – He is oblivious to all including himself. He
wears no clothing – everyone can see his nakedness . . . there is
no scrap of his own clothing left to cover his naked soul, but,
for now, all of his mania is laid bare -- before all to see; his
life of torment is revealed and his groaning conveys the tortured
soul to as many as have ears to hear.
Not that anyone really wants to see him or hear
him – accept for those who come to gawk at him or poke fun at his
shameful nakedness. He is an oddity to all who spy him out. "Keep
away, he may be dangerous!" Do not go near to him for he is
deranged. "Stay away from us Man of the Tombs!"
Who can blame him for escaping to the tombs?? At
least there in the quietness of stone and in the darkness of caves
he will be left alone . . . . For the dead have no eyes to see and
to judge by, no mouths to jeer at him! There are no ligaments of
life remaining on those bones with which to raise the finger and
point at his strangeness, no feet with which to kick at him or to
turn the heal and walk away with insult and disgust. "Man of the
Tombs . . . go your way! Do not trouble our consciences with your
Demons, do not disturb our peace with your groaning and do not
appear on our streets to torment us with your oddity." Such may
have been the thoughts of the Gerasenes -- his fellow citizens of
The theme of the Delaware Maryland Synod
Assembly which we attended this past Thur. Fri. and Sat. was
entitled: "Marked with the Cross of Christ We are Claimed "
And so during the course of the Assembly, we
spoke of this theme repeatedly as a confession of our faith and as
a testimony of all that Christ has done for us.
The whole event was really impressive! From the
formalities of decision making, to the passion expressed by
everyone who represented their congregations, small and large
alike -- all demonstrated genuine interest in the larger affairs
of the Church, through the representation of their congregation.
But One of the most moving portions of the Assembly was contained
in several little presentations called "FAITH BYTES" interspersed
between the important business sessions.
The first Faith Byte was presented by a middle
aged husband and wife. The husband is a Dr. at John's Hopkins, the
wife an accomplished musician. What we were not expecting to hear
from this couple was that they had recently experienced the loss
of their 28 year old daughter, who died of a rare condition
experienced early on in her 3rd pregnancy. They went on to tell us
about how their faith and church family had sustained them in
hope. The promise of God through baptism remains whether we live
or if we die. The remaining grandchildren, and now widowed son in
law, were able to cope with the loss, because they took comfort in
their faith – knowing that Mom had gone to be with Jesus lessened
the loneliness and provided light in what would otherwise have
been a dark experience . . . . Because we are marked with the
Cross of Christ at our Baptism – we are claimed . . . we are
disciples of Jesus -- children of God -- forever.
On Friday night, there was another "Faith Byte".
This time, it was a middle aged man, by all appearances, he was a
successful business man, he went on to share that he is the father
of three boys and is happily married to his wife Celia. His story
began by telling us that he was raised in the Jewish faith. The
stories of the Bible that he learned as a young boy growing up had
always been meaningful to him . . . but in later years he had
fallen away from God, and was no longer practicing Judaism.
However, his wife, Celia, was a Lutheran!! And she kept the faith
stories alive . . . as he told his story we all got the idea that
his wife also authored some new faith stories for him!! As she
lovingly lived out what she was learning about Jesus, modeling for
their sons and being a disciple. Slowly, his faith in God was
being reborn through Celia's witness . . . but he was still weary
of a Christian Church. But after many years (of nagging??) Oh no .
. . it was because the growing boys were in need of religious
instruction! One day his youngest son came home from church and
announced to his father, "I'm getting baptized next Sunday!" To
which the father replied, "CELIA!!"
He began to attend the Lutheran Church with the
family. Eventually, he became comfortable with what he was
learning about the Christian faith and he also became a baptized
believer. As he spoke of his baptism, he began to weep – which was
accentuated by the great sense of humor with which he had been
sharing his story up till now. Clearly, this man was sharing with
us about his transformed life . . . though he did not quote the
words of our favorite hymn, he could have. "I once was lost, but
now am found" All because of God's Amazing Grace in Christ Jesus.
The Gerasene Demoniac could not have been
farther from God. The Legion of Demons which had overtaken him
presented an impossible scenario for conversion. Nevertheless,
Jesus came to deliver him. After his encounter with Jesus, the Man
of the Tombs was changed:
From Nakedness, he was clothed, From Demon
possession – he was delivered into normalcy, from living amongst
the dead, he returned to his city. From being a hopeless violent
man who was like a wild animal, he became peace-filled with the
love of God. From dwelling among the Tombs in order to be left
alone, he goes now to dwell among his own people in order to
PROCLAIM the Good NEWS!! Jesus Christ is Savior of the World, He
calls us out of the darkness of our tombs, he calls us out of the
shame of our nakedness in the world – He calls us to become
children of God, inheritors of Eternal LIFE!!
In our Baptism into Jesus Name, We are Marked
with the Cross of Christ forever – WE ARE CLAIMED CHILDREN of GOD.
LET US ALSO GO FORTH, EVEN AS THE MAN OF THE TOMBS DID – WE GO IN
THE HOPE AND STRENGTH OF GOD'S LOVE – WHICH HAS COME TO US AS A
GIFT, BY FAITH – WE GO TO SHARE CHRIST'S LOVE TO ALL OF THE WORLD.
more writings of Pastor Jon