Gospel Reflections for Sun June 23rd

17 June 2013

Luke 8:26-39   Lutheran Schools in hostile territory?

There are some troublesome aspects to this story. To be honest the whole demonic thing is not something that I feel comfortable with. Maybe it is related to the fact that we don't readily associate demons with life in modern day society. It seems though that demons were a part of everyday life in the time of Jesus, as there are a number of incidents under this theme during his ministry. Should we perhaps pay more attention to this? I don't know! To add to the uneasiness surrounding this passage, we note that this is no casual, ho-hum casting out of demons, this is a highly dramatic event.  

Another thing that has always bothered me is the fact that the herd of pigs, presumably the livelihood of many in the region, is totally destroyed ... a sure way to aggravate the local people!

So what do we make of this? Can we come back to what has been unfolding in Jesus' ministry to date. This is still very early days as identified in recent Gospel reflections. Surrounding this story we have in rapid succession, raising a dead person, being anointed by a prostitute, the watershed teaching parable of the sower and calming the storm. We need to go back four verses for a highly significant point where Jesus says to his disciples "Let's go across to the other side of the lake."

Why is that significant? Jesus is entering gentile (non-Jewish) territory. Firstly he has just calmed the demons of nature. That's not just a convenient piece of imagery to go with this line of thinking, but a reality of society in those times, that they saw demons behind the violent storms of nature on land and seas. So Jesus continues to stamp his power and authority on the world at large as if to make the statement that there is nothing under heaven and earth that does not submit to the power and authority of God.

Maybe this also serves as a two-pronged timely reminder to us. Firstly, in effect there is a sense in which we operate our schools in hostile territory. Jesus never promised that our journey would be easy and free from trials, but he has promised to walk beside us - always! What reassurance it is to know that our God of such awesome power is at the helm.