Lent • Day 33

I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’

Hosea 2:23

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him.This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

Mark 5:1-5

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Mark 5:18-20

Jesus, still dripping wet from his battle with the storm, stepped out of the boat and into Roman territory. A large herd of pigs grazed nearby. The dead decayed in tombs nearby.

Why did Jesus bring his students here of all places? All of this – the pigs, the pagans, the dead – was unclean by Jewish law.

A man who’d been chained up in the tombs and broken loose came to them. (Or came at them?) His body was gashed and slashed and bleeding. Jesus commanded evil spirits to leave him and the chaos in his mind quieted and stilled.

God is a promise keeper…even when we’ve forgotten the promise.

The LORD promised Eve one of her offspring would someday crush the head of the serpent and defeat evil once and for all (Genesis 3). The LORD promised Abraham, a descendant of Eve, one of his descendants would one day bring goodness and blessing to the whole world (Genesis 18). The LORD promised Judah, a great-grandson of Abraham, that this serpent-killer and blessing-bringer would be a king who would bring peace and plenty to all people (Genesis 49). The LORD promised King David, a descendant of Judah, that from his bloodline a king would come to defeat evil and bring peace and plenty to all people (2 Samuel 7). And on and on the LORD kept making these promises to generation after generation…

But by the time Jesus was born, Israel had twisted God’s promises. Many Jewish leaders had fashioned bits of scripture from here and there into a more self-serving promise. The long-awaited King, they said, would bless Israel and curse the other nations. Israel would receive peace and plenty from her King but the Gentiles would receive his vengeance.

What went through the minds of Jesus’ students as they watched him toss demons out of that Gentile?

Demon-free and in his right mind again, the man begged to go with Jesus. But Jesus said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the LORD has done for you.”

Jesus sent a Gentile to tell more Gentiles what the LORD had done for him.

And what had the LORD done? The LORD had kept the promise!

Jews came into the kingdom of Heaven by submitting to the LORD’s authority and then doing the LORD’s will. Jesus taught his disciples that as more people entered the kingdom like this it would spread like a weed.

Then, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee – among the dead and the pigs and the pagans – Jesus brought deliverance to an enslaved Gentile and sent him to go tell others and spread the kingdom well beyond Israel. And the man did as the LORD commanded.

God is a promise keeper…even when we’ve forgotten the promise.


• Who have I given up on because I think beyond God’s reach?
• Who do I steer clear off because they’re an unworthy lost cause?

Our Prayer

Promise Keeper, we have kept your promises to ourselves.

Show our neighbors and the nations how good and great you are. Bring peace and plenty through us. Welcome every tribe and every tongue into your kingdom.