The demon-possessed man has always been one of those stories that didn’t sit well with me. I always seem to find myself asking, “Did the people in the nearby town know that he was possessed when he was chained up? Or were they just responding to something they didn’t understand?” Upon reading this passage for this Journey Through Mark, I began reflecting on the times I was teaching when students would act out in one way or another. Eventually, I began to notice certain trends in students. Some would act up only after being at home for an extended period of time or coming into my classroom after being with a different teacher. Since I worked with mostly elementary students, I had to do some research.
As it turns out, most of the misbehavior were caused by a response to an outside source that I didn’t see at first. This often happens with other people that we don’t fully understand. I wonder, if the townspeople had known that the man was possessed, would they have responded differently? Would they have sought outside help from their religious leaders? Or would they have continued to act out of fear of the unknown?
Later in the fifth chapter, Jesus says something interesting to the old woman who had touched the hem of his cloak. He says, “Your faith has healed you.” (5:34) I have often heard throughout my time in church and ministry that “Jesus will heal you,” but it seems that here, Jesus is saying that the woman’s faith, not what Jesus did is what healed her. This led me to look at the story of the demon-possessed man again with a different question: “Would others have been able to help him if he believed that they could?”
I feel like this chapter of Mark holds more questions than answers for me. But I think that these are some important questions to reflect on and reflect on how it shapes our interactions with others.
Heavenly Creator, help us to respond with love and care for one another. Lead us to remember that we all have our struggles and that those struggles are sometimes rooted in things that we do not understand.