Maniac of Gadara (Reference Dakes Bible, Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28)
I heard a story of Jesus, of how he went into the country of the Gadarenes, called Gadara. Gadara was a city south of the city of Galilee and east of Jordan in Decapolis, a region east of Galilee and Samaria. The country of Gadara simply refers to the parts outside the city reaching to the Sea.
And even as I listened to this story, it was like I was there, in the boat with Jesus as he lay down peacefully, teaching Peter about tides and waves.
This is how best I could imagine this story of Jesus, I’m not a better writer than Matthew, Mark and Luke, but I couldn’t resist giving it a shot, to write about my savior, it’s the biggest honor.
We were soaking wet and still petrified from that blasted storm even though Jesus had calmed it down. I don’t know how he could have slept through most of the storm. I heard it was Peter who had woken him up and asked him ‘ Jesus don’t you care that we perish?’ I’m not sure if that question was an insult to our Lord, I mean, how could he not care? He had shaken his head, gotten up and just shouted ‘Peace be still!’, and that was it, the sea just mellowed, leaving us with open jaws.
I looked at Peter as he tried to sit close to Jesus like John, I always thought he was ever dramatic and loved attention. I took my eyes off Peter and looked at Jesus, he was not wet and his face was ever so peaceful.
He was talking to Peter, James and John, I’m not sure what they were talking about, but I was a little jealous, those three were like Jesus’s shadow. I frowned a little at the thought, then I heard Jesus say ‘Why are you so fearful? How come you have no faith?’ No one answered, our heads bowed down in shame, our faith was failing. We had failed yet again, but Jesus seemed to not get angry, he just looked into the sea and I thought I saw a smile spread on his face. I felt a tap on my hand, it was Andrew, his lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear him above the wind. He then came closer and spoke in my ear ‘ What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’ Funny I had thought the same thing.
Our boat sailed on, some of us paddling and some quiet. We were going to the other side of the sea, into Gadara. When we got to shore, Matthew got out and tied the boat up. Jesus got out first and one by one we followed. I looked around us, this place we had come to wasn’t exactly nice, but I couldn’t tell why.
Suddenly! we heard a loud cry! We stopped immediately and looked around, naturally we moved closer to Jesus. There was another loud cry and we saw a strange man running towards us, he was no ordinary man because he was coming from a tomb nearby, and he was stark naked. Now I know why I thought this place wasn’t nice, there was a huge tomb site. Oh my! What sought of man will come from a tomb site?
‘Only a man possessed with unclean spirits.’ I didn’t realized a man had walked up to me, I had spoken my thoughts out loud, and he had heard.
‘Who are you?’ I asked him.
‘I’m a local farmer here and I must tell you to stay away from that mad man, he is dangerous!’ he replied. I know this man, I mean I knew him when he was clean. He was a farmer like me, his pigs were doing well too. He had a wife and child, all was well, till one day, I don’t know how it happened, he just changed, he wouldn’t reason anymore, he stopped tending to his pigs so most of them were lost or died. . .
As the man was talking he put his hand to his mouth to stop himself from bursting to tears. ‘I knew this man well, he was my friend, he is my friend,’ he continued. He left his wife and child and came to live here. We tried to help him but he won’t let us, he got so mad, he would scream, curse, and cut himself with stones. We tried to tame him by putting him in chains, so he won’t hurt himself, but he would break them, he is very strong.’
‘We stopped trying, our strength was spent, and always night and day we hear him in the mountains, and in this very tomb, crying and cutting himself with stones. Do not go close to him, he might hurt you.’ he said and he walked away.
I must warn Jesus before the maniac got any closer, but when I got to Jesus, he was calm and there lay at his feet this maniac. He was on his knees, his head bowed, I couldn’t hear very well what he was saying, but it sounded like he was worshiping my Lord. What a shock! This man was not supposed to be reasonable in any way, isn’t that what that farmer had said, but here he was speaking and very reasonable words coming out of his mouth, Jesus looked at him and did not seem shocked at all, he said to the maniac,
‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ I was dazzled, Jesus was talking not to the man , but an unclean spirit.
I heard the mad man say with a loud voice
‘What do I have to do with you Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure you not to torment me.’
Wait, is it the mad man speaking or the unclean spirit and how did he know he was Jesus, Son of God? Fantastic!
Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And the man answered and said ‘ My name is Legion: for we are many.
Did he just say ‘we’, I had never seen anything like this before. And suddenly! The spirit Legion begged my Lord not to send them out of the country.
Is Jesus even considering this request?, I mean what right did spirits have to make a request from Jesus. Once more they begged him, ‘ Send us into the swine, so that we will enter them.’ I wondered which swine the spirits were talking about, and I turned and saw a great herd of swine feeding near the mountains. What! The farmer that talked to me will not be happy with demon infested swine, I doubt they will taste good too.
Jesus gave the spirits permission to enter into the swine, they made an awful lot of noise when they were leaving the man because he cried out in pain as the spirits seemed to leave him. It was terrifying!, it felt like someone was skinning his skin, he tore at himself and gnashed his teeth, then abruptly he fell to the ground and became still. I looked across the mountain as the great herd of swine, they too squealing, ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and choked in the sea. It was a horrid sight!. We later heard from the farmers there were about two thousand pigs that drowned that day, talk about bad luck.
The farmers were not happy at all, they came charging at us like an angry mob. When they came they met the man who was possessed calm. Myself I got a chance to look at him well, now that he was calm, I could look at his features well. His hair was really long and unkempt, his beard touching his chest, well what do you expect from a man who has seen hell and lived in darkness for so long? He was now wearing a robe, wait was that not Peter’s robe?, give it to him to always steal the show and be a hero. With a good shave and a bath this man would look very good.
You could see the farmers were afraid, even the one who had called this man his friend could barely approach him. I think the whole incident of the man now normal and their poor pigs just left them in fear and so I saw one of them turn to Jesus, begging him to leave their land, it wasn’t the first time people had rejected Jesus, but it was still someway.
As for Jesus, he just calmly said okay and bid us to go back to the boat. When we got back to the boat, I saw the man following us, I stopped and waited for him to catch up, I had to talk to him.
‘What is your name?’ I asked him half expecting him to say Legion again. . .haha don’t mind me, I forgot to mention I’m the silly one here.
‘My name is Jorra, son of Caleb,’ he answered, a little shy. I think he was a little embarrassed. ‘I want to speak to your master, I want to go wherever he goes, he has given me a new life and so I owe it to him to serve him.’ He spoke with such gratitude I felt I was ungrateful, to walk with Jesus, to follow him, he had also given me a new life too. I know where I came from but I often forget, a grateful person never forgets. I was so moved by Jorra I took him by hand and led him to my Lord and Savior. Jorra immediately went on his knees, with tears in his eyes, he held on to Jesus’s feet, muttering words of thanks.
We all stood still and marveled, it was a beautiful sight, a man who was tormented and in darkness, now whole and sound and such humility pouring out of his mouth made us realize we had become too familiar with our master.
‘Master, pray, let me be with you, let me serve you, I want to follow you,’ Jorra said as he looked at his savior. I couldn’t tell what Jesus would say, I just waited for it.
‘You are blessed my child, but I want you to go back to your wife and child, to your friends, to your people and tell them the great things that the Lord has done for you and how he had compassion on you,’ said Jesus.
Jorra stood up and smiled and he looked brighter. ‘I will do as you have told me, I will publish in Decapolis the great thing you have done for me and all men shall marvel. Thank you my Lord for this wonderful calling.’ And off he went, back into the city, I had never seen a man walk with so much purpose as our Jorra did.
We all got back into the boat and once again I looked at Jesus as he asked Judas if we had enough money to buy bread and fish at our next stop and Judas said no, that guy eh! But Jesus smiled and didn’t argue, he just told Peter to get ready with his net.
I was in a great place with a great man and the fact that Peter was going to show off again with his past occupation could not spoil that. The sea was calm and the winds were gentle as we sailed on in peace, ready for the next wondrous thing Jesus would do.
This is a story of Jesus, it’s marvelous and I will take it wherever I go.