Leviticus 9:7-10:20 ~ Mark 4:26-5:20 ~ Psalm 37:30-40 ~ Proverbs 10:6-7
Today is February 20th. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It is great to be here with you today, I in the rolling hills of Tennessee and you in the flat plains or rolling hills or big mountains or lush valleys of wherever you are. Whether in shower or in car or on train or on bus, we’re all in this together and we all do this together and it is great to be here with you today. So we will zoom our way back out into the desert and continue forward in the book of Leviticus as the laws and customs and rituals, the complexion and texture of this culture that is emerging out of the desert – I mean, these people, this mass of people covering the desert floor who left Egypt with an identity of slaves are being reshaped and reformed into something entirely new, a new culture rising up out of the dust of the wilderness and it is beautiful to see. Leviticus chapter 9 verse 7 through 10:20 today and we’re reading from the God’s Word translation this week.
This story that we come to in the book of Mark today where Jesus throws a legion of demons into a herd of swine, that is like one of the most popular stories about Jesus that I can remember. I mean, I remember it my whole life. It is like one of the greatest Sunday school stories of all time because it is so dramatic. Even as I’m reading it, I’m thinking back to Cursi. This is the name of the place that this happened and it is kind of on the northeastern side of the Sea of Galilee. So where Jesus did most of his work and ministry and where he lived was the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee. That is where Capernaum and Corazon and Bethsaida, those towns that he kind of frequented are. So it is miles away. The Sea of Galilee is not like this ocean of water. It is like a good size lake. So on the other side of the lake is where this takes place. There are a lot of ancient shrines and ruins of monasteries and chapels and stuff that were there in the Byzantine era and it’s called Cursi.
I’ve walked around there lots of times and just kind of moved things from the flannel board to real life and walked around thinking what that would have been like. I have never not stopped in my tracks at this point when I come to this story ever. It is always the same thing for me. This story always becomes a mirror into my own soul where I’m looking at myself going, who am I in this story? Because it is so dramatic. A man is set free and pigs are down floating and bobbing in the Sea of Galilee. People are streaming off the mountain. Hippos Sussita, the Decapolis cities up on top of the mountain there, I can just imagine what that would have been like and just how freaked out… Like, if I didn’t know who Jesus was, if I had just heard rumors from the other side of the lake that there is this holy man who has powers but I don’t really know anything else about him, I don’t really participate in Jewish religion, I’m just like a Roman person in the Roman empire being my Roman self, if I come down of that mountain, I’m going to see that something miraculous has happened. And they do. They do see that something miraculous has happened. It’s the response that pierces me sometimes. They just asked Jesus to leave.
They saw this guy and they knew who he was and they knew he was troubled and out of his mind and possessed and he was free and they saw it and they did not embrace it. They asked Jesus to leave. That is what we do sometimes. That is what I do sometimes. Anything that starts disrupting the way we think we know what we know, we send it away. God can move in any way that he wants, but if he moves in a way that is not in our box of theology or he moves in a way that is disruptive to our lives, we immediately want to pace the whole thing. We can cry out for Jesus to come, invade our hearts, walk with us, lead us, be our mouthpiece, do everything, until he does. Because when he does, things start shaking. Because in the presence of Jesus, everything that is false shakes and falls away. All of a sudden we find ourselves really attached to some of that and really uncomfortable in the disruption. We can pray for God to move in our lives, and then he does and it is disruptive and then we’re blaming God for the disruption and he’s like, “You invited me. You said you wanted to be free, but you don’t really. Not really, because freedom would change so much.”
So in our thoughts and words and deeds, we ask him to leave too. We want the freedom that he offers. We want sanctification and holiness, but it only works one way and that is all or nothing. There is no half-hearted entrance into this kingdom that Jesus keeps talking about. It’s all or nothing. And lest we think that God has the easy way on this, all we have to do is look at Jesus. He was all or nothing on our behalf, all the way to the point that there were spikes through his wrists and ankles. He had been beaten bloody silly. It is so inhumane to look at the cross from a human perspective, just to understand the torture. He was all or nothing all the way till death, so this relationship isn’t anything less. That is the narrow path that leads to life. As Jesus said, “Few find it.”
So I look at this story and I’m like, ‘darn it! I do this too.’ I think we all do. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. That doesn’t mean because we all are like this it’s okay. It’s not okay.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to show us the ways that we have asked you to leave even as we ask you to stay. How is it that we’re so tangled up that we forget our source of life or we want to actually be the sovereign in this relationship, that we want to be the yes or no person? And you’ve given us that power, that yes or no power. We can choose not to follow you. At any point we can walk away, but we don’t want to say yes when we don’t mean yes. We don’t want to invite you and then try to govern the whole thing, how much of your presence we will allow, how much disruption we will take, how much of our hearts we will actually open to you and your work because our thoughts, words and deeds are telling the truth about that story. What we want is that your presence is so evident in our lives that we have no idea how to breathe without you, that we have no idea how to live and move and have our being without you. We wouldn’t even know what that looked like anymore. Help us, Holy Spirit, to see what that actually is, that we trying to be in charge of everything in our own lives, our own sovereign god, is our denial of your work in our lives and your presence and blatant evidence of the fall in us. But you came to reverse all of that, so rather than sending you away, we need to be running toward you naked and flailing, just like this man came running toward you. So help us, Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit, and let us see things as they really are. And let us own what we’ve been doing when we’ve been sending you away and acknowledge that that is not healthy, there is no margin in that, and it is sin to us. It is poison for our souls. Separated from you, we are nothing. So come, we ask you to come. We’re not sending you away. We’re drawing near. Come Jesus, we pray in your precious name, amen.
SONG played on today’s DAB “Land of the Living” Matthew Perryman Jones http://apple.co/2kcSKz6