A Day Full Of Ironies
Chan Gin Kai
When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (Luke 8:27-29)
Life is sometimes irrational and ironic, and this was one of those days that seemed packed with ironies.
Jesus and his disciples had sailed through a storm across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes (Luke 8:26), which was Gentile territory, and there, they met a demon-possessed man. When Jesus exorcised the man, the demon in him actually knew who Jesus is; he called Jesus the “Son of the Most High God”.
It is ironic, but it is true, we can know who Jesus is, we can believe in his divinity and fear his power, and yet not obey him. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19)
Really, how different are we from the demons if we believe in Jesus but do not obey him?
The demon begged Jesus, “... don’t torture me!” Isn’t that ironic? After all that the demon had done to torture that poor man, and he was afraid that Jesus would torture him? He had caused the man to run around naked, chained, kicked out by society, live in the tombs, and “cut himself with stones.” (Mark 5:5) The demon had reduced the man into a hated, self-mutilating 'beast'. And now the demon was afraid of being tortured.
Aren’t we like that sometimes? We are careless about how we treat others, but so sensitive about how people treat us. We hesitate to give, but get upset when we do not receive. We don’t show grace to others, but expect grace from God. We forget the Golden Rule that Jesus had set, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
When Jesus allowed the demons (for there were many inside the man) to go into the pigs after leaving the man, the pigs rushed off a cliff and drowned. The pig farmers reported this to the people of the town and the countryside, and the people came to see what happened. (Luke 8:30-35a)
When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. (Luke 8:35b-37)
They saw that Jesus had cured the demon-possessed man. But instead of being amazed by Jesus’ power, they were overcome with fear and asked Jesus to leave. If he casts out demon, then he stands for what’s right and good. So why would someone who brought healing and good be scarier than a demon-possessed man? This is so ironic and irrational.
It was comparatively easier to deal with a demon-possessed man – put him in chains and treat him as a madman. There’s no need to talk to him, listen to him or care what he says. But Jesus is different. He didn’t behave like a raving madman whom they could ignore. He is a powerful man standing for what’s right and good. He had already shown he cares about the man more than their economic loss (the drowned pigs). What would this righteous teacher tell them to do? What might he expect them to repent of? Are they prepared for change?
Isn’t it ironic that we are less afraid of evil but more afraid of righteousness? We find it easier to engage in unwholesome talk than to be involved in discussions on how we can be righteous. We are bold in boasting about our achievements but afraid of confessing our sins.
We fear getting out of our comfort zone, knowing that change can be painful and sacrifices are required. We behave like these irrational men who asked Jesus to leave.
When the formerly demon possessed man begged to follow Jesus, Jesus denied him. That appears ironic, but Jesus had a better plan. He wanted the man to go spread the word to everyone, and that’s what the man did (Luke 8:38-39).
“So 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 5:20) The man preached in the Decapolis, that’s a group of 10 cities! Some commentators have called this man the first “apostle” to the Gentiles.
We know the difference between right and wrong. But there’s also a difference between what’s good, and what’s even better. It was right and good that the man wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus had an even better plan for him. Sometimes, God denies our request, even if our requests are right and good, because he’s got an even better plan for us.
Life may be irrational and full of ironies, but that's because we, human beings, are silly. Let’s trust in God’s better plans.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".