PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXVI
To become a reality in the world, the Kingdom of God requires many people, who will partner with the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew from the start, that the one Jew, that He had chosen to sow the Gospel, would end up betraying Him, and that Judas’ people would coerce Pilate to crucify Him. Regarding the ten Galileans, they lacked the determination and the courage to build Jesus’ new Kingdom. They kept waiting for the old kingdom to be restored. And the one Kananaion needed help to take the Gospel to his people. That, in itself, motivated Jesus to take a boat ride to the Gerasenes to find more partners. The Gerasenes or Gadarenes were residence of a Greek colony settled by Alexander the Great called the Decapolis, comprised of ten cities. These Greeks sent some men to Jesus, who had something to do with Jesus’ decision to face the cross and be glorified.
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there shall my servant be also; if any serves me, the Father will honor him (John 12:20-26).
JESUS’ TRIP TO THE DECAPOLIS TO ENLIST A PARTNER
Jesus, early in His ministry, took a night boat during a storm to to set a man free from two thousand demons. And then, Jesus delegated him to preach to the Greeks (Mark 4:35-41). That journey was not in vain. The Greeks did respond to Jesus, in huge numbers, as their Risen Christ. The incident discloses some significant facts in Jesus’ Ministry. Jesus went after a lost sheep, that was not of His fold (John 10:16). This sheep also heard His voice and came to Jesus (John 10:2-4). The man was sick and he needed a physician (Mark 2:17). Jesus had no language barrier with the Gerasenes or with the Romans. The Galileans themselves, that were in some trade, had to be familiar at least in three languages: Greek, Latin, and Aramaic. But, the most important reason was that Jesus needed a partner who could witness to a people, who would replace the Jews because the Jews did refuse to become partners with the Son of God. The incident, itself, was and is a tragic example what sin and the devil’s demons can do to a human being. Also, it is an example what people can become when they are willing to become partners with Christ and when they responds to the voice of the Shepherd of the human soul and human spirit (John 10:11). Both, Matthew 8:28-34, and Luke 8:26-39, could not reproduce the entire Marcan version, perhaps it was too distasteful.
They (Jesus and his disciples) came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he (Jesus) had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and cried out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. Now a great heard of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits come out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep land into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demonic sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood. And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled (Mark 5:1-20).
HOW MUCH IMPACT DID THE HEALED DEMONIAC HAVE?
The first time Jesus had arrived in the Greek territory, He healed one of their own. This miracle cost them two thousand hogs; and therefore, they begged Jesus to leave. However, when Jesus returned to that region, He was welcomed with open arms and with great expectations. The experience Jesus had was similar to what He had when He first came to Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin. This time, Jesus had nothing good to say about these cities (Matthew 11:20-24). The Gentiles began to impress Jesus with their faith and persistence in Him. Mark recalled the encounter Jesus had with a Syrophoenician woman and Matthew remembered a Roman officer’s faith. Then Jesus took a third trip into the Decapolis and “the other sheep were responding”:
And when they (Jesus and disciples) had crosses over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him, and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countries, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as any as touched it were made well (Mark 6:53-56)
And from there he (Jesus) arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone (Mark 7:24-30).
As he (Jesus), entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; where men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment (Matthew 8:5-13).
Soon after this he (Jesus) returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers in his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak” (Mark 7:31-37).
JESUS WAS ALWAYS ON THE MOVE FOR MARK — JESUS WAS FAR AWAY FROM THE ARM OF THE JEWISH AUTHORITY
Jesus did most of His Work outside Judea, under Herod’s jurisdiction, and in the surroundings of Galilee: in Phoenicia, South Syria, The Decapolis, Samaria, and other places. Herod did dispose of John the Baptist, but he did not surrender Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus felt safer among the Greeks than He did among the Jews. He stayed out of reach of Judean jurisdiction; and He remained, most of the time, under Herods jurisdiction, who was also the King of the Roman province of Syria, of which Galilee was only one small part. Jesus spent much time in boats on the Lake of Galilee, also known as the Lake Gennesaret. For instance, the feeding of the five thousand took place on the westside of the lake (Mark 6:34-43), and after Jesus fed another four thousand, He took a boat and ended on the westside of the lake in Dalmanutha (Mark 8:1-10). The place was on the westside of Lake Galilee and also called Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. At this time, Jesus drew large crowds in the Decapolis. Could it have been the grateful demoniac who brought in the crowds? The healing of deaf and dumb and the feeding also took place in the Decapolis.
JESUS’ ENCOUNTER WITH THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
John Zebedee recalled a similar Jesus’ move when He felt compelled to go through Samaria; and there He met a woman at the well of Jacob in Sychar. Mark did not witness this Jesus’ event. Luke recalled a parable about a “Good Samaritan,” Jesus used it to illustrate how to love a neighbor (Luke 10:29-37). According to Luke, Jesus put Samaria on the disciples’ primary schedule to preach (Acts 1:8). In a sense, Samaria was once the Kingdom of Israel. And the Samaritans were Moses’ followers and the children of Jacob. Technically, the Samaritans were the lost sheep of Israel. To John, this incident became the key to what Jesus meant that the Kingdom, Jesus had brought, was spiritual. Therefore, this encounter led to the conversion of the whole town. A woman had become a witness for Jesus and she managed to bring the people out to see whether Jesus was the Messiah (John 4:1-42). This happened when the disciples were in Sychar to obtain food and when they returned, the woman left and the disciples invited Jesus to eat, but He made this puzzling prediction, “that harvest time was four month away, but his own time had arrived.” The disciples, too, would harvest after Jesus had harvested what He had sown. And shortly after, Jesus would tell his disciples that He has to go to Jerusalem and that He has to be killed; and then Jesus will conquer death.
Meanwhile the disciples brought him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you don’t know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, “There are yet four months, then comes he harvest?” I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more relieved because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” After two days he departed to Galilee (John 4:31-43).