Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another New Look at a Familiar Passage

I finally got caught up on my bible reading. If you’re not participating in the church-wide push to read the Bible all the way through this year, I strongly encourage you to do so. Because of familiarity with more standard translations like the KJV, NASV, NIV, I’m using Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE. It’s fascinating to realize that I have just read an otherwise well-known passage but didn’t recognize it at all because of how Peterson translated the Koiné Greek into this decade’s vernacular English. It’s fresh … AND challenging.

Today I read Mark’s account of healing of the Gerazene demoniac. Check out how Peterson renders the last part of the story:

Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.

Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe – and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back. (Mk. 5:14-17, MSG).

As I was reading that, a thought struck me:

I wonder if we do the same kind of thing nowadays. We think it’s wonderful that Jesus transforms lives … until it costs us. I wonder what our herds of swine are, and I wonder if we unwittingly ask Jesus to leave and not return.

It’s not the first time I have had this thought. It’s even possible that the thought is not original with me, but that it came from someone I heard somewhere in the past.

He didn’t harp on it or belabor the point, but Mike Ruffin said it last week: Serving people means that things can get messy. Do you remember that he said that he got the flu at Christmas? … and that it was probably from someone that his church was ministering to? That’s messy. Jesus didn’t tell us that serving others would be easy, neat, or inexpensive … He just told us to do it.

That’s enough to think about for now.


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