Proper 24B/Ordinary 29B/Pentecost 22
5 1-5 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.
6-8 When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)
9-10 Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”
He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.
11-13 A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.
14-15 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.
16-17 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.
18-20 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Imagine someone gave you a one-of-a-kind gift that was made especially for you.
What would you do with it?
Would you hide it under a rock or locked away or would you show it to others?
Hopefully you would not just keep it to yourself but want to let others see it. God has given all of us talents that He picked out just for us. The talents He gives us aren’t meant to be hidden or used just for ourselves. God gave us our talents and wants us to steward them well so that people won’t praise the gift itself but the Giver of the gift. When we steward our talents, we are honoring God by using what He gave us for His glory.
One of the Biblical stories about stewardship comes from the Old Testament and a man named Daniel. Most people know Daniel as the one God saved from the lions’ den. However, before that happened, God used him to show His power in a different way. King Nebuchadnezzar was having bad dreams that really upset him. He threatened to kill all the wise men unless someone could tell him what they meant. Daniel and his friends prayed and God gave Daniel the answer to the king’s dream. Instead of being prideful of his new talent for interpreting dreams, Daniel humbly told the king what his dream meant and gave all of the credit to God. By stewarding his talent well, Daniel not only saved the lives of all the wise men in Babylon but also showed the king what his God, the one true God, is really like. The king of Babylon learned about the one true God through Daniel’s gifts as we hear in Daniel 2:46-49:
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshiped Daniel, and commanded that a grain offering and incense be offered to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.
How about in our lives? Do people learn about the one true God through us using our gifts? What talents has God given you? What can stewarding your talents teach other people about God? We can teach people about what Jesus has done for us if we are in right relationship with God and have removed all the impediments to Christ.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis tells the story of a boy named Eustace, and everybody hates him and he hates everybody. He’s selfish, he’s mean, and nobody can get along with him. But he finds himself magically on a boat, the Dawn Treader, taking a great voyage. At one point this boat pulls into an island, and Eustace wanders off and finds a cave. The cave proves to be filled with diamonds and rubies and gold. He thinks, “I’m rich!” And immediately, because he is who he is, he thinks that now he’ll be able to pay everyone back. Eustace then falls asleep on the pile of treasure – which he doesn’t yet know is the hoard of the dragon. And because he falls asleep with greedy devilish thoughts in his heart, when he wakes up, he’s become the dragon – big, terrible, and ugly. Soon he realizes there’s no way out. He can’t go on the boat, he’s going to be left on the island alone, he’s going to be horrible all his life. He falls into despair. One day the great lion Aslan shows up, leads him to a clear pool of water, and tells him to undress and jump in. And suddenly Eustace realizes the “undress” means “take off the dragon skin.” He begins to gnaw and claw off the scales, and he realizes that he can shed his skin. Working at it, he finally peels off this skin – but to his dismay, he finds that underneath he’s got another dragon skin. He tries a second time and a third time, to no avail; the same thing will happens each time. Then Aslan begins to claw him and take off the skin; it was painful but he was eventually un-dragon-ed and thrown into the water… “Then I turned into a boy again”
This is a reminder that We can’t save ourselves. Only Aslan can un-dragon Eustace, and put him in his right mind.
Now think about our Gospel story for today. We have “a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.” Only Jesus can free the demon-possessed man and return him to a person “sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.” How many of us have been like the madman, but are now free to live as disciples of Jesus Christ? How might we live our lives? How might we proclaim our God who freed us from sin? Again, Do people learn about the one true God through us using our gifts? What talents has God given you? What can steward-ing our talents teach other people about God? We can teach people about what Jesus has done for us if we are in right relationship with God and have removed all the impediments to Christ.
Commentary provided by Hilary Kimes, Gary Frost, Daniel Russell and Abri Brackken