Monday, January 11, 2010

The Backside of a Miracle

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."
He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. – Matthew 8:28-34

Whoa whoa whoa!

Ok wait a minute… What if you were one of the people tending the pigs? You’re going about your work, chillin, minding your own business and all of the sudden this happens. I imagine it going something like this. Let’s call the pig keepers Earl and Carl.

Earl: Hey… Carl. You see that man over there?
Carl: What man?
Earl: Look dummy! That man there. He’s walking on that road by them tombs where them crazy dudes are. Must not be too smart.
Carl: Don’t you know who that is? I think that’s that Jesus dude.
Earl: Jesus? Oh that fool owes me three denarii!
Carl: No not that Jesus. You know, the one who turned water into wine at that party a while back.
Earl: He did what!? Hahahaha! Shut up Carl.
Carl: yeah man. It’s true. My cousin Ray was there. Red wine, delicious.
Earl: Like that huh?
Carl: Yep like that. But what’s he doing over there by those tombs. He must not know… oh no… they seen him!!

(Carl and Earl yell out into the distance for Jesus to run away from the possessed men.)

Carl: You think he heard us?
Earl: I dunno man… Now he’s talking to them. They’re not attacking him!
Carl: Wait he’s looking in our direction now.

(Jesus points at the pigs… then there’s a snap, crackle and pop.)

Carl: Oh no!
Earl: grab em you fool!
Carl: I’m trying I’m trying!
Earl: Go close the gate!

(Carl is knocked down into the trough by a massive hog as the hog herd runs down the ledge and into the lake to their demise.)

Carl: nooooooo…
Earl: Well I’ll be good and Go—
(Jesus turns and with a snap fixes his gaze at Earl in the distance, stopping Earl short from saying God’s name in vain. He then calmly continues on the path. Earl and Carl sit in silence covered in slop. After a few moments Earl hollers out to Jesus in the distance.)
Earl: Ay! What you gone do about our pigs holy man!
(Jesus keeps walking)
Carl: Bossman ain’t never gonna believe this.
Earl: Shut up Carl.
Yeah, something like that.
I feel bad sometimes for the folk on the sidelines of these miracles. I mean, Earl and Carl got jobs to do ya know? Now they’re about to get fired because of a miracle.
That ain’t right.


  1. Cuz, you left me hanging on this one. Your perspective on this is interesting. Carl and Earl were participants in the miracle, by being the tenders of the pigs, but not the beneficiaries of the miracle. In this instance they were left hanging with no pigs. I get your point. But what's the spiritual truth from their perspective - other than 'it aint right'(which I fully understand, btw)? I don't know the answer, but the question is a provocative one, I think. Thoughts? I'll mull over it and see if I have any thoughts on it. Still chuckling at the 3 denarii, btw.

  2. I totally feel you here Jan. I have questions too.

    When I read this story I started laughing because I thought their perspective was straight out of a sitcom. It's pretty funny to me. But the more I thought about it afterwards... there are times that we feel this way. This is one of those situations (one of many) where I don't have an answer.

    The story only offers the perspective of the possessed men. Perhaps Jesus snapped his fingers again and double the number of pigs appeared out of thin air. Or maybe the tenders of the pigs dropped everything and became followers of Jesus. Or maybe Carl and Earl were going to get robbed and killed for their flock had they not run off.

    We don't always know or understand what God is up to. Also, sometimes we don't see the blessings that come out of a seemingly bad situation until way later (you've inspired a future post on this for sure).

    I have no answers on this one. Just questions.

  3. Okay, I'm still stuck back here. So, I did a little research into the miracles of Jesus. This one it seems, has the rare distinction of being the only one that uses someone else's stuff (the pigs, in this case) to effectuate the miracle. The other one, maybe, might be when the men lowered the lame man through the roof into the house where Jesus was. Not sure of home architecture in that era, but my guess is that there wasn't a sunroof in the crib. Anyway, I digress. I also learned (by reading Mark's version of this miracle) that it wasn't just a few pigs, it was 2000 pigs. I see, from a purely world view, why the people wanted him to roll out of town. He was going to bankrupt them if he kept doing what he was doing. I also learned that this area was a Gentile area. I'm still searching for the spiritual truth associated with being unwitting (as opposed to willing or unwilling) participants in the miracle. But you have me curious, so I will keep searching until I get some spiritual clarity on the matter.

  4. What great detail! I love it. Thank you for adding so much to the conversation. The deeper we dig into this stuff the more fascinating quations are uncovered.


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