Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Isaiah 30:18-19
In the following deeply troubling story, Jesus displays his longing to be gracious and rises up to show compassion to a terrified and ostracized man living among the tombs. Jesus sees far beyond the shackles, chains, torment and despair. He recognizes and knows the true name of his beloved. He sees their essence and has great compassion on their longing for freedom. His ears are attentive to their cries. His perfect love - compassionate, true, and complete - is willing to heal their fears and restore their soul.
As you prepare to encounter Jesus in this story, ask him to open your eyes to see and your heart to know the tender compassion he has for you. Invite him to meet you where you really dwell.
Mark 5:1-20 NKJV
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
For Prayer and Reflection:
What did you hear or feel as you listened? A word? A phrase? A sensation? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you noticed.
How have you experienced the compassionate healing of Jesus in the past? How does he show his compassion to you today?
What experiences have you had which seem like dwelling among the tombs? How has Jesus met you there?
Recall the "begging" prayers you have cried out to God. How has God answered them over time?