The sun rose over the calm sea as the boat drifted toward the shore. Peter jumped out with the tie-rope in hand and secured it. Tired and worn from the night-long battle with a storm the rest of them got out of the boat and followed him to the bank. Their legs dragged, sloshing the water.
Their weariness was abruptly interrupted by a piercing shriek. A madman from the nearby tombs ran screaming and flailing his arms towards them. As he rushed at them they slowly backed away. All but One, who took a few more steps and stopped, waiting.
The madman crashed down to the ground embedding stones and tiny shells into his knees. His naked body was covered in cuts and bruises, blood smeared across dried scabs and raised scars. His wrists, coloured purple and yellow, bore evidence of shackles and chains violently removed. He pulled at his greasy, matted hair. In terror and anguish he shrieked, “What do you want of me Jesus, Son of the Most High?” Then pleaded, “I beg you, don’t torment me?” Each word punctuated with fresh fear.
Unfazed, as if in friendly greeting, Jesus asked, “what is your name?”
“Legion,” the madman replied, “for we are many.” His eyes darted back and forth. With increased dread he continued, “please don’t send us away from here?” Begging, “see the pigs, send us into the pigs?”
Jesus looked at the Wildman, compassion in His eyes. His voice was tender, “ok,” he nodded. Then with all authority He commanded the demons to leave the man.
In a fraction the air filled with horrifying squeals and snorts. Pounding hooves accented the chaos. Frenzied pigs stampeded towards a steep cliff and splashes replaced the squeals as they fell into the water and their death.
Shocked, the pig-herders ran to town to tell what happened to the people’s livelihood. On the beach Jesus held out His hand and lifted the man to his feet, took off His outer coat and wrapped it around him. The others approached and together they found a place to sit and rest under the shade of a tree. Peter handed him some flat bread and raisins, John began cleaning his cuts with a damp cloth.
When the towns-folk arrived sometime later they found a group of men laughing and talking, enjoying a simple meal and each other. All at ease and all sane. Unfortunately they were gripped by fear at the loss of their income and asked Jesus and His disciples to leave the region, which they did.
How much time this story takes, I don’t know, maybe a few hours. ….. and all for one man. For one man Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee. For one man Jesus allowed His disciples to endure a night of panic and exhaustion fighting a tempest. For one man Jesus collapsed an entire regional economy by letting those pigs drown. … all for one man.
What am I willing to do for one man?
Am I willing to risk my reputation for one man? Am I willing to put myself in harms way for one man? Am I willing to endure anger and contempt for one man? Am I willing to be criticized, belittled, and lose “friends” for one man? Am I willing to speak-up for one man? Am I willing to STAND for justice for one man? Am I willing to tolerate discomfort and examine my own prejudices, finding my blindspots, and adjust my beliefs for one man?
Jesus left the glories of heaven…. Jesus laid down His kingly robes…. Jesus endured hardship, suffering, and death…. all for one man.
. . . . that man was me!
What will I do for one man?
And the King will answer them, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did to these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”Matthew 25:40