“But Jesus refused (to let him come with him), and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ ”Have you ever wondered what kind of friends the Gerasene demoniac had? The text clearly says friends not just people. May we surmise that these were friends he would make?
In the Holy Land on a seminary study trip with Fr Mark Dyer in ‘99, I was pleased to find that Gerasa was on our itinerary. We’d visit sites and roleplay the texts associated with them, which I found an incredibly useful way of visualizing context.
Gerasa was, in those days, a Gentile place, unwelcoming for any rabbi. I found it arid, dusty, with ruins and stones, hard hills, and sand everywhere. I could locate no steep cliff with any sea below it, so maybe it wasn’t really the place, I thought. There were, after all, other sites in the Holy Land which laid claim to be “the One,” but were actually two. There was nothing for pigs, or anyone, to eat, unless from the acacia. In one thing it differed from all other places: centipedes abounded. Neither stone nor path did not crawl with them: quite horrid.
When one compares the RSV with the NRSV, there is little change. The swineherds fled and told, the people came, saw, were afraid, begged Jesus to depart, marveled, or were amazed. Did you notice that everyone begs, except Jesus? Even the demons begged.
Sandwiched between the calming of the storm and the beginning of the healing of Jairus’ daughter, quickly followed by the woman who had bled for twelve years, it wrenches my heart. God answers our begging, but often not when or how we expect.