Cemeteries are places for dead things, specifically and usually, dead people, but in one of the stories in the New Testament, we learn that a particular cemetery was home to a man who was alive but not really. He was alive but not truly living. This story is about a homeless dude that lived in a cemetery because he had nowhere else to go and nobody to love him. This guy, he didn’t have a next of kin to put on government forms, and if he did they were no longer a part of his life. This dude’s life, if we can call it that, really fucking sucked.
The guy, whose name we never find out, is so fucked from trauma that he is wild and cannot be contained. He lives in the graveyard and people consider him to be no more important than a feral animal. His trauma has left him homeless and nobody can help him. But this man walked up to Jesus and met him. Perhaps at first he wanted money, to fill his belly with food.
When he showed up, he had no fucking idea what Jesus was going to do, or even any assurance that Jesus would do a damn thing. What if Jesus thought that he wasn’t worth it? What if he’d fucked up his life so bad that he felt unworthy and therefore didn’t show up that day at all? His life would not have changed if he did not show up. So how did he ditch his feelings of shame and unworthiness, because I know he had them, or did he just decide that he believed God could restore his sanity so he was going to believe? So this bloke showed up. That’s literally all he did.
This man was truly troubled, he self-injured and he was obviously mentally ill as he created disturbances in the night. Even after he surrendered, those damn demons didn’t want to go anywhere and they said some awful things, mocking Jesus. But Jesus commanded this legion of demons to leave. They were some stubborn-ass demons because they were comfy and wanted to stay put.
The demons had made this man’s life a living hell, and they wanted to keep him in hell. They wanted to keep him in their clutches, ensnared with his trauma. But unnamed dude had had enough, he knew for sure that he could not heal himself and those damn demons wouldn’t go away just because he wanted them to, and so he showed up, and he surrendered.
He surrendered even though he had no fucking idea how Jesus was going to handle this. I’m sure he was scared. Perhaps he was scared to surrender because he’d struggled with these demons for so long that they had become familiar to him. Maybe he fought with himself about going to see Jesus, figuring that his life was as good as it was going to get so why even bother?
And what if he didn’t surrender the right way, or if it didn’t take, or Jesus wanted too much, even though Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden light but did this guy even know that or did he just instinctively guess that this Jesus might be worth taking a chance with because hey, he can’t do it himself anyway and he’s heard that Jesus heals. I mean what did he have to lose, really? He had nothing to lose but everything to gain.
When Jesus cast those demons out, they were very stubborn and did not go without a fight. I wonder how that man felt, the fact that they were fighting so hard to continue to be allowed to torment him. Did he lose hope at this point, thinking Jesus would just say “ok, you can stay, have fun.” But of course, Jesus did not do that. But they still argued with Jesus, begging him to let them go into a herd of swine, and Jesus consented.
Jesus doesn’t work the way that we always expect. The demons got what they wanted, and they thought that they had won. But, those pigs went insane and ran themselves down the embankment and into the sea, where they drowned. So while it looked like the demons might win at first, those motherfuckers lost in the end, and were completely and utterly obliterated.
The people who owned and those who took care of these pigs were really rather pissed at Jesus, they would rather that the man everyone was used to, the homeless, mentally ill man who lived a life of trauma remained in that state than to lose their damn pigs. People don’t always like it when Jesus heals people. It makes them uncomfortable. They’d rather have the demon-possessed man remain as he was.
The healing of this man was some kind of threat to the establishment and they were not pleased. They probably felt the dude deserved what he had gone through because he was a lowlife, maybe an addict, definitely mentally ill. He wasn’t worth anything to anyone but Jesus. But, Jesus loved him, and the man came to Jesus and bowed in surrender. And Jesus made him well.
The man ended up sitting right beside Jesus, wearing clothes, and in a stable mental condition. The man was so happy that he wanted to stay beside Jesus, but that wasn’t Jesus’s plan. Instead, Jesus asked him to go around telling his story to others, sharing the healing power of God. God in flesh, God incarnate, the God who was intimately acquainted with the man’s suffering. This man was so worth it to God, despite the shame and unworthiness he must have felt, that Jesus took the time out of his day to confront the man’s demons and heal him. All the man had to do was surrender.