Exactly one year ago today I had to blog on this same story, but in Mark’s gospel. I hate this story. I hated it when I first did a series like this on Matthew. I hated it last year when I did Mark. And I still hate today, exactly one year later. I struggle with the demon as it is. I love that Jesus has the power heal people who are obviously being tormented by something, but I struggle with this expulsion of a demon stuff. I’m not going to say I don’t believe in it all. It’s all over the Gospels, and, if I’m honest I’ve seen and experienced some things in my own life that make me wonder. But I’ve also seen a lot of abuse around this demon kind of thinking- a lot of really damaging abuse. So I’m quite cautious about it.
Take all that and then throw in the bit with the pigs, and you just lose me. All of you- Matthew, Mark and Luke. I’ll quote part of what I said a year ago in Mark, because, 365 days later, it’s still how I feel:
The best of the sea of bad answers I’ve gotten about this story is that the killing of the pigs is a comment on a corrupt economic system of the day and how that system stands in opposition to the Kingdom of God which Jesus is bringing. I would love it if that’s what this message was about. I dig that kind of message. But, honestly, it seems like a stretch. There is nothing in the text about the owner of this herd being corrupt. So all Jesus has done here is ruin one man’s livelihood to make a socioeconomic statement. The closest I think we can get to this in this story is that throughout Mark there has been an ongoing theme about clean vs. unclean. Pigs were considered among the most unclean animals in society. If Jesus were to kill one pig in this story, it could be a comment about pork being unclean (which it was). But since he kills the whole herd, he’s now making an economic statement and not a dietary one. He’s essentially saying, “you thought it was something you put in your body that was unclean, but it’s actually your entire economic system that is.” I suppose all that’s possible, but, like I said, I think this is a stretch. And besides, would Christ really choose to communicate that message in this way? It seems contrary to Christ’s character to destroy a herd of pigs and damage the local water source to make a point. So I’m stumped
That’s what I wrote on February 8, 2015 about Mark’s telling. It’s how I feel on February 8, 2016. What were your thoughts on this story when you read it?