Sunday, June 24, 2007

When Jesus Intrudes

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Luke 8:26-39

Everyone lost something. The ranchers lost their pigs. The people of the area lost their freak show. The demons, of course, lost their gig.

What did the man who was possessed by those demons lose? He lost that which had bound him. The one who was in a wretched state was now awash in light and peace. He was now free.

And yet, what did he do? He sat at Jesus’ feet. He wanted to stay with Jesus.

Now we see that everyone else was bound. It was everyone else now who was in fear. Asking for things to be restored to the way they had been. Imploring Jesus to leave. Crazy, huh? Wanting those demons to come back. But then, they weren’t the ones that had been bound by those chains.

But they sure wanted to remain bound with the ones with which they were bound. This is what happens when Jesus intrudes, we lose something.

We’re afraid of intruders, aren’t we? We’re afraid of what they might take. We’re afraid of what harm they might do to us. We’re afraid of how they will take us out of our comfort zone because life won’t be the same after they’ve intruded into our lives.

Jesus is the Great Intruder. We think of the devil as the One Who Intrudes into our life. And he is that. But so often we welcome him. No, I’m not saying we’re a bunch of devil worshipers. We’re more subtle than that.

We want our freak show. Sure, the man was an embarrassment to the community. But he sure gave people something to talk about, didn’t he? Yeah, they felt sorry for him. But he gave them something with which they could have in common in their feelings of being glad that it was that pour soul who was the wretch and not themselves.

The sad fact is that they were just fine having this demonically-possessed man in their lives. At least the demons hadn’t drown their pigs.

But Jesus did. He intruded into their comfortable existence. Jesus intruded and things were better now. But what they saw was that they lost something. They wanted it back.

We’re often more comfortable with what we have rather than what’s best for us. It’s scary to have Jesus intrude into our lives. It’s great that He makes things better but why do we have to lose those things we’ve grown to love along the way?

We become more comfortable with the things the devil places before us than we do with Jesus’ intrusion into our lives. Who was in the worse off situation, the demon-possessed man or the others?

He was in a pathetic situation, a wretched state, one none of us would like to experience. All the others weren’t demon-possessed but we see how truly pathetic they were when Jesus intruded into their pleasant little lives.

No longer could they look down on the madman and look favorably upon themselves that theirs was a pleasant little existence. Their livelihood was more important to themselves than the horrible demon possession of the man. They lost all their pigs, now what were they going to do?

Can we so blithely go through our lives as Christians and be grateful that ours is not a wretched existence, as we perceive others’ to be? Where is our compassion for them? Why is our comfortable existence more important to us than what is best for others who are in difficult situations?

Can you actually believe they told Jesus to leave? But in our subtle way we do the same thing.

When Jesus intrudes we do indeed lose something. And if that’s what we choose to focus on we will be no better off than those people in the community with the formerly demon-possessed man. They ended up being bound by their own sin.

Jesus does indeed intrude so that we will come away from the experience having lost something.

But we lose so that we may gain. One only has to look at the man who could not be bound by chains but was bound by the power of Satan. Jesus loosed his bonds. He freed him from his pain and wretchedness. He lost something, no doubt. But look how he gained!

Now his life was filled up with Life. With Jesus and His righteousness. No longer bound by forces beyond his control. Now free and basking in the peace that only Christ can come to bring.

Jesus comes to do the same for you. He will intrude into your life. Your sinful flesh will resist it. But hear the work of Christ to you—choosing to be bound by the chains of your sin and guilt; choosing the wretchedness of suffering in your place.

Look at what happens in your Baptism. Jesus intrudes into your life. You lose something when He does that—your life. Think about it. What happens in your Baptism? You drown. That’s a horrible thing to have happen, and isn’t it something we would rightfully recoil against?

But why does He do it? So that you may have new life! He drowns your sinful nature in that washing with water. You were born in sin. Bound in chains like the demoniac in our Gospel reading. But Jesus intruded into your life so that you may have life with Him.

What else is there for you now to do but what Christ gave to the man in the Gospel reading to do: declare how much God has done for you. Because it’s always about that—what Christ has done for you. Amen.


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