The Garasenes and The Gadarenes

He came into the country of the Gerasenes, says Mark.

He came into the country of the Gadarenes, says Matthew.

Questions of accusation swirl in both stories.

“What have you to do with us?” they ask.

Mark’s “Legion,” and
Matthew’s “Two Demoniacs,”
make their inquisition with force.

They also voice recognition.

“What have you to do with us, you who are the Son of God?”

Exclamations of desperation swirl in both stories.

“If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine!” they say.

And so he does, both stories concluding with the same freakish ending — pigs rushing down a cliff and hurling themselves into the sea.

But are they the same story?

Only Mark mentions the suffering.
How a man was restrained by force with chains,
How his neighbors sought to subdue him.

Only Mark mentions the daytime and nighttime dwelling in tombs,
How he sounded aloud with howling,
How he sought comfort in bruising himself with stones.

This is rejection.
This is isolation.
This is stigmatization.

This is way we marginalize our neighbors.

“What have you to do with us, you who are the Son of God?”

The question comes to us.

Renee Roederer

Mark 5: 1-20

They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it.Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Matthew 6:28-39

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

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