Words to Live By – Healing Legion

On Sunday June 23, Aileen van Ginkel, one of our lay readers, officiated at morning prayer last Sunday. She delivered a thoughtful sermon based on discussions from a recent Bible study she participated in. She talked about the difficult story in Luke 8 in which Jesus heals a man called “legion” because he was possessed by many demons.

You may recall the premise of the story: There was a herd of pigs nearby, and the “demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.”

Aileen shared how the study group engaged God’s word and first established that Jesus was among gentiles in Gerasenes. Then the group decided that being possessed by demons perhaps meant he had a multiple personality disorder, and was mentally ill. She recalled that a member of the Bible study group suggested that according to a French philosopher, people like that man could have been used as scapegoats, carrying the sins of the whole community. The demons knew Jesus and that he had authority over them. When the demons had gone out of the man he returned to normal. The people were afraid, maybe thinking the demons would return to their scapegoat.

“This is a story of hope,” she said. “Jesus refused to let the man accompany him since he could become an agent of hope. Perhaps he was the first missionary to the gentiles.”  

She said the takeaway for the group was that we were all affected by weaknesses and needed healing. She ended by talking about the Bible study’s joy in engaging and probing the meaning of scripture, and inviting anyone to join when sessions begin again Mondays in the fall.

Submitted by Patrick Gossage