Why the pigs?

I truly enjoy studying Mark 5 and Jesus’ interaction with the man called Legion from Gerasenes. Here’s the passage.

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

I’ve always been curious about the pigs. As I was studying this passage today, though, I think I gained some new insight. I was thinking in particular about sin. In this story, Jesus ordered the impure spirit(s) out of the man and sent them into a herd of pigs.

Let’s think of the impure spirit(s) as sin. When sin entered the pigs, they immediately rushed away from the hillside where they were feeding (in their natural habitat) to their death in the lake (where they did not belong). Now let’s consider me and you. How does sin affect us?

First, it gets inside us.

Second, it takes over.

Third, it leads us away from safety directly toward our destruction.

This is the nature of sin. It is sin’s objective. It is a roaring lion continually stalking us (1 Peter 5:8). It will not stop until we are rushing over the bank to drown. Does this mean there is no hope for us? Absolutely not. Turn to Jesus. He came to save us from sin. Embrace him and avoid being the pig!

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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