Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, ‘Send us to the pigs; let us enter them. So he gave them permission.’” Mark 5:11-13
People regularly begged Jesus for help. The Gospel stories reveal one desperate person after another imploring the Lord to assist them with their plight. On occasion, some foolish ones begged him to leave them alone. Remarkably, Jesus listened to each appeal and did exactly what they asked. He has a way of doing that still.
We meet Jairus in Mark 5 as Jesus arrived on shore of the Sea of Galilee. As usual, great crowds surrounded the Lord, but this would not deter the frantic father from finding him. Jairus was a significant member of the religious establishment and held one of the elevated positions in the synagogue. Yet none of his accomplishments or colleagues could help him; his power, position, and connections made little difference now. Jairus’ beloved daughter was dying, and the wealthy ruler willingly took the posture of a beggar. “And seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live’” (Mark 5:22-23). The very next verse reveals the Lord’s compassionate heart: “And he went with him.”
Soon afterward we become acquainted with a timid beggar who does not open her mouth. This woman had been hemorrhaging for 12 years and simply reached out her hand and touched Jesus’ garments as he journeyed toward Jairus’ home. Jesus knew instantly “that power had gone out of him” and “looked around to see who had done it.” When she confessed her story, Jesus affirmed her. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Jesus elevated her to the status of beloved. She would be a beggar no more.
Before we read of these two encounters that both end with a miraculous healing, Jesus was in the region of the Gerasenes where demons possessing a man also begged him to intervene. Recognizing they were in the presence of the “Son of the Most High God,” the demons implored Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs. Jesus gave them “permission” and the 2,000 swine hurled themselves over the cliff into the sea, and were drowned. The panic-stricken herdsmen sent out an alarm, and the villagers and city folk came running. They had no use for Jesus, and were not amazed at the transformation of the man now clothed and in his right mind. Rather than applauding Jesus for his incredible intervention, they begged him to leave them alone, to pack up his miraculous powers and depart from their region.
Apparently beggars are sometimes choosers; Jesus allows us that freedom.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell
Photo Credit: Paul Westel