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Mark 066 - Default

Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

Mark 5:16,17

Whenever you buy something with options, it comes with default settings. For example, I have an instant read thermometer that defaults to displaying temperature in Fahrenheit. But there is an option for Centigrade. When I powerup my cell phone, laptop, or car, they always start out the same way because I’ve put default settings in.

Defaults can be a good thing. It’s a familiar starting place, something we’ve done over and over. From the defaults, we have a jumping off point to be productive, make decisions, get things done.

And then Jesus shows up. He turns their world upside-down. He does the unexpected. He sees what everyone else had seen, this poor guy suffering at the hands of impure spirits. He then acts and says what others might have thought but were too afraid to say out loud.

The result: a miracle. A healing. A restoration. Someone they knew for a long time had been made whole. He had been a demon-possessed maniac that screamed and yelled at the top of his lungs. He had been a raving lunatic who ran around naked, gashing himself with nearby rocks.

And who is he now? Someone you could bring home to supper. Someone who could sit still and be quiet. Someone who was clothed and acted like a normal neighbor. Someone who you could have a conversation with.

This freaked them out. And they didn’t take their fear out on the guy, but on the one who’s life and words were powerful enough to change everything.

They were probably frightened. It rocked their world that someone like Jesus could do this. He didn’t act, dress, or sound like the kind of spiritual leaders they had come to expect. He didn’t have the degrees or spiritual background that was expected.

But this wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Jesus. He taught in his hometown synagogue, and people were amazed – which is a good thing. But not everyone was a fan of Jesus and his popularity. They started a whispering campaign against Jesus, questioning everything about him.

After all, how could a carpenter’s son become this wise? They knew his family and there wasn’t a bright bulb in the bunch. It was like they got their foot caught in a trap and started pulling, thrashing all around the place[1]. It got so bad that they drove him out of town, to the edge of a cliff, with the idea of throwing him off[2].

They come to the conclusion that Jesus is just too dangerous. He may be able to control demons, but we can’t control him. He’s outside our comfort zone. What’s he going to do next?

And so, they do what people do today; they push Jesus out. Their particular kind of pushout was to get Jesus to leave town. But not just any town, the town where this guy and the pigs were familiar fixtures. If they got Jesus to leave, people would forget. After all, popularity is a fickle thing. What’s new and exciting today becomes tiresome and old-fashioned in just a little bit.

People are willing to forgive a lot of things. But they are less inclined to forgive when people rock their world like Jesus did. We forgive when politicians make mistakes. We forgive sports figures when they strikeout, miss a shot, drop the ball, or hit the ball into the water. We forgive media personalities when they have a poor performance or make a terrible movie. But forgiving someone who not only heals someone like this guy, but causes great economic loss, that’s something else altogether.

We all seem to have a forgiveness ceiling. We’re willing to forgive people up to a point. As long as they stay beneath a certain level, we’re OK with forgiving. There are two problems with this.

First – everyone has a different forgiveness ceiling. My forgiveness ceiling is different than yours. And we forgive different people differently. We’ll let something easily slide for one person while coming down like a ton of bricks on someone else for the same thing.

Second – it goes against what Jesus said

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6:12

Our default should be to forgive everyone just like God forgives us. Isn’t that how you want to be forgiven?

[1] Matthew 13:54-57. [2] Luke 4:29

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