I wonder if our struggle to make sense of this strange story, beyond the simplistic “Jesus heals us” bit, is because we insist on identifying ourselves with the man in the tombs. I wonder if we struggle with this because we know subconsciously that he’s not us.
Instead we are Legion.
Those of us who are British have been shaped by a nation that once spanned the globe as the oppressive force. And that power was maintained with a ruthless force.
And even within our religious traditions, whether evangelical, or liberal, or fundamentalist, whether Presbyterian, or Anglican or Catholic. Whatever. Each of our traditions have gatekeepers; we have our shock-troops, the truth-keepers who fix people in line by the threat or dread of exclusion, or shame, or loss of status or role, or job or identity. We are masters of oppression. We are the oppressive force. We are Legion.
And to the extent that we try to maintain purity by fear or force, Jesus seeks to send us and our means hurtling down the hill like so many pigs hurtling to their deaths in the Sea of Galilee.
If Jesus threatens this outcome, and if this is the only way to deal with what oppresses so that we can sit at his feet clothed and in our right mind no wonder this is a message that some of us don’t want to hear.