No way could those pigs have jumped in the sea and drowned
Thomas, Monday September 4
Headed for Nain this morning but didn’t get much of a welcome so moved on. We had some success there at the start of the mission a few months ago, but perhaps it’s close enough for them to have been influenced by people from Nazareth. They weren’t as actively against us as in Nazareth but they weren’t positively for us, so we didn’t waste our breath. I assume the Son of Man will storm round Israel picking up the saved first before dealing with the wicked, but once he starts zapping places I expect Nazareth to be near the top of the list of targets. That’s why I’m so worried about my family, as Jesus must be about his.
We were beginning to talk about heading back to Nazareth when, almost at the same time, we both realised we wanted to stay out on our travels for at least one night. I suddenly felt alive and free again. We had a choice between heading south towards Samaria, as we would if taking the direct route to Jerusalem, or east across the Jordan into the region of Perea. We headed east, arriving in a place called Gadara late in the afternoon. It turned out to be a good choice because although none of the seventy had been there, the people had heard about Jesus from Thaddeus and Jamie on their visit a few weeks ago and were eager to see him and learn more.
Jesus preached in the main square and attracted a good crowd, some of whom were converted straight away and went off to sell their goods and prepare for the end. There wasn’t much call for healing till a bedraggled man came rushing over and threw himself at Jesus’ feet, begging to have his demons exorcised. The man had some old manacles around his ankles where he must have been chained up in the past. The locals seemed to know him well and backed off to a safe distance. Some said his name was Posse, because of the violent gang of demons that was said to possess him.
Jesus did the usual touching, praying and commanding but it was slow progress. Eventually the man spoke in a strange voice that identified itself as the leader of the mob.
“Spare a thought for us,” cried the voice. “Don’t cast us out of this man unless there is somewhere else we can go. How about that herd of pigs over there?”
“But those pigs must belong to somebody,” said Jesus. “If you possess them you might make them run away or become sick and worthless.”
“Yes, but pigs are not Kosher so they are only of value to non-Jews,” said the voice.
“OK, but how do I know you won’t do any harm?”
“Oh, we will!” roared a different and even scarier voice coming from the man. “Once we have possessed the herd, we will make them charge down the hill into the sea and drown.”
“You are madder than I thought,” said Jesus. The sea must be two hours’ walk away from here for a man, and more for a pig. You’re making all this up as you go along. It’s bad enough having demons that drive a man mad, but demons who are mad themselves? It’s just too much. You’re wasting my time. Go away!”
The man writhed for a minute, sat up, rubbed his eyes and blinked. Then he stood up and slunk off the way he had come, apparently demon-free and definitely not raving any more.
“See, I told you he was just an attention seeker,” said a woman. “He’ll be fine for months now, till next time. Charge down the hill into the sea indeed!”
Everyone seemed very happy with the way Jesus had dealt with a tricky situation, and the man who owned the pigs invited us to stay for the night, promising not to feed us any pork but telling us what a treat we were missing. He invited many guests for dinner with Jesus the guest of honour. They all listened politely to Jesus’ message but couldn’t get enough of the latest story of possessed Posse.