Jesus and the Kamikaze Pigs
Get Out, Get Out, Emmanuel!
Do you remember the Bible story about the demons and a herd of pigs in Mark 5:1-20? When Jesus performed this dramatic exorcism in Decapolis, the people there asked him to get OUT. A group of translation teams in Asia helped me better understand why. I was helping with an Oral Bible Storytelling Workshop, teaching elements of storytelling that Bible translation consultants and advisors can then bring back to their teams (several languages with no Scripture translations yet representing at least four bibleless people groups!)
After the story was presented, a flurry of calculations followed. Two thousand pigs, someone announced, was the modern equivalent of $285,000. It was no surprise to these teams that the villagers in this story demanded that Jesus leave! In drowning their pigs, he had bankrupted the whole city.
They really empathized with the villagers and discussed the problem of the lost pigs with each other for almost an hour. Finally, one student interjected, "When the villagers just see what Jesus did to the pigs, they don't see how Jesus saved this one man’s life. They just saw the cost, they missed the miracle: that he saved a life!"
Don't Miss the Miracle
Another student agreed that when telling this story, she would not focus on the pigs. "This one crazy man, he spread the gospel to all the people around those cities! They are now believers because they heard directly from this man who received grace directly from Jesus Christ."
She was absolutely right. Before Jesus left the region as requested, he charged the "crazy man" to spread the word. The results of his testimony are clear when Jesus comes back to Decapolis two chapters later in Mark 7:31-37. The Asia teams did exactly what we're teaching - after retelling and internalizing the story, they discussed it and found the truth most important to communicate to their listeners. And one team concluded, "Now we know how to make the story alive. And we have a little plan: we are going to our neighboring village and we will tell these stories there!” Kamikaze pigs aside, the Advent season reminds us that Jesus is coming back to us too. Will he find us calculating the cost? Or bringing others to the shore, ready for the next miracle? Until All Have Heard, Angela