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Reform Magazine | August 14, 2022

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Chapter & verse: Mark 5: 1-20

Chapter & verse: Mark 5: 1-20

Stuart Radcliffe on demons

Are you allowed to have a favourite passage of Scripture? I’m not sure, but if you are, then this would be one of mine!

It’s a great story. It has a bit of everything in it – and a wonderful image of a herd of pigs hurtling off a cliff (not so great if you are a pig or a pig farmer). However, I think it resonates with me because fundamentally it is a story of transformation, a story of hope.

There are many biblical lenses through which we could read this scripture, but I want to examine why I believe this is a story about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and why the mission of the Church needs to be intimately involved in the life of communities.

Jesus has barely stepped foot on dry land when he is immediately involved in the life of this local community. We have no indication of how much the man he meets has dominated community life, other than that he is chained away from the village and out of sight.

The passage tells us he is possessed. Modern understandings of mental health perhaps throw light onto other explanations, but I’m going to allow you to decide which interpretation is correct. What is clear is that this man is a problem to the community and they don’t know how to help him or, who knows, they might not even want to.

Jesus, rather than avoiding him, ignoring him, or walking away, makes the man his number one priority. It could be argued that he doesn’t have any choice and yet I am sure many of us can think of people or situations we should have found hard to avoid and yet, somehow, we have managed!…

Stuart Radcliffe is Missional Discipleship Enabler for the United Reformed Church’s Mersey Synod

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This is an extract from an article published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of Reform

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