There was this guy who had a legion of mental problems. Legion is a term indicating about 2000. Bound in chains to keep him under control, he lived in the tombs outside of town.
He had quite a problem, but it wasn’t what you might think. His problem involved a group of swine-herders working nearby. In this story swine-herder is simply another name for symptom-watcher, and they were good at their job! They watched this man rage and cry and cut himself while they herded swine in the neighborhood. They had seen all his 2000 symptoms over the years. They were convinced this man was a mess - a complicated case. They were afraid of both him and his problems. It made sense that such a complicated case would require a complicated solution, right?
But what did the swine-herders see?
You see, when we read this account I believe that what we find are TWO stories woven together - two completely different perspectives of the same scene. Jesus came to Gadera alone. There is no mention of other direct witnesses to this healing outside of the man and the swine-herders. These were the two reporters of what happened. One told a tale of peace and healing , while the other told a tale of grim horror. By separating out what Jesus actually did and said, from what would have interested the swine-herders, ie. references to their swine, we begin to see the two distinct points of view and the blending point where the accounts were brought together by someone (a swine-herder, most likely) saying Jesus was responsible for sending demons into the pigs.
This retelling of history plays out a bit like the creation account in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, which have two different authors writing from two different perspectives, but which over time and retelling have become so blended that many are convinced that the object lesson of Adam and Eve is an actual continuation of creation - as though they really existed and originated humanity.
Here, I will try to separate the two perspectives in the crazy pig story.
From Jesus’ viewpoint, he was approached by a man who believed he had a big problem. But after a simple conversation designed to identify who the man really was - a child of God created in the image of God, good, which is the perpetual message of the Christ to us - the man was perfectly well. Jesus cast out the belief that he could ever be anything but loved, lovable and lovely. It was a peaceful scene of healing.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. It feels, hears, and sees its own thoughts." (Science and Health, p. 86) Well, these poor fellows were ultimately victimized by their own point of view. If their belief would only permit a complicated solution, they certainly got what they believed in the form of a pig sacrifice. Their swine went suicidal on them. They watched as 2000 of them - that works out to be one pig per symptom - ran crazily down the hill and off the cliff.
Did they ever even notice the man sitting and clothed in his right mind? It doesn’t appear so. Instead they took off for town to tell their terrible tale, missing the healing completely. Is it any wonder the man asked Jesus if he could go away with him rather than going back into town with the swine-herders?
We often hear it called the Swine story or Pig story, and many are confused by it to this day. Bible Commentaries are all over the map on it. In most cases their explanations are more confusing than they are a help. And why? Because in the telling and retelling of a story, symptoms of problems can seem so impressive and cases so complicated, that it is easy to get distracted from the point. Instead of picking up on the most important elements of the story - what produced the actual healing - it is so easy to get pulled into the self-created drama of mortal mind.
But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the suicidal swine only ever existed in the minds and experience of swine-herders, mortal minds mesmerized by symptoms. We don’t have to reconcile the bizarre bits of the story with the healing. They are the phenomena of mortal belief and nothing more.
Jesus met a man, had a chat about his real identity, helped him see that the problem was no part of him, and the man was healed by the Christly point of view. That’s it.
Don’t monitor problems and keep count of their symptoms. Let the Christ - God's message of your wholeness and goodness, speaking to your human consciousness - meet your concerns point by point, and lead you to a better view. Don't be afraid to sit humbly, quietly at the feet of this Christ message as you pray. And don't be surprised that when you do, you will discover yourself to be clothed in well-being and in full possession of your health.
No fuss. No muss. Healing is not as complicated as the swine-herders would have you believe.
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