He Is The Discordant Note. Part 1: Gadara
They say you should write about what you know. So let’s not do that. It’s far too safe…I’m the antithesis of a musician. I like an ear for tone, I have no innate sense of rhythm, my hands are slow, I can’t use my hands independently of one another. I am not musical in the slightest. I know nothing about musical theory but I’ve heard of discordant notes. Notes which shouldn’t work and yet do. Notes which should jar. Notes which should sound like fingers on a chalkboard….but which bring things to life. Notes which don’t fit with the notes around them and yet bring beauty and depth and power and shade and wonder to us.
I think Jesus is like a discordant note. He jars with that which is around him and yet he brings beauty and depth and power and shade and wonder to those situations.
Mark 5 and Luke 8 tell us a story about a place called Gadara. Up on the east of lake galilee, on the cliff top region known as Gadara, Was a place that should not be visited. Local lore told of the wild man who lived there. A crazed man who would howl and shriek and scream at the night. A snarling man who lived amongst the tombs, the cliff-side caves where people left bodies.
And this monster of a man, covered in scabs and sores ran wild. He would scamper about and steal food from the herds of pigs that were there. Villagers would try and come and subdue him but he was too strong. He would break the ropes which bound him.
And the pious jews stayed away. This was pig country. This was dead body country. This was pagan country……..And this is where Jesus sailed to one day.
And the wild man sees Jesus land his boats on the shore and the wild man puts down the sharp stone with which he has been slicing at his own skin. And he sprints towards the rabbi and chucks himself at his feet and starts worshipping him.
And the demon inside him starts talking to Jesus. “Don’t torment me Jesus, son of God. Don’t torment me. Why are you here???. Don’t make me leave.”
And Jesus tells him to get out. And the demon says I’m Legion. I’m a mob of demons. The demonic within this wild man starts pleading not to be sent away. They start pleading to be sent into the pig herd nearby. Jesus gives them permission and the pigs start squealing with panic as the demons leave the man and start making home in the pigs. The pigs then in their wild panic start to rush down the steep cliff slopes and drown in the sea.
And the villagers hear the pigs and come rushing out. What’s all the noise? Why are their pigs drowning? What has the wildman done now?
And there’s a rabbi sat around a camp fire, sharing food with the wildman. Except he’s not wild. He’s clothed and conversing with the rabbi. The wild man who cut himself, and screamed, and hid in tombs and snarled and wailed through the night. Is sat. clothed. Peacefully conversing with a rabbi.
A man who had lost his humanity is met by a man who clothes him and feeds him and frees him. To this man who has been discarded Jesus plays a note which shouldn’t be in this man’s song. He tells a story which jars with this man’s perceived story of himself. To the unacceptable, dehumanised destitute, rejected, to this man the discordant note tells a better story. A story of acceptance, of humanity of comfort and of inclusion. And this is good news.
This blog post was brought to you by....Oli Higham
Oli Higham is part of the leadership team at the Rock Community Church. He finds it hard to sum himself up in a few sentences. However he loves Jesus and is also rather fond of his family, films, coffee, rugby, Arsenal FC, poetry, spray paint, beards, cooking and laughing.