Are You From Gergesenes or Gennesaret?

Two cities in Israel, with names I can hardly pronounce.  But, they describe two groups of people, and ultimately we all are either from Gergesenes or Gennesaret.

In Matthew Chapter 8 Jesus goes to the land of Gergesenes.  He is met by two men possessed with devils, or demon spirits.  Jesus delivers the two men, and the demons are cast out into the herd of swine nearby.  The swine run into the sea and are drowned.  Those who kept the swine run into the city and tell everyone what has happened.  The whole city turns out to meet Jesus.  They ask Him to leave.

In Matthew Chapter 14 Jesus goes to the land of Gennesaret.  When the people heard that Jesus had come they all turned out, and brought those that were sick and diseased to Him that they might be healed.  It was clear they didn’t want Him to leave.

Quite a difference.  In one place Jesus was asked to leave.  In another He was welcomed.  But isn’t this a picture of our bigger world?

One needs to ask the question – why did the folks of Gergesenes want Jesus to leave?  Didn’t they know He could heal their sick?  Didn’t they know He could give them encouragement and strength for the days ahead?  I think it is pretty clear why they wanted Him to leave – they were afraid.  Why should they be afraid?  Because he changed things.  Let me explain…

The people of Gergesenes had become accustomed to the wild men that lived outside their city.  They warned their children to stay away from that area because those men were mad, crazy.  People saw them, talked about them, and told stories.  Each story was a brick in a wall, a wall of resentment, a wall of separation, a wall of judgment.  When Jesus cast out the demons that drove these men, He changed things.  He upset everyone’s apple-cart.  The people didn’t know how to react, so they reacted the only way they knew how, in fear.  Were they afraid of the demon possessed men?  No, they were afraid of Jesus who changed things.  Things beyond their ability to comprehend.  They had everything figured out, and their world was perfectly in order.  There were good people, bad people, and crazy people.  Everyone had their place.  But, Jesus changed that.  And because He changed things people reacted out of fear.

When I was in Junior High School I was forced to read the book, “Flowers for Algernon”, which was later turned into the movie, “Charly”.  The book and movie portrays a severely mentally-handicapped man who undergoes a secret experimental procedure designed to determine if his mental illness can be cured.  Charly works in a bakery, where he is a janitor.  They make fun of him, play jokes on him, and he laughs with them.  Everything is normal because everyone, and everything, has it’s proper place.  But, after Charly’s operation things began to change.  Charly begins learning at a very rapid rate.  He is no longer the slow, dopey fellow they knew.  He is getting smarter day by day.  Instead of people cheering him on in his success and progress, they become afraid, and resentful.  Good old Charly has now turned into someone else.  Someone they don’t recognize.  Someone who is intelligent, perhaps more than they.  In short, they are afraid.

Jesus changes things.  He changes circumstances, and He changes people.  He makes things better.  But, with change comes fear, resentment.  We don’t want things to change.  We don’t want Charly to become smart.  We prefer to have him slow, dim-witted, and the brunt of our jokes and stories.  We don’t want the demon-possessed men to become normal.  We have spent our whole life telling stories about them.  What will we do now?

So, are we from Gergesenes, or from Gennesaret?  Do we fear what Jesus can do with our lives, or do we welcome it?  Do we resent what Jesus is doing for others?

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2 Responses to “Are You From Gergesenes or Gennesaret?”

  1. Bea McGuire Says:

    What a great blog. Makes one think. I hope and pray I am from Gennesaret! Blessings….

  2. Rt Says:

    Great thoughts! These stories are always interesting especially since these locations are very close and may have been the same place, before and after the demon man was healed.

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