So one of my favorite movies, Good Will Hunting, came on T.V. again over the weekend. It’s such a great movie, (but the cable edited version may work better for a house with kids) the plot is fantastic, the dialogue rocks, and the acting is phenomenal.
There’s a scene where the title character, Will Hunting, is visiting with Robin Williams, the therapist. They are finally getting to a break through in Will’s therapy, and all the years of physical and emotional abuse as a kid get peeled away. Will starts to get really defensive, and Robin Williams just begins to repeat over and over again, “It’s not your fault.”
In Mark 5, Jesus is just getting to the shores of the Gerasenes after a long night and is met by a demoniac. Not your most anticipated welcoming party, but Jesus doesn’t flip out. They have a conversation where they exchange introductions (but the whole scene sounds like it was written for the Poltergeist) and then Jesus does his whole thing, and gets rid of the demons.
Now Mark writes the story on several levels. On one level this story stands as symbol for Rome. Rome was occupying Israel at the time and the way Mark writes the story is the “Legion,” same word for a platoon of Roman Soldiers, goes to the bottom of the sea. Which is exactly what happened to Pharaoh’s army when Israel was being delivered from captivity.
Mark also uses resurrection language here. The same command that was given to the post-excorcism demoniac to “go and tell” is the same language Jesus uses to instruct his disciples after his resurrection. It’s the only other time this phrase is used in the gospel.
And this is what I want to focus in on.
Post-modernism has done a great job of pointing out the deep flaws in modernism, but it is a reaction that offers no real solution. It knows what’s wrong. But there is no alternative solution.
Despair is the easiest emotion to give into, isn’t it? The world is filled with victims. I don’t say that patronizing. I mean it. Almost every person in this world probably has a good reason for doing the stuff that they do. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be that way.
The Demoniac asks Jesus to let him go with him. And Jesus says no. Now you haven’t been rejected till you’ve been rejected by Jesus. He tells him to stay here and to tell others about what has happened to him.
Think about this. This guy is the thorn in the town’s side. You just couldn’t have a good funeral, you couldn’t have a good wedding without this nut busting in and ruining your event. He is less than popular. He’s got no formal education, no friends, probably no family.
He’s a product of his environment.
He’s the poster child for victims everywhere.
And Jesus calls him past that. He calls strength out of this man, that he didn’t even know was there. He delivers the man from his current situation on more levels than one. He sees something in this guy that no one else could see, and he asks him to live into a different reality.
And he does.
A few chapters later we find Jesus back at the village and the entire town comes out to meet Him. Because this man shared his story…they want to meet the guy who changed him.
Which makes me think back to Will Hunting. Remember that scene at the end, the one where he leaves his past behind…to see about a girl? I think the reason that scene gets me every time is because I want to believe that is possible.
That the events that define our past, don’t have to define our future.
It seems to me Jesus doesn’t believe in victims.
Now that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about the suffering that we have gone through. I think if we told him our story, he might say “you’re right, that’s horrible. I can’t believe he/she did that to you. I can’t believe you grew up around that. Why wouldn’t they give you a childhood that every kid deserved?”
But then he would call us past that.
Because Jesus knows a bit about being a victim.
But he also knows something about resurrection.