“He (Jesus) said to them (the demons), ‘Go!’ So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” (Matthew 8:32-34, NIV)
As disciples of Jesus, we must apprehend the fact (and resist its seduction, at the same time) that in this world, possessions, prerogatives, power, and money are valued more highly than people.
We see this clearly in today’s scripture, the context of which is the healing of two demon-possessed men by Jesus. In their deranged state, these two men were terrors of the town, and lived among the tombs. People avoided all contact with the pair.
By his healing act, Jesus returned these men to society, to their families and friends; and removed the “town terrors.” He ordered the demons into a herd of pigs. In the culture of that day, pigs were considered unclean. Their purpose was to consume garbage. They were not highly-valued.
You would think the townspeople would be happy with the report of those who were tending the pigs, but they were far from happy. The town went, en mass, to Jesus to ask him to leave. Money/Power/Stuff: 1 People: 0.
While we may be discouraged because humanity is discounted the way that it is by those in this world; we should be encouraged by the fact that with God, the people that He created and for whom Christ died are always — always — preferred to the lure of money; the pull of power; and the seductions of possessions.
We follow in the steps of our heavenly Father when we, too, choose the eternal potential of people over the passing value of all of the things we cannot keep. – Luther