Verse 28: “When he [the Gerasene demoniac] saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’—for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man.”
The idea of Jesus tormenting someone seems so alien to how we think of Jesus. The church’s theology of Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior evokes images of compassion and mercy, not mistreatment and anguish. As a healer, Jesus’ work changed people’s bodies, changed their attitudes, and changed their ways of moving in the world. He called people to wholeness—a way of functioning that allows the innate intelligences of our body, mind, and spirit to work together for life.
The scripture passage gives a symbolic picture of the inner awe and fear we feel when unintegrated bits of our self contact the presence of our larger Self. Our psychic experience of Jesus comes through the larger Self, the totality of who we are, the part of God that God put in us so that we would know there is a God. We know the presence of the Gerasene demoniac as the bits of self that are unintegrated from our conscious self, the bits that cause us to act in ways that shock us.
The unintegrated bits of self break through our consciousness to move our body-mind to states of agitation. The seemingly demoniac energies stir emotions that lead to a loss of self. We temporarily lose the ability to keep ourselves grounded in the present realities. We move with thoughts, beliefs, and emotional responses out of proportion to the present happenings. We momentarily lose our mind.
We only have to imagine the Gerasene demoniac living naked among the tombs, breaking the fetters that the townspeople used to chain him, to feel our own unintegrated bits of “craziness” stir in our bodies. We can easily call to mind the energies we try to chain through denial, repression, and suppression. The discomfort we feel around the story is the confirmation we all have an equivalent of the Gerasene demoniac in us. We shutter in the light of consciousness as God Within compassionately sees all of who we are.
An interesting point of the story (when we place it in the context of the unfolding ministry of Jesus) is seen in the demons knowing that Jesus was the “Son of the Most High,” when even his disciples were still surprised by his powers. The (symbolic) demons—the split-off emotions, sensations, perceptions, and imaginings—feel the presence of the integrating intelligence of God Within.
These bits of consciousness know that once the ego sees them with the overarching eye of God Within, something will change. They will no longer have the same power to make us lose our mind. Our ego (like the disciples) can be slow to realize the healing, integrating presence of the larger Self.
The larger Self is the psychological structure that mirrors Christ (or God) Within us. When we pray, we invite God Within to work through the structures of our body, mind, and soul. We can consciously choose to cultivate knowing of God Within our Self, or we can ignore the evidence that our body-mind is an intelligence that houses the Divine. The undesirable, split off, “crazy” bits of self know the power of God Within. May we so claim the presence of God in us consciously.
Where do you feel out of control, like a wild man, or “crazy”? Identify the situations, relationships, and underlying emotions that trigger your inner Gerasene demoniac. Where do you shutter when you realize there is more to you than the momentary mindless state you feel?
Call on God Within to integrate the bits of self that are crazy making. Practice dialoguing with whatever felt sense shows up in you with an eye towards the presence of God Within transforming you as needed.
Image: Medieval Illustration Of Jesus Healing the Gerasene (Public Domain)