This week I’m stuck in that period at the end of that last sentence in Luke 8:39. I find myself smack dab between Legion and Jairus. And this week is the beginning of Lent. On the one hand, we are taught that Jesus has the power to release a man tormented and used in the worst way possible by unclean spirits and to leave him clothed, seated, and in his right mind. That’s gospel. That’s good news that reminds me that Jesus loves even me and is able to release me from my demons as well. That he calls me his own.
On the other hand, Jairus reminds me, though that I can’t think I can do this on my own because I can’t. I’m reminded that I can’t think I’m somehow better than Legion, because even if he is the synagogue leader, Jairus’ need for Jesus is just as great as Legion’s. In our terms, this preacher is just as reliant upon Jesus as the biggest sinner that we can imagine. If I rely upon my own goodness to save me, it’s saying to Jesus I don’t really need you. Between Legion and Jairus is not such a bad place to be as Lent begins, because this is the time of year that we are reminded that at our very best, we’re still sinners in need of a Savior. We are also reminded that we have a Savior who is able to put anyone into their right minds.
I’m going to link you to an article by one of my favorite authors, Will Willimon. Some of you will remember him as one of the authors of the book we read in Sunday School last Fall. He expresses this thought better than I ever could. I encourage you to read it. Here’s the link. He begins with this thought: “Lent is that time when we all-too-worldly ones learn and relearn the great scandal that lies at the heart of the Christian faith — Christ came to save sinners, only sinners.” When we forget that and begin to think of ourselves as a bit better than others around us, it means that we begin to think we need Jesus a bit less. I pray that between now and Easter we are reminded of the depth of our need for him.
I’ve heard only from a few of you about how you have answered the challenge to love in an extraordinary way before Valentine’s Day on Sunday. I’d love to hear your stories, if you’d share them with me.
Remember also that we’ll be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together next Sunday.