Can Jesus Be Bad for Business? … It’s Hump Da,y my friends and I have a devotion that truly does go “over the cliff!” Just the title alone probably has you wondering what I’m up to, right? Who thinks that Jesus can be bad for anything—well, except for that rascally devil and therein lies my story. I have chosen to read the Book of Luke when we arrived this April at the campground…truly I didn’t choose this—it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Who can counter the Spirit’s urging?!
I’m reading it in several translations (fun) and right now I am in Chapter 8—lots of stuff in this long chapter but the one story that gets me is the pigs going off the cliff! Well, here’s the whole story in Luke 8:26-39 from the Message–it gives us a vivid picture of the scene:
They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before him, and howled, “What business do you have messing with me? You’re Jesus, Son of the High God, but don’t give me a hard time!” (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Mob. My name is Mob,” he said, because many demons afflicted him. And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit. A large herd of pigs was grazing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.
Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus’ feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved.
Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave—too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, “Go home and tell everything God did in you.” So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him.
If you were in this situation, how would you react? Of course, we are not in that man’s shoes are we…but we’ve been there at times in our life of faith. We’ve pleaded to Jesus for healing for all kinds of things; we’ve pleaded to Jesus to get us out of a situation we knew we should have never been in; we’ve begged Jesus to (you fill in your own words, I’m too ashamed to put my down). How has Jesus reacted to our pleas? If we are honest we would admit Jesus is there for us—perhaps not in the way we want but what Jesus knows is the best for us. And again, therein lies the similar story of the pigs going off the cliff!
We wanted the healing but we wanted it our way. The people who witnessed the healing in Luke’s Gospel were much the same. Happy to have this poor man’s torment gone, but not happy to lose their pigs. Perhaps Jesus’ demonstration of God’s power scared them, but it may not have been as much as the power as it was the outcome—healed man, lost revenue. For them, Jesus was definitely NOT good for business!
I like Max Lucado’s take on this miracle: “…apparently, the people who owned the herd of swine were pretty angry, because they made a lot of money off the pigs that the demons went into. Hogs were big business on that side of the lake, and a lot of bacon went over the cliff that day. Jesus was bad for their business, so they didn’t want Him around.” Remember also that even the folks who didn’t own the pigs asked Jesus to go away and Jesus answered them by leaving. Sadly, they lost so much more than they gained that day. And I am still trying to imagine how the healed man thought—to me they cared more about the pigs than the human being!
So the question remains: Is Jesus bad for business? I know Christians who have businesses, some easily share their faith, but many more do not want to mention anything about faith because they may turn someone away—how sad. No matter your choice of careers, if you are not “working for the Lord” why would you expect his blessing? Like Max Lucado’s grandpa taught him: “If you can’t say to the Lord, ‘Hallowed be your name’ over whatever you’re about to do, then don’t do it.” I think that sums it up pretty well, don’t you?