When Jesus arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. Jesus said to 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. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. – Matthew 8:28-34, excerpts (NIV)

Wait, that can’t be right. The whole town pleads with Jesus to leave? Isn’t that supposed to say, “They praised his works, and word spread far and wide, and there was much rejoicing?” Jesus saves the lives of two vulnerable people and the town tells Jesus to take a hike.

Makes sense.

Sure, two people’s lives were saved. But did Jesus stop to think of the economic impact of the loss of a large herd of pigs? Think of the swineherds, and the farmers who would sell them slop, and the merchants who would sell the meat at market. Don’t their livelihoods matter more than two people living on the outskirts of town? The Gedarene townspeople sure thought so. 

Some things never change.

This pandemic has put the values of our country under a microscope. Human life has been weighed against economic disruption. And just as it did for the Gedarene townspeople, economic disruption has too often seemed more important than loss of life. As Christians we should know better. The stock market can bounce back, jobs can be filled, restaurants reopened. 

But life, once lost, cannot be replaced.

God, help us to count the cost of what we do, and place life at the heart of our decisions.

dd-johnedgerton.jpgAbout the Author
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.