In today’s passages, we have two very different stories where Jesus brought people to new life. Neither the demon-possessed man nor the woman at the well came looking for Jesus, and as the stories are presented, he wasn’t on a quest to find them either. They just happened across his path.
I turn my attention to the end results, however. In both stories, the encounter with Jesus is carried into the nearby city. In the first instance, the people pour out of the city and “they begged that he would depart from their borders.” In the second story, the people pour out of the city and “begged him to stay with them.”
A miraculous act occurs in each and is carried to the nearby city, but the two cities respond entirely differently. What would account for the difference?
Honestly, I don’t know. I wasn’t there and I didn’t write the stories.
But I would offer a suggestion. As is often the case, the story is in the telling. In the story of the demon-possessed man, the story is told by those who lost their pigs – their livelihood. I suspect they told the story with a great deal of passion and anger. In the story of the woman offered living water, I suspect she told her story with a great deal of passion and wide-eyed wonder.
Through these diametrically opposing perspectives, it’s little wonder their hearers reacted so very differently.
My challenge to you is to stop and assess the perspective from which a passionate, even fantastical tale, is shared with you. Look for the hidden agenda. More importantly, look for the hand of God working in the story.
Listening with a discerning ear,