Friday, December 7, 2012

LEGION: A Powerful Example of Christ's Healing Powers

The very center of Mormonism is Jesus Christ.  It is the Lord Jesus Christ that performed the Atonement that can cleanse all mankind from sins so that they can return to the presence of God.  Alma taught:  "...Have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness." (Alma 7:14.)

One of the greatest examples of Christ's cleansing power, and one of my personal favorite scripture stories, is that of the Legion.  I will now share the story, as recorded in the book of Mark, and then give my thoughts on it.
Mark 5
1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
2. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces:  neither could any man tame him.
5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshiped him,
7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?  I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9. And he asked him, What is thy name?  And he answered, saying, My name is Legion:  for we are many.
10. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
12. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.  And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine:  and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country.  And they went out to see what it was that was done.
15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind:  and they were afraid.
16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
17. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
18. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
The real significance of this passage of scripture makes itself known when one understands the Law of Moses.  This law is not practiced as widely as it was in Biblical times, but fortunately for us it was recorded by Moses in the Old Testament.

Christ and his apostles went to the land of the Gadarenes, a Gentile nation.  Up until Peter's vision on the rooftop (Acts 10) the Gentiles were unclean to the Jews.  The man they found lived in the tombs.  According to the Law of Moses, touching dead things was considered unclean (Leviticus 11:31-32).  This man was possessed by unclean devils.

The scripture attests that this man was always "crying, and cutting himself with stones."  It is possible that this man was so tormented with the legion of devils that he wanted to die (hence the cutting himself and living in the tombs).

It is not known how long this man was possessed by these devils, but eventually Jesus Christ showed up.  The Lord then cast out the devils from this man thoroughly considered unclean by the Jews.  As if to further prove his cleansing powers God then allows the legion to enter into a herd of swine.  Again the Law of Moses teaches that these animals are unclean (Leviticus 11:7).

In one final demonstration of cleansing, the swine run into the sea.  Water is a great symbol of cleanliness or becoming clean.  (Consider baptism by water.)

Christ Jesus is the master-healer.  Because of his infinite atonement there is no one that is too far out of his loving reach.  Just as Christ was able to clean this 'unclean' man from the devils, so can Christ heal us, through his atonement, heal us from our pains and sins.

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