Scripture: Mark 5:1-20
Journal: What is God saying to you through the scriptures today? How are you like Legion? How are you many? How does Jesus long to heal you and make you whole? What are the false selves you see within you? What does Jesus say is the truest thing about you? How will you live in his truth today?
Reflection: Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” (Mark 5:9)
I’ve never been quite sure what to do with this encounter, it is so odd and so wonderful. But the older I have gotten, the more beautiful Jesus’ question has become, and the less strange the man’s response. For Jesus knows that one of the deepest questions of the human heart is, “Who am I?” That, in essence, is what he’s really asking this man. To which the man basically responds, “I have no idea. I am so many selves that I couldn’t possibly pick one. In fact, will the real me please stand up!” Which, if we are honest, we all really struggle with as well.
We are all such a hodgepodge. We are all such a complex mixture of thoughts and feelings and experiences and personality traits that sometimes it’s really hard to know exactly who we are. It is hard for us to tell what about us is real and true, and what is not. It is difficult to discern what is a part of how we were made and what is a result of us somehow trying to make ourselves. It can be really confusing. Maybe that’s why the man was in so much agony and distress; he had no idea who he really was.
In the time of Jesus, a legion consisted of roughly 6,000 Roman soldiers, so when this man gave Jesus his name, he was certainly not lying. He was, indeed, many. Thus, it is not an easy question for him to answer. Nor is it an easy question for us. For although we might not feel like there are 6,000 selves battling to become the real one, we do have quite a few to choose from. We are full of selves as well.
Some of these selves are created as the culture around us tries to squeeze us into its mold, as it tries to form our thoughts, feelings, and opinions based on its own ways of thinking and being. This is a very subtle process—a seduction, if you will. In fact, for the most part, we do not even realize it’s going on. The culture around us specializes in a manufactured self, telling us that we can be whatever, or whoever, we want to be. We, not God, are the artists, and our job is to create ourselves, to put ourselves on the map, to make a name for ourselves. The only problem is that any self that is manufactured can only be false. It is a self that is fabricated to win the approval of those around us.
Unfortunately, the church often comes along and makes matters even worse by trying to impose a self upon us. Far too often the church’s agenda is, “How can we make them into who we think they should be?” rather than, “How do we enable and encourage them to become their truest selves in Jesus?” The Pharisee were masters at this, and it does much more harm than good because legalism squelches life, rather than producing it. Imposing a self on someone merely creates another, albeit more religious, false self.
Then along comes Jesus, the only one who can tells us who we really are. Jesus alone holds the key to the true self. He made us fearfully and wonderfully, and came to restore us to our creation intent, just take a look at Legion after his encounter with Jesus. (Mark 5:15) Jesus restored him to his original design, and he can do the same with each of us. He came to remind you and me of who God dreamt us to be, and to help us become that person. Thanks be to God!
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, only you can show me who I really am. Please do so. Amen.