86. Human v Animal

Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 86. Human v Animal

Mk 5:10-13 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Now I just want to make a simple observation here. There are people (not usually Christians) who maintain that human beings are just another form of animal and so animals should have the same ‘rights’ as human beings. Well these verses suggest something else!

First of all remember that these demons have been living in this man for some time and the worst they have achieved in him is that he used to cut himself a lot. Beyond that they had not been able to go. But now look what happens: as soon as they enter the pigs the pigs immediately rush down a steep bank to the lake and are drowned in the lake. The pigs do not have what it takes to resist the demons.

Second, Jesus presumably knew what would be the outcome but he has no qualms in sending the demons into the pigs and the demons causing a self-destructive stampede in the pigs. Animals clearly are not in the same category as human beings as far as the Son of God is concerned. Of course we know that from the Creation story, because human beings were made separately from animals and they are described as being made in the image of God. We are clearly distinct from all other living creatures according to the word of God.

Now there is just one other point that may be worth nothing here. This is still part of the country where there would be a Jewish population, but pigs we considered “unclean” and were not a meat to be eaten by the people of God then, according to the Law. So what are two thousand pigs doing in this part of the country?  They are obviously being farmed for food. One might suggest that it was for export, but that was somewhat unlikely as this was nowhere near a main trade route.

No, this seems another indicator that this is a particularly godless area of the country, an area where people had little respect for the Law and therefore just did their own thing. We’ll see other signs of this as we proceed. An ungodly society, as most Western nations are, ignores God’s design and simply do what is right in their own eyes, even if it has self-destructive outcomes.


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