Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
We all really like technology, especially when it works. Maybe I should restate that: we really like technology only when it works. When it works, we rejoice in what it does for us. How it connects us. How it informs us. How it entertains us.
But we take something less than a “great leap for mankind” when it stops working. We move almost instantaneously from like right to hate. And without any stops in the middle. We hate technology when it doesn’t work. We enjoy using our phones to connect to anyone from anywhere. But let there be a problem with the connection and we immediately hyperjump ourselves into one of those “can you hear me now” commercials.
We might be having a lovely conversation with someone. The connection is good, and all our bars are glowing. But start to move out of range from a cell tower, and you watch your bars decrease from five, to four, to three. The conversation is interrupted with small gaps of silence. Then more and longer pauses. The quality of their voice starts to fade. Two bars, one. And then you get that message that just aggravates you to death – no service.
We then start the great American redial dance. We redial, and redial, and redial. And as we continually hit redial, the rest of our body starts to move. We tap our foot. We rapidly move one knee up and down. We start to shift our weight. One eye eventually starts to twitch. The force that we use to hit the redial button gets harder and harder. We somehow think that the act of pushing redial will somehow, magically, reconnect us.
As the boat got closer to shore, Jesus repeatedly told the impure spirit to come out. Now, when Jesus finally comes up to this guy, he starts asking the impure spirit to identify himself. Jesus kept on asking him as the demon ignored or tried to resist. Over and over, Jesus keeps asking and asking for the spirit to give his name.
Finally, after being asked over and over, the impure spirit finally answers.
What interests me is not the name but the fact that it took a while to get an answer. Jesus asks, and when he doesn’t get an answer, he asks again. This goes on for a while. Jesus asks again and again. He repeatedly questions the impure spirit that’s in this poor guy.
Jesus asks and doesn’t throw up his hands in frustration or anger when he doesn’t get an immediate answer. He stays with it. He stays with the guy. He doesn’t cut him off. He doesn’t abandon him.
When it came to creation, God spoke and that was it. There was no need to repeat himself. He commanded and it was done. Or, in the words of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek fame, “Make it so.”
God could have used his infinite power, forcing the spirit to speak immediately. Or, he could have instantly thrown the spirit into outer darkness, to burn in the fires of hell forever. Or he could have done something else, so wonderful and powerful that we just can’t imagine it
But Jesus does something different. He does the thing that we hate to do – he waits. He doesn’t give up. He stands and stays right where he is while waiting for the spirit to answer.
If we lose a phone connection, we get annoyed. If we can’t immediately reconnect, we get frustrated. If that little icon shows up on our screen, telling us that our internet connection was interrupted, we blow a gasket.
But not Jesus. He doesn’t give up so easily. He doesn’t give up on this guy. And he doesn’t give up on us.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Jesus stands, and stands, and stands at the door, the entrance to our home. And he knocks, and knocks, and knocks. He doesn’t walk away after a knock or two. He stays there, knocking, waiting, letting us know that he’s there and that he wants to come in.
That’s who Jesus was with this poor guy. And that’s who Jesus is with poor us. He doesn’t kick in the door; he knocks and knocks while he waits and waits.
I can’t tell you how many times I felt like a complete failure. Someone who had failed God, family, and friends. Someone who people had thrown away, walked away from.
But God just kept on redialing. Kept on standing. Kept on knocking.